How Long Do You Need to Wear a Retainer?

If you just finished receiving orthodontic treatment, you might want to know how long you have to wear a retainer. Retainers are a common part of many orthodontic treatments and play an important role in ensuring that your smile stays beautiful for years to come.

To help provide you with a clearer understanding of wearing a retainer, we’ll be reviewing a few key factors below that can determine your timeline. Let’s start by examining how the type of prior orthodontic treatment you received can play a major role in timing. 

7 Factors that Can Determine How Long You Have to Wear Your Retainer

1: The Type of Previous Orthodontic Treatment You Received

From metal braces to ceramic braces and Invisalign, each form of treatment can influence how long you will have to wear a retainer. For example, metal braces tend to shift the teeth more quickly and forcefully compared to the gentler process with Invisalign aligners. Teeth are more likely to return back to their previous state without a retainer more quickly with metal braces. 

2: The Severity of Your Orthodontic Problem

Retainers can be provided following all sorts of orthodontic procedures ranging from mild work to intensive surgeries. If you received treatment for a more severe orthodontic problem, you will likely have to wear your retainer for a longer period of time. People who may have been born missing a tooth, for instance, might need a false tooth attached to their retainer to maintain the opening until a permanent implant can fill the space. 

Essentially, the longer your teeth take to adjust to their new position and stay in place, the longer you will have to wear a retainer. Your orthodontist can advise you on the general timeline, but some severe cases may require frequent retainer-wearing for years. 

3: How Closely Instructions are Followed

If you follow your orthodontist’s instructions to a tee and wear your retainer as directed, you will likely have to wear it for a shorter period of time than if you do not follow the treatment recommendations. Following your appointment, your orthodontist will provide you with instructions that will help ensure that your teeth stay in their new position and do not shift back out of place. 

4: How Well You Take Care of Your Retainer

Retainers require maintenance for them to be as effective as possible. If you take care of your retainer and clean it regularly, you will likely have to wear it for a shorter period of time than if you do not take care of it properly.

If you damage your retainer, contact your orthodontist immediately. They can arrange for a replacement to be made and recommend solutions while you wait so that your teeth are not at risk of shifting back to their pre-braces alignment. 

5: Your Age

Your age can also play a role in how long you have to wear a retainer. If you are under 25, your bones and tissues are still growing, which means your teeth are more prone to shifting out of place. For this reason, younger patients typically have to wear their retainers for a longer period of time than older adults.

6: Your lifestyle

Activities that place additional stress on your teeth, such as contact sports, can result in the need to wear a retainer for longer. If you tend to eat harder or chewier foods, this could also place additional pressure on your mouth. 

If you are playing sports, ask your orthodontist about mouthguards for orthodontic patients. These accessories can help protect your teeth against potential contact during physical activity and prevent them from shifting. 

An orthodontist may also recommend that you adjust your usual diet for the duration of your treatment. Choosing lighter and softer foods can help avoid unnecessarily stressing the teeth and contribute to more effective results. 

7: Your Orthodontist’s Recommendation

Ultimately, the decision on how long you have to wear a retainer after braces will be up to your orthodontist to decide. They will take into account all of the factors listed above and make a professional recommendation based on what they believe is best for you. Be sure to closely follow your orthodontist’s instructions so that your teeth can have the best possible outcome with little to no issues along the way. 

Get Orthodontic Treatment in St. Augustine, FL

Whether you’re looking to get braces for your child or seeking another form of orthodontic treatment,  our team at Henry Orthodontics offers expert care for all types of patients in the St. Augustine, FL area. Our orthodontists provide a great treatment experience along with flexible, patient-friendly payment options that are fit for any budget. 

To start treatment, contact us today to schedule a consultation.