How Long Do You Have to Wear A Retainer After Braces

How long do you have to wear a retainer after braces?

Finishing an orthodontic treatment can give so much relief to any patient. It’s like freedom has been restored in your mouth. You are free to eat anything you want. You can clean your teeth easily. You no longer have to go to the dental office often.

But then, your orthodontist tells you that you have to wear a retainer. The braces may

It does not matter whether you had braces or removable clear aligners to get your teeth straightened, in the end, you will be required to wear retainers. Most patients often feel disappointed when they hear this and start wondering when will this all end.

In this article, we will discuss how long do you really have to wear your retainer and why is it important for your teeth.

How long do you have to wear your retainer?

At first, you will be required to wear them for 12 to 22 hours a day for 3 to 6 months. The number of hours and months will depend on the severity of your initial orthodontic issues, your age, and whether the retainers are also being used to finalize some tooth positions.

After the initial 3 to 6 months program, your orthodontist can clear you to wear your retainers every night. After wearing retainers for at least 12 months, you will be recommended to wear your retainers at night only 3 to 5 times a week. And this should be implemented for the rest of your life.

The severity of the correction plays a huge factor in how long you have to wear your retainers. The more work your teeth went through, the longer you will have to wear the retainers. Those with very crooked teeth before getting their braces are more prone to their teeth shifting back to their original position.

And yes, we are not kidding when we say you have to wear retainers for the rest of your life. Read on to the next section to see why retainers are so important and why you have to wear them for the rest of your life.

Why are retainers required?

A retainer is a customized dental tool designed to keep the new position of your teeth in place after your braces treatment. You have to understand why retainers are important for your post-treatment phase.

Your teeth will not stay in their new position forever. This is because as the years will pass, your teeth will shift and there is a possibility that they can shift back to their original position as you age.

Your body is always in a state of change and your teeth are not exempted from them. Every time you take a bite or chew something hard, your teeth will also move slightly. And this is especially the case for people who often grind and clench their teeth.

It’s a natural process and not even the most expensive braces can stop that from happening in the future. The only way to stop this from happening is to wear your retainers as prescribed by your orthodontist.

If you do not wear your retainer after your braces, there is a big chance that you will undo all the work your braces did in correcting your dental issues. You may even have to wear braces again! Just think about all the time and cost that you have spent on your braces.

There is a misconception that retainers are only worn after braces treatment. But the truth is, retainers are required for any type of position-correcting treatment – whether it be braces or surgery.

You see, when the position of your teeth is corrected, the gum and the bone that holds them in place are not strong enough to keep them that way. The retainers will help give your teeth time to settle into the tissue and jawbone that houses them.

Type of retainers

Your orthodontist can recommend a removable or a fixed retainer for you after braces. Which one you get will depend on your dental situation.

Removable retainer

A removable retainer is typically worn for four months to a year after you take off your braces. After the prescribed period that you have to wear it, your orthodontist will tell you if you need to wear it longer. If not, you will be told to wear your retainer only during the night indefinitely.

Because this type of retainer is removable, you can remove it whenever you are eating a meal or whenever you are cleaning your teeth. Because of this, it is more convenient and it is easier to maintain good oral hygiene.

Bonded retainer

A bonded retainer is worn longer (generally for years), depending on your dental situation. This gives you a greater chance of retaining all the benefits of your braces treatment since it constantly keeps your teeth in place. After the prescribed period, your orthodontist may recommend you to wear a removable retainer during the night indefinitely.

A bonded retainer will be fixed to the back of your teeth so you do not have to keep track of it or worry about not wearing it enough. But since it is fixed on your teeth, you have to take special care when you clean your teeth. You will also still have to be conscious about what you eat.

How long do retainers last?

For hygienic purposes, you should be replacing your retainers from time to time. Retainers are also subject to wear and tear and are usually replaced once a year on average.

If you have a bonded retainer, you will be likely asked to replace it after a couple of years or when the bonding glue becomes loose.

If you have removable retainers, you can tell that you need to replace your retainers if there are changes in the way it looks or when it does not fit as well as they used to.

How much do retainers cost?

Retainers are relatively cheaper than braces. Most of the time, your first retainer will be included in the cost of your orthodontic treatment.

You will most likely be paying for replacements. And the cost of retainers will depend on what type of retainer you are prescribed to wear.

The removable retainers can cost you anywhere between $150 to $300. The permanent retainers can cost you anywhere between $200 to $500.

Retainer FAQ

Should retainers be custom-made?

Your retainer should fit the new alignment and shape of your teeth so that it can ensure the stability of the new position. Basically, when you wear your retainer, it should be a perfect fit.

So do not be fooled by a one-size-fit-all retainer that usually sells in the market for a cheaper price. You might end up with a retainer that is loose and that would give space for your teeth to shift or be tight enough to damage your teeth instead of helping it.

Retainers should be made specifically for you ad your teeth. You should be getting your retainers from your orthodontist. Preferably, the one who gave you your orthodontic treatment.

How much will a retainer impact my life?

This will depend on the type of retainer you have. Aesthetic-wise, retainers are less noticeable compared to braces. This means that the appearance of your smile will not be affected.

When it comes to the feeling of wearing one, it usually takes a couple days for you to adjust to it. After a few days, you will barely notice that it is there.

If you have a bonded retainer, you will need to take extra care when you brush your teeth just like you do with fixed braces.

Can I eat with my retainer on?

Unless you have a bonded retainer, you must always take off your retainer before you eat something. Eating with your removable retainer on can damage the retainer.

Drinking clear beverages with a retainer is usually okay as long as you make sure to wash them later. Once you take it out, wash it thoroughly to avoid buildup from sugars or other ingredients in drinks.

Are retainers painful to wear?

Retainers are not painful. Most patients report that they feel odd at first but it is something that you will get used to wearing over time. You are most likely to experience slight discomfort as you adjust to the feeling of wearing them but that will be gone in a few days.

There is also a tendency for retainers to hurt if you do not wear them regularly. The inconsistent use makes your teeth sore from time to time so you must wear them as prescribed.

Do I still need to do regular checkups for my retainers?

Yes, you will still need to continue scheduling appointments for checkups after your braces treatment. Your orthodontist should be able to monitor any movement so that they can immediately make a change to your retainers. You will also be given feedback and advice when it comes to the cleanliness and maintenance of your retainer.

Can I wear a retainer even if I have not worn braces?

Some orthodontists would actually recommend retainers even for patients who did not have braces. They usually do this when the patient needs to correct an overbite or realign the jaw.

Some people also wear a retainer to improve their speech. This is because the retainers can help adjust the position of the tongue while you are speaking, making it ideal for correcting speech impediments.

Can I use a retainer instead of braces to straighten my teeth?

The name says it all – all a retainer can do is to “retain.” A retainer can only retain the current position of your teeth. Their job is to keep your teeth straight but they can never straighten teeth.

Wearing your retainer as an orthodontic treatment will not work. Braces are the only way you can have your teeth straightened or close up a gap between your teeth.

Are retainers covered by insurance?

If your insurance covers orthodontic treatments, it is most likely that your insurance can pay for the cost of your retainer. However, some insurance policies will not cover replacements. The only way to know for sure is to call up your insurance provider and have them review your policy with you.


Your teeth are always on the move as you age. You may not notice it until it is too late. In fact, your teeth will remember their original position and once it starts shifting, they will move towards their original alignment.

Retainers are important – without them, you will be wasting all the time and money you spent on your braces treatment. So do not be discouraged! Wearing your retainer is an important part of keeping your new and better smile.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *