“How long do I have to wear my retainers?” is the most common question asked at the end of orthodontic treatment. The greatest answer I have heard is this: “As long as you want your smile to look the way it does today, retainers are a lifetime commitment.”

When you are in orthodontic treatment, either with braces or Invisalign, there is a force on your teeth moving them. This causes a two system reaction: the removal of bone and the rebuilding of bone! As your teeth move into their new positions the bone replacement involves the [osteoclasts] which break down bone and the [osteoblasts] which make new bone.

(Source: Boundless. “Bone Remodeling and Repair.” Boundless Biology. Boundless, 08 Jan. 2016. Retrieved 12 Jan. 2016 from https://www.boundless.com/biology/textbooks/boundless-biology-textbook/the-musculoskeletal-system-38/bone-216/bone-remodeling-and-repair-819-12062/)

Because teeth have been moved through bone into their new positions and it takes time for your bone to remodel and hold those teeth in the new position, retainer wear is so important. Many of our patients are still growing and that means your retainer wear is vital.We are certainly not trying to torture you, we simply want your results to remain in the best shape it can be. Once you have stopped growing some professionals find it acceptable to maintain results by wearing retainers 3-5 nights a week. This is recommended due to the slow shifting of teeth forward and inward as we get older. This movement happens very slowly and over time, however, it can be counteracted with consistent retainer wear.

Follow your orthodontist’s instructions as to how they want you to wear your retainers. Each office’s protocol is different, but all aim to keep your smile as perfect as the day you completed your orthodontic treatment. You may need additional sets of retainers through the years so if your orthodontist has options for retainer packages (as OX offers) be proactive and have at least one back up set to use just in case.