So you just got your braces or clear aligners off and are now wearing a retainer. Gotta lock in and maintain that new, stellar smile, right? Yes, a retainer after braces or clear aligners like Invisalign® or Spark™ Clear Aligners is a must. But how long do you have to wear a retainer, you ask? How do retainers work anyway? And when can I stop wearing my retainer?
To fully answer the question, “When can I stop wearing my retainer?” We have to talk about some retainer-wearing basics. So here, let’s first answer some of the most common questions we get at Fresh Orthodontics about wearing a retainer.
What Do Retainers Do Exactly?
After the active phase of teeth and jaw alignment with braces, Invisalign, or Spark Clear Aligners, it’s all about retention. After all the hard work your teeth and jaws have done moving into a beautifully aligned and functional smile, you want to give them time to lock in to their new spots.
You see, when your teeth were shifting, some next-level science was going on involving stretched and compressed periodontal ligaments and the breaking down and building up of bone. Now complete, a retainer signals an end to this process, giving your teeth time to settle securely into their new positions.
Once your teeth are secure, wearing a retainer is all about keeping them there. Over time, our teeth naturally want to shift back to where they were before orthodontics. Plus, aging can cause our teeth to slowly crowd together because of overall bone loss, or shift because of chewing or habits like teeth grinding and clenching.
So can retainers move teeth back? Well, retainers aren’t designed to dramatically move teeth like braces or clear aligners, but they do help realign your teeth if they’ve moved a wee bit between wearings. But say you stop wearing your retainer for a long time and then find it doesn’t fit when you put it in; this could be a sign that teeth have shifted enough that you should see your orthodontist. Your retainer isn’t going to straighten your teeth if they’ve moved a lot. If you want to restraighten your teeth, you’re likely a candidate for a new treatment plan.
How Long Do Retainers Last?
The reality is, you’ll have several retainers over your lifetime. Depending on the type of retainer you get and how you care for your retainer, each set should typically last several years. The exception is permanent retainers: a wire bonded to the backs of your teeth that can last for decades.
At Fresh Orthodontics, we offer our braces and Invisalign patients modern plastic retainers that fit over their teeth comfortably and discreetly. Our high-tech obsession means we can produce our patients’ retainers on our in-house 3D printer with precision and efficiency.
How Long Do I Have To Wear My Retainer?
This is probably the number one question we get from our patients as they get closer to the end of their orthodontic treatment. The answer? For a short time — on average four to six months — wearing a retainer after Invisalign, Spark Clear Aligners, or braces is a 24/7 deal. But after your Fresh Orthodontics team gives you the go-ahead, you’ll only wear your retainer at night. If you have any questions about the retainer you received from us, give us a shout!
So when can I stop wearing my retainer? Do you have to wear retainers forever? Simply put, if you want to prevent the natural shifting I mentioned earlier, you’ll need to wear your retainer for life. As a retainer-wearer myself, I’m happy to talk about my journey with retainers throughout the years. Just ask!
Get More Retainer Instructions and Info from Your Brooklyn, NY Orthodontist
Have more questions about the retainer you receive after braces, Invisalign, or Spark Clear Aligners treatment with us? No prob! Me, Dr. Ankush Khanna, and the knowledgeable Fresh Orthodontics team are happy to help with communication and clarity for our patients.