How long do I need to wear my retainers?

Retainers after Invisalign or Braces


We recently have finished Invisalign cases.  We recently saw a lot of patients with relapse from braces from their youth or after loosing their retainers.  All these patients ask, "How long do I need to wear my retainers?" 

I use to say "For Life." Now I say, "Every night, as long as you want to keep your teeth straight." 

This is a new philosophy in the past couple years.  When I was younger and had braces, I wore my retainer for a couple months.  It was then that my orthodontist told me I was good and didn't need it any longer.  Well, that was the thinking then.  Now, after we move the teeth, we know they will want to go back or relapse so we need to retain them in their new position for life.  This can be with a bonded appliance but it is more common and convention to make plastic retainers now.  These are worn every night and when missed, pressure can really be felt on the teeth as they are being moved back to the position they were in prior. 

Plastic retainers can stretch.  I found this out myself when I saw I had a set of four retianers following my ow, personal, Invisalign.  After a year of wearing one, I was cleaning the bathroom cabinets and saw the other three.  Thought, "Well, might as well change to a new one."  I was surprised how tight the fit was.  I then started reading about the material in the retainer (don't worry, it is BPA free!) and found out it can distort when being bit into place as I have the personally tendency to put them in the my mouth and then bite down to seat them.  This is a no, no!  I also grind so I am just pressurizing and distorting that plastic.  As a result, I chose to make myself a new night guard to function as a retainer in one arch and a update my retainer every 6 months in the other.  When you see your dentist for your routine cleanings, bring your retainers.  We will professionally clean them for you and evaluate them for their fit and efficacy! 
Wear your retainers, every night!