Retainers: How long do I wear them?

wear my retainers, Retainers: How long do I wear them?, Cooper & Misner Orthodontics

How long am I expected to wear my retainer?

A popular question we are often asked!  The short answer: as long as you want your teeth to stay straight!

How often do I wear my retainers in the beginning?

After your braces are removed, we take a scan, print 3D models of your teeth, and use that model to create clear retainers for you. At your retainer appointment, we have you try on the retainers to check the fit and teach you the proper way to take the retainers out of your mouth. For the next six weeks you will be instructed to wear the clear retainers during the day and remove them at night when you go to sleep. You will only take them out to eat, drink (unless it’s water), and to brush the retainers at least twice per day! 

What about after a month or so?

At your six week retainer check appointment, as long as everything looks good, we will instruct you to wear your retainers night time only. This should be at least eight hours overnight. If you don’t sleep eight hours, just pop your retainer in after dinner for a few hours and while you are sleeping to make sure you reach eight hours! After this appointment, you will want to continue taking great care of your retainers and keep the 3D printed models in a safe place. 

How can I make sure my retainers stay clean?

To extend the life of your retainers, make sure you brush them with a toothbrush & toothpaste after wearing them. Soak your retainers once per week in 1 cup of cool water and one denture cleaning tablet for 30 minutes. Once per month, soak the retainers in 1 cup of cool water and 1 tablespoon of Clorox bleach for 10 minutes. Be sure to always rinse your retainers well after bleaching. Be sure to keep your retainers away from any animals, as retainers are commonly chewed up by pets. To be safe, always keep your retainers in the case we provided you when they are out of your mouth.

Store the 3D models somewhere they won’t get thrown away or damaged by heat. In the event that you need new retainers later down the road, you’ll want to bring those models in to save you time and money. Remember, new retainers made from your models will only fit if you have been faithfully wearing your retainers prior to them being lost or damaged.

Am I expected to wear my retainers for years to come?

Moving forward, it’s up to you to wear your retainers every night. You might think you can get away with skipping a few days every now and then, but it’s best to wear the retainers every night! Even if you don’t see a major shift after skipping one night, your teeth can still move, especially after multiple days of not wearing the retainers. If you put your retainer in and it feels tight, that is a sure sign that you are not wearing it enough. The longer you go without wearing it, the more your teeth shift, and the less likely it is that your retainer will continue to fit properly.

Our recommendation? Wear your retainers every single night. Make it a part of your nightly routine! It only takes a few seconds to put them in at night and just a few minutes to clean them each morning. You’ll be glad you do it!