Our patients are sometimes a bit dismayed when they find out that they'll have to wear a retainer after their braces treatment is complete. Here’s some information about how long they need to be worn.
You probably know that there's really no "standard", one-size-fits-all when it comes to orthodontic treatment. We custom-design our treatment plans for each patient, based on his or her unique needs.
The same goes for retainers. Although every patient will have to wear a retainer for some period of time after the braces come off, this time frame can vary quite significantly from person to person. But to keep it simple, we’ll lay it out in phases here.
Phase 1 - Full-Time Retainer Wear
When your braces first come off, you’ll wear your retainer full time, day and night, removing it only to eat, brush, and floss. This phase usually lasts from around 6 months to a year.
Phase 2 - Night Time Retainer Wear
Throughout phase 1, your orthodontist will perform regular evaluations of your teeth to determine when you can start wearing your retainer nights only. This will take place for the remaining time in the year that you no longer have to wear your retainer full time, and possibly longer.
Phase 3 - Maintenance
To keep your teeth in their new, straight positions, you'll have to wear your retainer on a part time basis for the rest of your life. This news may not be welcome, but the fact is that your teeth may shift out of position eventually if you don't do it.
Although the bone grows back around your teeth and anchors them more securely in place, they may still shift back out of position later on.
To keep your teeth where they belong, orthodontists usually suggest patients wear their retainers to bed about 3 - 5 times a week for life.
This may be mildly inconvenient, but the payoff is a straight, healthy smile that stays that way. It’s definitely worth it!