Orthodontist Questions Dental Braces

How long does it take for teeth to set with retainers?

I am planning to get retainers for upkeep after my braces. Do I really have to wear them forever? How long do I have to wear them?

18 Answers

Great questions... How long do you want your teeth to be straight? If your answer is "forever," then your time to wear retainers will be "forever!"
Good luck and it will be worth it!
You will have to wear them at night so that your teeth do not shift.
If you promise not to change as you age you will not need retainers. HOWEVER, look at your parents and grandparents - did the color of their hair change, did they need different prescriptions in their eyewear as the aged. Everyone changes with age, can you wear the same clothes you wore when your were five. A retainer holds things static - it retains, you may not need to wear a retainer 24/7 but plan on keeping up with RETENTION.
Unfortunately your teeth will shift if you stop wearing your retainers, even if you have already worn them for many years. To maintain straight teeth, you should wear your retainers (at least at night while you sleep) indefinitely.
Retention is a lifetime issue. If you want to protect your effort and investment please commit to sleeping with the set of retainers every night.
You'll need to wear retainers for as long as you want to keep your teeth straight. Everybody is different on how many nights per week they need to wear them long term. Some people need to wear them 7 nights per week while others can go days in between. The truth is your teeth will move your entire life whether you had braces or not.
Yes, wear you retainers as long as you want your teeth to stay straight. You may only need to wear them a few nights a week after the first year of regular use. We dentist do not know who's teeth will be more likely to move than other patients. so we recommend to everyone to wear retainers long term. Retainers will wear down over the years, so get new ones from your orthodontist before they stop fitting well. It's cheaper than getting braces again.
You need to wear them at least 6 weeks 24/7 except when eating and brushing. We ask our patients to wear them nightly for two years and then 3 nights per week thereafter.
It normally takes a minimum of 6 months for the teeth and bone to stabilize. It can sometimes take longer, especially for adults. Therefore, my retainer protocol is to wear a retainer full-time for a minimum of 6 months after braces are removed. After 6 months, if the teeth have stabilized, then night time wear is prescribed forever. Teeth will always move throughout life, even if you have never worn braces. There are many things that can cause teeth to move (e.g., tongue thrust, playing an instrument like a flute, chewing more on one side, etc.). Therefore, the only way to keep your teeth straight is to wear your retainers at night forever. That is exactly what I do.

Hope this helps,

Dr. Frial
The only way to guarantee your teeth stay straight is to wear a properly fitting and properly constructed retainer at nighttime for as long as you want to guarantee the teeth stay straight. Once you stop wearing the retainer, there is no guarantee the teeth will stay straight.
It can take the teeth up to one year or more to stabilize after treatment. That is typically the amount of time necessary for the bone and surrounding structures to heal. Although everyone is different, we typically try to wean people off of wearing their retainers slowly. The main thing to keep in mind is that you should wear your retainers enough to keep your teeth in place and for your retainers to fit properly. Never throw them away as they are a tool to ensure that your teeth remain in position for a life time. For some people, after the first year out of braces, the positions of their teeth will never be stable enough for them to completely stop wearing their retainers, making it necessary to wear them several nights a week. For others it is just a matter of checking regularly that their retainers fit properly.
This depends on your age and how bad they were to start with. Bruxism and wisdom teeth can also add to movement. Get a lower fixed retainer or experiment with every night, everyother night or every third night wear with a remove able to see how stubborn your teeth are.
As long as you want your teeth to stay in the same position. Bone remodels around teeth your whole life.Teeth are not set in cement! They are surrounded by living tissue, which remodels your whole life. A fixed Lingual Wire retainer is an easy method of retaining your teeth position. As an orthodontist, I use these in 99% of cases.
You should wear them full time for about 7 months then half time for the remainder of a two year period. After that, you should continue to wear them every night. The teeth can shift for various reasons throughout life regardless of whether or not you had braces. You should wear your retainers part time as long as you want your teeth to stay straight.

Dovid Friedman, DMD
We have found that 12 hours a day at the start works best. If your teeth tend to be pretty stable we move to just night time wear....indefinitely. You only have to wear retainers on the teeth you want to keep straight. It is what I do myself as do everyone in our own family. It’s easy and works great if you wear them most nights sleeping. Good luck. Dr R
Your teeth move throughout life. More if you clench or grind your teeth. Wear your retainers for as long as you want your teeth to remain straight. You will need to replace retainers from time to time, unless you have invisible retainers bonded behind your front teeth.
Every day you are alive your body changes slightly, and since your teeth are part of that body, they can and will change also. Normally, they change in very small increments, but that adds up over the course of time, and ultimately the alignment, and even the bite can change. The alignment can be preserved, but with retainers. The good news is that they can be kept straight, but like everything else in life, it requires maintenance.
Tooth stability varies greatly from patient to patient. Things like spacing between teeth, severe crowding, rotations are all very unstable after orthodontic correction...and must be held until the periodontal ligament is no longer stretched, and the bone has had a chance to 'catch up' to the new tooth position.
As a general rule, I prefer to use 'fixed' or 'bonded' retainers both upper AND lower until I know the teeth are reasonably stable before I can 'trust' a removable retainer! Teeth are VERY unstable after orthodontic correction, and they WANT to return to their original position! This is called relapse, and we do everything we can to prevent relapse!
To me, trying to rely on a removable retainer is VERY risky immediately post-ortho! Bad things happen with removables (compliance, breakage, lost, chewed up by the dog, etc)...and replacement retainers aren't cheap! This is why I prefer having the control in MY hands by bonding upper and lower retainers routinely...at least until things are more stable.