How Long do I Need to Wear a Retainer After my Braces Come Off?

Once your orthodontic treatment is over, you will wear a retainer to help keep your teeth straight. But for how long do you have to wear a retainer after the braces are gone? That depends on many things. Here is what you need to know about retainers to ensure your smile continues to look as healthy.

What Braces Correct

Braces are necessary to correct various conditions, including bad bite (or malocclusion), crooked or protruding teeth, misaligned jaws, or misalignment at any point in your mouth. Malocclusions can be caused by thumb-sucking as a child, an accident that damages the mouth, or premature tooth loss. However, malocclusions can be a genetic factor too.

When They Come Off

Having braces removed is undoubtedly a reason to smile, but your retainer needs to be your best friend to keep that smile. A retainer is a custom-made appliance designed to keep teeth in place after braces are finally removed. Although this device is removable, your newly aligned teeth need time to fit into the jawbone and soft tissue that contain them. After the braces come off – teeth naturally try to shift over time, which can ruin the effort and expense put into the treatment. Wearing a retainer at night and between meals allows your teeth to hold on to their new positions.

Types of Retainers

There are two main types of retainers: removable and fixed.

Removable retainers can easily slip out of your mouth when you eat or brush your teeth. You should wear a removable retainer full-time for at least one year after your braces come off. The dentist will decide the length of time a retainer is worn, depending on the braces treatment. After that time period, if no movement is detected, your dentist may recommend wearing them only at night. On the other hand, fixed retainers are usually kept in place for several years, and can be worn for several decades.

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