Wearing retainers: How often, how long? / Cleaning orthodontic retainers.

Ortho Retainers.

Wearing your retainers is required.

Wearing your dental retainers after your Invisalign® (or any type of braces) treatment has been completed is just as important as the realignment of your teeth itself. If they're not worn (as directed by your dentist), it's possible and even likely that your teeth will begin to shift.

In just a short amount of time, enough relapse can occur that the resulting change may not be easy to correct. Not wearing their dental retainers is the main reason why you hear of patients having to have braces a second, or even a third, time.

What will you look like when you're wearing your retainers?

Wearing retainers isn't always so fun, especially if you don't like the way you look when you're wearing them.

Our slide-show graphic gives some quick points about the different types of retainers and shows you what they look like, to the people looking at you.

How often and for how long do you need to wear your (removable) orthodontic retainers?


When your dentist gives you your retainers, they will also outline for you how often they should be worn. At first, they may want you to wear them twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. And they may want you to do this for the next two to three months.

During this time period, your retainers should be removed when eating and when you brush and floss your teeth. Otherwise, they should be left in place.

Later on.

After finishing the first few months of around-the-clock wear, there will be probably be a point where your dentist decides that just nighttime use of your retainers (during sleep) will be enough. They'll also probably state that this regimen should be continued for several years, if not throughout the remainder of the patient's life.

You should monitor the fit of your retainers.

As you no doubt know, the whole idea of wearing orthodontic retainers is to make sure that the alignment of your teeth doesn't change. And, actually, each time you insert them you can check on this.

For example, if you haven't been wearing your retainers regularly and when you do they seem to fit snugly or are hard to get in place, then you need to realize that your teeth have begun to shift. The obvious solution is to wear your retainers more frequently. Doing so will guide your teeth back into proper alignment and hold them there.

Cleaning removable braces in an effervescent cleaner.

How do you clean dental retainers?

The same plaque and tartar that tends to accumulate on natural teeth will accumulate on your removable retainers too.

Add in the fact that you'll be wearing the same set of retainers on a long-term basis and you'll understand why it so important to be diligent when cleaning them so they stay clean looking and odor free.

Essix / Vivera®

For Essix-type appliances (clear plastic retainers), the same cleaning techniques that we describe for use with Invisalign® aligners should be suitable for your retainers too.


In the case of Hawley appliances (retainers that have both plastic and metal parts), you should scrub them thoroughly with a toothbrush after every time that you wear them or take them out to clean your teeth. As for soaks, you should ask your dentist what type of solution or product is appropriate for the type of materials that your retainers are made out of.

Dental Braces
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