How Long Do You Have to Wear Retainers?

How long do you have to wear retainers

How Long Do You Have to Wear Retainers?

The precise duration needed to wear retainers in order to maintain your new smile varies according to your treatment plan. In most cases, the process takes at least four to six months. There are, however, a variety of ways in which retainers can be used during this process. Permanent retainers or removable retainers can be used to help in maintaining your new smile, and the choice lies largely with what your orthodontist recommends. 

We’ll go over more details below about how the duration of retainer wear varies according to different circumstances and preferred materials.

Do You Have to Wear Retainers Forever?

Retainers are very important to wear all the time in the first few months after your clear aligners treatment is completed. This is because the process of realigning your teeth with clear braces and other orthodontist tools tend to make the bone soft and malleable. Once the teeth have been realigned, it’s easy for them to slip back to their original place. Retainers prevent exactly that from happening so you don’t end up wasting any of the money and time spent on your orthodontic treatment.

Children have it a little easier than adults do when it comes to keeping teeth in the proper shape. Once the bone hardens around the realigned teeth, it’s more likely to stay that way. Because adult jaws are much stronger, they have a greater chance of relapse and misalignment. 

Regardless of invisible braces, our teeth tend to shift over time as we age. Wearing a retainer as an adult can help keep a smile in place for years to come, so in some cases, it’s recommended to wear a retainer every night for the rest of your life. For children, a retainer can achieve a long-lasting smile when worn for at least 1 year.

How Should I Care for My Retainers?

The removable nature of Hawley and plastic retainers make them straightforward to clean. It’s recommended to brush out your teeth and removable retainers with tap water after every meal. You can clean it more thoroughly with a specific retainer cleaner or ask your orthodontist.

Fixed retainers tend to present challenges when you floss your teeth for proper cleaning, but you can ask your dentist or orthodontist for help in finding the best technique to clean your teeth with a fixed retainer.

How Long Should I Wear Retainers a Day?

As mentioned above, it’s important to wear your retainers constantly during the first 4 – 6 months after the completion of clear braces treatment. If you don’t do this, it’s easy for your teeth to relapse and you’ll lose all the benefits of your orthodontic treatment. Beyond this, how long you should wear a retainer also depends on the type of retainer you use. There are a few different options your orthodontist may recommend depending on your treatment and circumstances:

How Many Hours Should I Wear My Retainers?

While there’s no hard and fast number because every situation and treatment is different, you should expect to wear retainers for at least 20-22 hours a day in the first 4 – 6 months following aligners treatment. After this period of time, wearing your retainers overnight should help keep your teeth aligned properly.

Permanent Retainers

Also called bonded retainers, fixed retainers or lingual wires. Permanent retainers are sometimes suggested by orthodontists if you have difficulty handling removable retainers. You’ll often hear about them used for the bottom teeth to help keep everything in place. Just as the name implies, permanent retainers don’t need to be taken on and off, but they can be difficult to maintain (especially if the wire snaps or debonds) and may potentially cause tartar and plaque buildup.

Removable Retainers

You can find both Hawley and clear plastic retainers that are easily removed — typically for eating and brushing teeth. Hawley retainers are made of thin metal wire and plastic (or acrylic) that is shaped to fit inside of your mouth. They’re not always popular on account of being visible, but they can last for years when cared for properly and will serve to keep teeth straight as long as you are able to wear it for as long as an orthodontist recommends.


Clear plastic retainers are specially moulded to fit the new position of your teeth and offer the same kind of support in keeping your teeth in place. On the plus side, they’re virtually invisible and less bulky than Hawley retainers. If you’d like to experience clear retainers without having to visit the orthodontist’s office, you can check out our clear retainers or click here to learn more about how you can save 65% on getting straighter teeth.

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Comments ( 8 )

  • Deryacenter

    I was wondering does this place u are able to get braces the same day as your orthodontist consultation It’s somewhat far for me since we live on the South end of Fayetteville,but my son procedure was done in a timely manner and the staff is very friendly Smiles all over the place and very patient with children. That may be fearful of the procedure of getting braces.

  • Daysis

    If your retainer is well maintained, it can cut down on the length of time you need it (not to mention it will be more comfortable and less likely to create hygiene issues.) If you fail to wear your retainer and your teeth begin moving, you might need orthodontic treatment again to correct them.

  • Med Advice

    The initial months after you complete your treatment is a time when the bone and tissues are not tightly holding your teeth in position. That being said, the chances of your teeth drifting out of alignment are higher, so you need to wear a retainer as often as you can- preferably all the time, except when eating to maintain your new smile.

  • APKun

    The initial months after you complete your treatment is a time when the bone and tissues are not tightly holding your teeth in position. That being said, the chances of your teeth drifting out of alignment are higher, so you need to wear a retainer as often as you can- preferably all the time, except when eating to maintain your new smile.

  • Worries

    Ideally, it’d be great to wear your retainers every night for the rest of your life. After all, you should want to preserve that beautiful smile that you and your orthodontist worked so hard for! But after the first year or so, even just a few nights a week for several years would be preferable to nothing at all. If you find that you have to wear the retainers all the time for your teeth to stay in place, then you should call your orthodontist immediately to have your teeth and retainers evaluated. Importantly, retainers are not meant to move your teeth further. Meaning, after your treatment is complete, your retainers should need minimal adjustments.

    • AlignerCo Team

      Hi Anis, You feedback holds a great value to us. Yes, you are correct retainers are meant to keep your teeth at the achieved position not to straighten them, if you need any assistance you are requested to please reach us out at support@alignerco.com and give us a call on 1 (877) 840-1561 for more details.

  • shiela

    Do the retainers look kinda like the aligners? I can’t wait to get my invisible braces. I wasn’t even thinking about the retainers!

    • AlignerCo Team

      Hi Sheila, Thank you for your comment. Yes, the retainers look same as aligners but they are used to prevent teeth from shifting back to their positions while aligners are used to straighten your teeth. Kindly follow the link https://www.alignerco.com/product/smileadvantage/ to place your order or reach out to us at support@alignerco.com for further assistance.

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