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How Long Do I Need to Wear a Retainer After Braces?

Millions of Americans undergo orthodontic treatment every year, and for pretty much all of them, wearing a retainer is going to be part of the process. That's because, like brackets, wires, and aligners, retainers play a major part in creating your new, beautiful smile.

A leading orthodontics practice in Cupertino, California, Constant and Contro Orthodontics provides comprehensive orthodontic treatment, including state-of-the-art retainers focused on helping you get the most from your treatment. 

In this post, our team discusses how retainers work and how long you can expect to wear your retainer after treatment.

The important role of retainers

Retainers are aptly named — their sole purpose is to help your teeth retain their positions after orthodontic treatment. That’s because, after treatment, your teeth are still adjusting to their new locations.

Remember: Orthodontic treatment moves your entire tooth, including the roots. As the roots shift positions in your jaw, the bone surrounding the roots is constantly remodeling to conform and secure the root. After treatment, retainers provide the roots with the additional support they need to help them settle into their new positions.

At the same time, the forces from biting, chewing, and teeth-grinding habits put pressure on your teeth, even before the roots have completely stabilized. That makes it even more likely that, without regular retainer wear, your teeth will move out of alignment.

For a few months after your treatment, the jawbone that surrounds your tooth roots is in a remodeling stage, reforming around the root and hardening to provide firm support that withstands the pressures of chewing and biting. During this initial period, you’ll wear your retainer for a longer period of time — most of the day. 

As your teeth stabilize, you’ll be able to cut back on your retainer wear, but you’ll probably want to continue wearing it regularly. In fact, many people wear their retainers while they sleep for 2-3 nights each week to keep their smiles looking their best.

How long to wear your retainer

Like every aspect of orthodontic treatment, the time you’ll need to wear your retainer varies based on your own unique needs. Our team recommends retainer wear on a patient-by-patient basis to make sure you get the best results.

Initially, every patient needs to wear their retainer full time, day and night, until their teeth are stable in their new positions. You can expect this phase of full-time wear to last for several months or perhaps more than a year — again, depending on your needs.

After this initial stage, you’ll wear your retainer for a specific time each day or for several days each week, typically at night while you sleep. While some people benefit from wearing a retainer for a specific period of time after their treatment, many benefit from wearing their retainer 2-3 nights per week indefinitely to prevent shifting later on.

Our team determines the best recommendations for retainer wear based on your needs, looking at your anatomy, your bite balance, and other factors. In every case, the focus is on ensuring you maintain the beautiful results you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

A lifetime of benefits

Orthodontic treatment offers lots of benefits ranging from a more attractive smile to greater confidence to reduced risks of oral and overall health problems. If you’re nearing the end of your orthodontic treatment, your retainer can help you lock in those benefits for life.

To learn more about retainers and orthodontic treatment in general, request an appointment online or over the phone with the team at Constant and Contro Orthodontics today.

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