Kids girl taking retainers

Common Questions About Retainers

How long do I have to wear retainers?

The short answer…forever! After you finish treatment, we instruct you to wear your retainers full-time for 2 months, and then you can switch to wearing them nights only. But, as I mentioned before, it is VERY important that you wear them every night, forever.

What happens if I don’t wear my retainers?

Your teeth will shift back toward their original positions. NOOOO! Exactly what we don’t want after all our hard work to get them into the most beautiful, healthy, and stable positions.

Why do I have to wear them forever? Will teeth REALLY move 10 years from now?

Teeth are attached to the bone that holds them in place with elastic fibers (think: tons of little tiny rubber bands).   When we move teeth, these elastic fibers get stretched. They want to make your teeth snap back like when you let go of a stretched rubber band!

As time goes on, the elastic fibers become more limp (so your teeth won’t move back as quickly), but never go completely limp. Teeth move back extremely slowly – it’s kind of like watching grass grow.  The problem is, it’s a bad day when a person wakes up 2 years, 5 years, or 10 years after not wearing their retainers as prescribed, looks in the mirror, and thinks “Oh my gosh! My teeth have shifted! This is TERRIBLE!!!”

After 2 months, when I switch to nights only, will my retainers be tight?

They can be. It’s due to biology. If retainers are tight at first, that means your teeth have moved since you last took them out. The good news is, that wearing the retainers will move them back into the proper positions, but we want to limit the amount of this back-and-forth shifting. Some people’s teeth stay in place more quickly and reliably than others.

Two months is the interval that works for the vast majority of people to be able to switch comfortably to nights only. If you try this, and your retainers are tight every time you put them in, wear them full-time for an additional month. In this case, it’s just taking your teeth a little longer to get comfortable than it normally does. No damage will ever be done by over-wearing your retainers, so never hesitate to do this if it is more comfortable for you.

What if I lose my retainer, my dog eats it, or it melts in the sun?

Hopefully, none of these happens. Your retainers are far more than just pieces of plastic. They are the keys to retaining the beautiful smile that we create during your treatment! Please treat them this way!

That being said, we know that unfortunate events take place, people make mistakes…life happens. With this in mind, we created the Leland Smile for Life program, which EVERY patient of our practice (both past and present) automatically receives!

We expect you to wear your retainers for life, and to put our money where our mouth is, we will provide you retainers for life, at no additional cost. We know orthodontics is a big investment of effort, time, and money. We are just as committed as you are to helping you keep your smile looking beautiful forever.