Whether you had metal braces, ceramic braces or Invisalign, getting your braces off isn’t the end of your teeth-straightening journey. Instead, you graduate to a retainer, which you will likely only need to wear at night. You might be wondering why retainers are necessary or how to best handle wearing one for the next several years. Here are the answers you’re looking for.

Retainer Use Prevents Relapse

You invested quite a bit of money and several months or even years of your life to get your teeth straight. Don’t let the idea of nighttime retainer use turn you off or you could end up needing braces again later down the road.

At Speaks Orthodontics in Denver, we recommend wearing your retainer at night for as long as possible – maybe even for the rest of your life. An outdated recommendation is to wear your retainer for two years after getting your braces off. However, “relapse” can occur at any age after any degree of teeth straightening. Relapse occurs when your teeth shift out of alignment, often migrating back to where they were before you had braces. Since tooth movement occurs naturally as a part of aging, wearing your retainer forever helps you maintain the look you had the day you got your braces off.

Decide How Often You Should Wear Your Retainer

To start, you may need to wear your retainer up to 22 hours per day, especially if Dr. Speaks intends to use the retainer to finalize a few tooth positions. Once you get approval, you can switch to nighttime retainer use only. We recommend wearing your retainer every night for a year or two after getting your braces off to really solidify the final position of your teeth.

Following this period, you can switch to wearing your retainer every other night. To keep track, decide whether you’ll wear your retainer on odd- or even-numbered days. After another year of doing this, you may be able to cut back to one night a week or even one night a month. However, if you attempt this and the retainer makes your teeth sore once you finally put it back in, return to more frequent use. For recommendations or answers to questions, call our Denver office.

When to Replace Your Retainer

You may discover the need to replace your retainer several times over the course of your life. We keep your molds on record so when you need a replacement due to loss, breakage or wear, you can order a new one at a discounted price.

Expect to replace your retainer every two to 10 years. How long your retainer lasts depends on how well you take care of it. Help prolong the life of your retainer with these tips:

  • Clean your retainer: Do this every morning after wearing your retainer the previous night. You can soak it in denture cleaning tablets or brush it with a dedicated toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Store your retainer properly: To prevent loss or damage, always store your retainer in its dedicated container. Keep the container itself in the medicine cabinet, on your nightstand or in another convenient location.
  • Clean your teeth: Your retainer will stay in better condition if you only wear it after brushing and flossing. To keep your teeth and gums healthy, never skip these steps, especially before bed.