Patients often wonder if they will be wearing a retainer forever. An orthodontist in West Orange County answers this important question.

Will I Be Wearing a Retainer Forever?

Getting your braces off or finishing with your last Invisalign aligner is a great feeling. You’ve made it to the finish line and are ready to just enjoy your new smile. Many orthodontic patients are surprised, and frankly a little disappointed, to find out they will need to use a retainer after their treatment is complete. While wearing a retainer forever may seem like cruel and unusual punishment, it’s really not that bad, and it will help maintain that amazing smile you worked so hard for.

Why Do I Need to Wear a Retainer?

While Invisalign and braces actually move teeth into their desired positions, your teeth will not want to stay there. Each tooth is attached to your jaw with a membrane that holds them in place, and the membrane is surrounded by bone. During orthodontic treatment, the wires and brackets of braces or Invisalign aligners put gentle, constant pressure on these membranes, stretching them on one side of the tooth and shortening them on the other.

As your teeth slowly shift, new bone growth fills in the space where each tooth once was. When treatment is complete and this pressure is removed from your teeth, they won’t immediately spring back to their original positions, but they will shift gradually, breaking down the new, softer bone and undoing all of the hard work accomplished by your treatment.

This is where retainers come into play. They are not designed to move teeth, but to hold them in place while the new bone growth strengthens and your teeth settle into their new places.

How Long Do I Need to Wear My Retainer?

There are actually two parts to this question: how many months or years you have to wear a retainer, and how long you have to wear them each day. The answer to the first question is simple. If you want to maintain your new smile as best as you can, you will be wearing a retainer forever. However, it’s not as bad as it sounds.

When you first finish your treatment, your orthodontist will most likely recommend that you wear your retainer every day, all day. This is because your teeth are going to shift the fastest right after your braces are removed or you stop wearing aligners. As your teeth become more established in their new positions, you will not need to wear your retainer as often, possibly only at night or a few days a week. Your orthodontist will decide how often you need to wear your retainer and for how long based on your particular smile.

What If I Stop Wearing My Retainer?

Whether you decide not to wear your retainer, forget to wear it, or lose or break it, the outcome is the same—your teeth will eventually start to shift. Fortunately, there are ways to get your smile back on track. If you damaged or lost your retainer recently, it may be possible for you to have a new one made and start wearing it again to prevent changes to your smile.

If it’s been awhile since you have worn your retainer and you have noticed minor shifting in a few of your teeth, Invisalign Express is designed to fix small issues in a short amount of time. Invisalign Lite takes a bit longer, about 6 to 12 months, and it can fix slightly bigger problems. Both of these Invisalign options use clear, removable aligners, making them convenient orthodontic treatment for busy adults.

Wearing a retainer is really not a big deal, especially when it means you’ll have a straight, healthy smile for a lifetime!

Fravel Brewer Orthodontics has been helping patients achieve beautiful smiles as the preferred orthodontist in Winter Garden, Ocoee, and West Orange County, Florida for almost 30 years. Treatment options for kids and adults include Invisalign, Invisalign Teen, ceramic braces, and silver braces. Call us at (407) 656-0001 to schedule a free consultation today!