How Long Do You Have To Wear A Retainer?

Your braces have finally come off after what felt like an eternity. But, it's still not over — your orthodontist wants you to continue wearing a retainer. However, i's an important step. Wearing a retainer "ensures that the teeth don't shift or crowd due to lack of space," according to Thurman Orthodontics. As Healthline cautioned, "If you try to skip wearing your retainer for a couple of weeks or months, your teeth may shift, and your retainer may not fit your teeth properly anymore." Yes, it's imperative to wear your retainer consistently — but how long do you really need to use it?

According to a survey of orthodontists, "most ... recommend wearing these retainers every day for 9 months and then dropping down to nightly wear after that" (via Healthline). However, some must wear a permanent lingual retainer indefinitely. Your orthodontist will advise you which retainer is right for you, and how long you'll need to wear it. 

Retaining a commitment

On average, removable retainers can last between five to 10 years, and permanent retainers can last for decades, according to MedicineNet. But just how long your retainer lasts also depends on how well you take care of it, and the type of retainer you have.

Hawley wire retainers can last a long time and can be tightened and repaired if necessary (via Diamond Braces). However, they are more expensive and may allow the teeth to shift slightly if worn incorrectly. The wire from these retainers can also be seen over the teeth.

Removable plastic retainers have become more popular and can be more affordable, but they may not last as long as wire retainers. These retainers are somewhat "invisible" since they are made with clear plastic," according to Diamond Braces.

Permanent retainers, although not for everyone, can last a long time with good care. However, since they are bonded to the teeth, they are "much more difficult to clean, brush, and floss" and you must be mindful about not eating things that are too hard," MedicineNet avised.