How long do you need to wear retainers for?

Whether you opt for fixed braces or Invisalign aligners, you’ll need to wear retainers afterwards to maintain your amazing results.

Let’s take a look at why retainers are such an important part of maintaining your perfect smile and how long you’ll need to wear them for.

What is the difference between braces and retainers?

While braces change the alignment of your teeth over time, retainers maintain these changes to prevent orthodontic relapse. Retainers can be fixed, consisting of a discreet metal wire behind your upper and lower teeth, or removable, resembling a clear mouthguard or Invisalign aligners. Private orthodontic treatment at Splash Orthodontics includes both fixed and removable retainers for maximum peace of mind.

Why are retainers so important?

Without retainers, there’s a very good chance of orthodontic relapse, where your teeth move back out of alignment. You’re most at risk of relapse just after your braces are removed, while the bone that surrounds your teeth is adapting to its new position.

Even after this time, there’s always a chance your teeth could shift thanks to pressure from the elastic ligaments in your gums, which are stretched during orthodontic treatment. Furthermore, our teeth tend to move naturally with age.

Luckily, retainers will maintain your new smile and prevent any further age-related movement.

Be wary of companies offering ‘too good to be true’ prices for orthodontic treatment. If they don’t include retainers, you may end up spending a lot more in the long run.

What are the different types of teeth retainers?

Teeth retainers come in two main varieties: vacuum-formed removable retainers and fixed retainers. Removable retainers are clear and fit snugly over your teeth, while looking very inconspicuous. This type of retainer needs to be removed while you are eating or drinking. After a short period of full-time wear, you’ll only need to pop your removable retainers in at night.

Bonded retainers, formed of a fixed wire discreetly hidden behind your front teeth, are permanently fixed in place, so you don’t need to remember to wear them. They do require a little TLC when cleaning your teeth as they can make it harder to reach every surface. You will need to use interdental brushes or a water flosser instead of regular dental floss to clean between your teeth.

How long do I wear my retainers?

Retainers should be worn indefinitely after braces. It’s a popular misconception that you only need to wear your retainers for the first year or so after treatment. The reality is that without retainers, up to 70% of patients might need to repeat their orthodontic treatment to maintain their results.

Many adult patients discover they need treatment for a second time, because it wasn’t made clear to them that they needed to wear retainers long-term after treatment.

If your retainers get damaged or you can’t find them, it’s vital that you contact us to replace them as soon as possible, before your teeth can relapse.

If your teeth move slightly, they can be quickly corrected using fixed braces or Invisalign Express or Lite options, but the longer you leave it the further your teeth could move.

If you do lose or damage your retainers, we are able to provide replacements at our orthodontic practice in Hove, even if your retainers were originally fitted elsewhere. It’s also possible to purchase a spare set to keep on hand just in case your other retainers go missing.

How long will my retainers last?

Depending on the type of retainer, they could last anything from six months to several years. We’ll give you advice on how to maintain your retainers and keep them sparkling.

If you are a private patient and you experience any issues with your retainers within the first 12 months, we’ll repair or replace them free of charge.

If you have any unanswered questions about retainers, please don’t hesitate to contact our knowledgeable team for advice.

Invisalign: real reviews from happy patients

Read more

How to handle orthodontic emergencies

Read more

What to do if you lose your retainers

Read more