“How long do I have to wear my retainer?” It’s the most popular question we hear and we hateto break the bad news to you, but you need to know the truth. You’ll need to wear the infamous retainer for as long as you want your teeth to be straight. So, it’s really up to you how long your wear your retainer, but we suggest forever.
Teeth are lively little bones that continually shift overtime, moving into positions that they want to be in instead of where you want them. This proves a problem for people who’ve had braces because you’re already fighting against your teeth’s natural position on top of the normal shifting that comes with aging.
Right after you get your braces off is the time when you’ll need to wear your retainer the most. Due to your teeth’s “memory” of their natural position, they’ll try to move back to their original position as often as they can. To prevent them from moving back you’ll have to wear your retainer about 22 hours a day for the first six months.
After the first six months your teeth start to lose their “memory” of where they used to be and you’ll be able to wear your retainer less often. That doesn’t mean your teeth won’t move at all however, they’ll still be shifting so you’ll still have to wear your retainer. If your dentist gives you the okay, you can start wearing your retainer every night for the next six months.
After you wear your retainer for a year, your teeth will be stabilized in their new position. At this time you’ll be able to switch to a less frequent schedule and can wear your retainer nightly, three to five times a week.
It’s important to continue wearing your retainer because of the continuous slow shifting. While it may take years for your teeth to shift noticeably once they are stabilized, you’ll want to avoid having to get another set of braces down the road. You can avoid further braces easily by wearing your retainer regularly.
Some people find themselves forgetting to wear their retainer for extended periods of time and become worried about how tight they feel. If this happens, visiting a dentist can help determine whether or not you need a new retainer. It’s best to wear your retainer frequently however, and dodge this situation all together.
In short, if you want your teeth to stay as straight as they were when you first got your braces off, then you should wear you retainer as often as possible. This will keep your teeth straight and prevent future problems.