Getting your braces off is a great feeling. The same is true of finishing Invisalign or any other orthodontic treatment. But the next stage in your treatment is just as important: retention. Retention means maintaining your results via a retainer.
A retainer is an orthodontic appliance that you wear after orthodontic treatment to keep your teeth from shifting back to their previous position. It helps you maintain all of the wonderful, hard-earned progress of your treatment.
One of the most common questions is, how long do you have to wear a retainer? Here’s what you can expect.
Phase 1: Full Time Wear
For the first few weeks after completing your orthodontic treatment, you will need to wear your retainers full time. You can take them out to eat, brush your teeth, play sports, or play a musical instrument, but you should aim to wear them at least 14 hours a day.
The reason for this is that immediately after your treatment your teeth are at the greatest risk of shifting back out of alignment. The support structures for your teeth, which include your jaw bone, ligaments, and gum tissue, need time to adjust and solidify the current position of your teeth. Once this happens you can reduce the amount of time you wear your retainers.
Phase 2: Nighttime Wear
When your teeth have had time to settle into their new positions, your orthodontist may allow you to reduce your retainer wear to nighttime. You can put your retainers in before you go to bed each night and take them out again in the morning.
It is very important to wear your retainers every night because your teeth are still susceptible to shifting because of all the forces your teeth encounter from your lips, tongue, eating, etc. If your retainers begin to feel tight when you put them in at night, consider wearing them for a bit longer during the day until they fit more comfortably each night.
Never Stop Wearing Your Retainers
Most orthodontists recommend that you never stop wearing your retainers altogether. There is always a chance that the teeth could shift out of alignment again, and no one wants to repeat orthodontic treatment if they could prevent it. Keep wearing your retainers at night and check to see that they still fit comfortably.
Types of Retainers
There are a few different types of retainers that your orthodontist may recommend for you following your orthodontic treatment.
- Clear. Clear plastic retainers fit over the teeth like Invisalign trays. They are basically invisible.
- Hawley. Hawley retainers are a combination of plastic and metal. The metal portion fits against the front side of your teeth and the plastic portion fits behind.
- Permanent. A permanent retainer is made of metal and is cemented to the back side of the bottom row of teeth. It is convenient and invisible, but makes it more difficult to keep the bottom teeth clean.
Retainer Recommendations From Andover Orthodontics
At Andover Orthodontics, we want you to get the best possible results from your orthodontic treatment, and for those results to last forever. The best way to do that is to wear your retainers according to our recommendations. If you ever have a problem with your retainers or if they stop fitting, let us know and we will do our best to correct it.