Pretty, smiling girl holding a dental retainer in her hand.

You’ve finally finished your orthodontic treatment. Hurrah! No more braces!

But wait! Dr. Fodero said you’ll need to wear a retainer. Why should you wear a retainer after orthodontic treatment, and how long will you need to wear it?

Why do you need to wear a retainer?

Orthodontic retainers are just as important as the orthodontic treatment you received to straighten your teeth!

Your teeth have been moved into their optimum position, but for them to settle into their new biological position and become stabilized takes time. The process of rebuilding bone and securing teeth in their new position will take about 12 months. Because of this, the first year following your orthodontic treatment is crucial.

A retainer “retains” your teeth in their new position while they settle in, preventing relapse and the ruin of expensive orthodontic treatment.

How long do you wear a retainer?

The first three months after you’ve completed your orthodontic treatment you need to wear your retainers full-time, which means approximately 22 hours a day. That does mean you will need to sleep with them. However, you can remove them when you eat or brush your teeth.

After that initial three months, you will wear your retainer for 12 hours a day (or night) for the next nine months. By the end of this first year, your teeth should be more securely placed and less likely to quickly relapse. But, that doesn’t mean your retainer-wearing days are over!

The straight answer is (pun intended!) you will need to continue wearing a retainer for as long as you want a beautiful, straight smile! Otherwise, relapse is inevitable. The good news is, after that first year, you only need to wear it for eight hours each day so you will need to wear it only while you’re sleeping. You will be able to enjoy your straight, brace-free smile during the day fully!

“Nighttime for a lifetime.”

Yes, that does seem like a pretty big commitment to make. However, it’s easier than you think! You can think of it as just being a part of your nightly routine – brush, floss, and put in your retainer. Done!

Remember, regularly wearing your retainer is a much less costly alternative than having to undergo orthodontic treatment again for a relapsed smile!

Do you have more questions about retainers? Just give us a call at (973) 701-2200 and we will be happy to answer them.