How long should I wear my retainer?

“How long should I wear my retainer?”

This is a question we get every day at Hughes Orthodontics from patients, parents, and friends. Before I give you the answer a simple parable may be helpful.

A retainer parable

Imagine you made a new years resolution to get in better shape, but you actually kept your promise. You went to the gym every single day for a year and were in the best shape of your life. Now, imagine someone told you that in order to stay in perfect shape, you didn’t have to keep working out every day, all you had to do was take a magic pill before bedtime. The catch was that if you stopped taking the pill, you’d lose that perfect fitness you’d worked so hard for. You’d take that pill wouldn’t you?

It’s the same with retainers. So our answer at Hughes Orthodontics always has been and always will be – “As long as you want your teeth to stay straight!”

As one of my professors in residency would always say, “Skin wrinkles, teeth wrinkle!” What he meant by that was that nothing in our bodies stays the same over time. Everything changes and shifts and “wrinkles” as we age, so we can’t expect our teeth to remain exactly the same over time without some help.

The Bottom Line

Your retainer is your only guarantee that your teeth stay in the position they were the day you got your braces off or finished your aligner therapy. Some people may be able to get away without wearing a retainer, but others stop wearing it just for a few days and their teeth noticeably shift. We’ve got no way of seeing into the future (although our doctors are working on their crystal ball illusions), so our best advice is to wear a retainer if you want to ensure (and insure!) that your teeth will stay straight.

If you have any questions about retainers please comment below, or if you’ve lost yours and need a new one give us a call!

– Dr. Justin


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