How Long Are Retainers Worn Once Braces Are Removed?

Finally, your braces have been removed and your smile is beautiful, straight, and best of all, metal-free! However, your orthodontic journey isn't quite completed. To keep your smile looking its best, you'll have to wear a retainer to preserve and stabilize your results. Retainers are needed to control or limit potential changes in tooth position. They are used after braces treatment to hold teeth in their correct alignment while the surrounding gums, bone, and muscle adjust to the new positioning of your teeth.

The duration of wearing a retainer after orthodontic treatment can vary depending on several factors, including the specific treatment plan, the individual's orthodontic needs, and the recommendations of the orthodontist. However, typically, Dr. Brad Gilbert, Dr. Adam Wells and Dr. Svetlana Lekht advise wearing a retainer for an extended period after the active orthodontic treatment is complete.

How Often Are Retainers Worn?

Initially, after the braces or aligners are removed, a full-time retainer is often prescribed. This means wearing the retainer consistently, usually 12 to 24 hours a day, for a few months and may include alternating removable upper and lower retainers. This phase allows the teeth to stabilize in their new positions and ensures that they do not shift back to their original alignment.

After the initial full-time wear period, the orthodontist may recommend transitioning to part-time wear, usually during sleep. This phase can last for several more months or even years. It's crucial to follow the orthodontist's instructions regarding the frequency and duration of retainer use during this phase.

Eventually, many individuals are advised to continue wearing the retainer on a less frequent basis, such as a few nights a week, to maintain the results achieved through orthodontic treatment. Some individuals may need to wear retainers long-term, while others may gradually reduce their usage over time. The orthodontist will provide specific guidance based on individual circumstances.

It's important to note that every person's orthodontic treatment and retention needs are unique, so the duration of retainer wear can vary. It's vital to consult with your SmilesForever Orthodontics orthodontists to determine the appropriate duration and retainer regimen for your specific case.

Should Retainers Be Removed With Sports Activities? 

When involved in sports activities or swimming regularly, it’s advisable to speak with Drs. Gilbert, Wells and Lekht as they’ll give you specialized instructions. In some cases, they may suggest using a mouthguard for sports activities to provide protection and minimize the risk of dental injuries.

Types of Retainers & How To Choose

We offer several types of retainers at our Dacula, Duluth, Flowery Branch and Loganville, GA., SmilesForever Orthodontics locations. You’ve worn your braces and appliances and want to make the best choice and we’re going to help! Toward the end of your treatment, our doctors will guide you in the best retainer options to keep your smile healthy and beautiful.

Retainers are custom-made and can be removable or fixed.

  • Traditional removable retainers typically include a metal wire that surrounds the front teeth and is attached to an acrylic arch that sits in the roof of the mouth. The metal wires can be adjusted to finish treatment and continue minor movement of the front teeth as needed.
  • Aligner-style retainers, or Essix retainers, look similar to clear aligners and offer a more aesthetic alternative to wire retainers. This clear retainer may fit over the entire arch of your teeth, or only from canine to canine (clip-on retainer). It is produced from a mold of your newly aligned teeth.
  • Fixed retainers consist of wires bonded behind the bottom and/or top teeth. While the device is usually required no more than a year after wisdom teeth have been extracted, it is often kept in place for life.

If you’re ending the final active treatment phase of braces and preparing for retainers — CONGRATULATIONS! You’re almost done with braces and closer to revealing your beautiful, confident forever smile! Remember to wear your retainers exactly as we’ve instructed and call us with any questions at any of our Gwinnett County, Hall County and Loganville County, GA locations. 

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