Retainer Types and Length of Time for Wearing Them
Depending on your dental situation, you might receive a removable and a fixed retainer. Or your orthodontist might recommend both – one on your upper teeth and the other on your bottom teeth. Whichever one you sport, your orthodontist will prescribe when and how long you must wear the retainer for optimum results, notes the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO).
Removable Retainer: You'll typically wear this retainer full time for four months to a year after braces, only removing it when you're eating or brushing your teeth. After your prescribed period of time, your orthodontist will determine if you need to wear your retainer longer.
Even if your orthodontist detects no tooth movement following the time you wear your retainer, they might recommend keeping your retainer on only during the night for further assurance your straightened teeth are stable. This could be for a few months or years more – or, depending on your teeth, indefinitely.
Fixed Retainer: With a fixed retainer, you don't have to keep track of it or remember to put it in after eating or brushing. Bonded to your teeth in an unobtrusive spot – usually the back of your teeth – you might need to wear this retainer longer, perhaps years.
Because you can't remove a fixed retainer when eating, there's a chance that periodontal issues might arise without strict oral health measures. However, there's a greater chance of retaining all the benefits your braces provided because it's constantly keeping your teeth stable.