When can I stop wearing my retainers?

It is critical that you wear your retainers as instructed by your orthodontist after removing your braces, every night without stopping, forever, in order to prevent your teeth from shifting back to their previous condition before braces.

The most exciting and anticipated stage of an orthodontic patient is the removal of braces or Invisalign aligners at the completion of your treatment. After wearing braces/aligners for a long time, you can barely wait to have your teeth freed. However, this stage is not entirely carefree as you need to wear retainers, for the rest of your life!

Retainer after braces

Your teeth are held in place by the periodontal ligaments, which are in turn supported by your braces or aligners. After your braces/aligners are removed, the pressure exerted on the ligaments is released, causing the ligaments to be loose, which may allow them to return to their original position.

Retainers after braces: how long should I wear them?

As such, your orthodontist will instruct you to wear your retainer, all the time, for 6 to 9 months, within which your periodontal ligaments will tighten up in the new position of your straightened teeth. After this period, you can wear your retainers several nights in a week as you sleep, to ensure that your teeth remain in that position for the rest of your life. You have been in braces for a long time, and this final step is essential for maintaining the beautiful smile that you attained after your braces came off.

Types of retainers after braces

Retainers refer to the personalized removable appliances that are not only used to hold your teeth in their new position, but also treat small orthodontic problems like the misalignment of teeth as wisdom teeth emerge in teenagers. They are typically made of clear plastic or rubber and metal wires to cover the external surface of your teeth. There are many kinds of retainers including permanent retainer, Essix retainer, and Hawley retainers.

Permanent retainers

Permanent retainers are usually bonded or glued to the back of the six front lower teeth, which implies that they are always in your mouth. Their positioning prevents people from seeing them, but they may disturb your tongue, cause discomfort that can be fixed with dental wax, and make it difficult to floss. They retain your teeth well, and can be substituted with other retainers after the first 6-9 months.

Hawley retainers

Hawley retainers are made of plastic or acrylic that fits in your mouth, and a bendable wire that goes across the front of the teeth. While they are noticeable, they are adjustable, which allows you to change the setting if the teeth are not meshing properly after treatment.

Essix retainers

Essix retainers are made from molded clear plastic, which is efficient in holding your teeth in the right position and preventing enamel wear. However, they prevent your teeth (top and bottom) from meeting naturally.


Do you have to wear a retainer forever?

Yes. You will have to wear retainers for the rest of your life to keep your teeth in perfect condition. But after two years, you’ll only need to wear them at night when sleeping, and even then you can skip a night or two without serious repercussions. This aspect, combined with the huge financial investment, implies that you need to clean and maintain them properly for long usage.

Do you have to wear retainers forever after braces?

Yes, but not all the time. You must wear your retainer as soon as your braces are taken off. Although you won’t have to wear your retainer indefinitely, you should follow your orthodontist’s instructions to prevent relapse and any imminent tooth shifting.  Your retainer is customized to fit your newly straightened teeth, and it must be worn constantly for the first three months after treatment to preserve the best results. Wearing a nighttime retainer is advised for the rest of your life, or, as we like to say,” for as long as you want to keep your teeth straight!”

Do you have to wear retainers forever after invisalign?

Once your Invisalign treatment is complete, you will need to wear retainers for the rest of your life if you want to keep your smile straight and attractive, and don’t want to lose the time and money you invested in it.

Your new straight set of teeth will first be unfamiliar to the bone and gums of your jaw. The remodeling process could take several years to finish. Between our lips, gums, and tongue, our teeth are balanced. This could be affected by continued facial and dental development; these changes are all a natural aspect of aging, which continues throughout our lifetimes.

Therefore, it’s crucial that you wear your braces as directed by your orthodontist. This could be full-time for the first two years, and every night thereafter forever. Over time, you can start skipping a day or two without any adverse effects.

Can i stop wearing my retainer after 2 years?

During the first 3 – 6 months, you need to wear your retainers for 22 hours a day or more. The only time you should remove them is when eating or brushing/flossing your teeth. After 2 –years or nearly full-time wear and continuous monitoring by your orthodontist, you may be allowed to wear them at night only. But you cannot stop wearing them.

How often to wear retainer after 10 years?

By the time you get to the second year of wearing retainers, you only need to wear them at night. From the third year to the tenth year and even after, you will need to continue with this night-time routine. That said, you will have a lot more flexibility after 3 years, whereby you can skip an occasional night or two without the fit feeling tight when you wear them again. After 10 years, you can strive to wear them every other night without any adverse effects.


  • Editorial team

    A team comprising oral health care professionals, researchers, and professional Writers, striving to impart you with the knowledge to improve your oral health, and that of your loved ones. 

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