You are officially free from your braces, but now you need to acquaint yourself with a retainer, so you may be wondering how long your retainer will last and what length of time you’ll need to wear it for. Some of our patients find the fact that retainers are a lifelong necessity a bit hard to chew. However, if you want to prevent your newly straightened teeth from shifting, you’ll need to regularly wear your retainer and make sure it’s in tip-top shape by replacing it when necessary.

When your braces are removed, your orthodontist will recommend you wear your retainer almost the entire day, every day, less the time you’re eating. You’ll want to maintain this routine for the first 3 to 6 months after your braces are taken off. After that point, with the go-ahead from your orthodontist, you may be able to transition to nighttime-only wear.

How Long are Retainers Supposed to Last?

There are no hard and fast rules for when you’ll need to get a new retainer, however, several factors may indicate when you’re up for a replacement:

How Long Do Bonded Retainers Last?

Also known as that permanent retainer attached to the back of your teeth. You may find the glue that bonds the retainer wears away with everyday activities such as eating and brushing your teeth. This type of retainer will typically last around three years or more, but keep an eye on the glue and wires to ensure your teeth are being properly fixed in place.

How Long Do Removable Retainers Last?

You may have one of two types of removable retainers:

  1. Acrylic Removable Retainer

sitting at the roof of your mouth or behind your teeth.

  1. Plastic Removable Retainer

a single piece of clear moulded plastic that goes over the teeth.

Both types of removable retainers can experience wear and tear over time. Acrylic removable retainers, referred to as Hawley retainers, may last up to 10 years. Plastic removable retainers may not last nearly as long and will likely need to be replaced more frequently.

For both types of removable retainers, keep an eye out for cracks, chips, ill-fit and an overall “dingy” look that indicates it may be time for a new appliance to keep your teeth in check.

How to Care for Your Retainer

The length of time that your retainer will last for is directly related to how well you care for your retainer. If your retainer is receiving the proper care, it should last for awhile. Here are a few steps to take to care of your retainer.

  1. Keep your retainer in a case when you are not wearing it
  2. Do not play with your retainer
  3. Brush your retainer routinely

Look After Your Retainer and It Will Look After Your Perfect Smile

If you’re unsure as to whether or not your retainer is in fine enough form to keep your teeth from shifting, you should schedule an appointment with your orthodontist as soon as possible to get their professional opinion. You don’t want an unclean or dysfunctional retainer doing any harm to the smile you’ve invested so much time and money into, so let Wonder West Orthodontics help you take amazing care of your teeth – now, and well into the future.