Retainers are prescribed to protect the results of orthodontic treatment. The longevity of your retainers depends largely on the type that you opt for. The two main types of retainers are removable acrylic ones and fixed permanent ones. The lifespan of each depends on how well you take care of your mouth and the retainer. Both types of retainers can potentially last for years if you routinely clean and avoid damaging them. On average, removable retainers tend to last for about 5-10 years, while permanent retainers can potentially last for decades.
The lifespan of retainers also depends on the following factors:
- The amount of stress. The metal wire is put under pressure while chewing.
- Your dentist’s precision while fitting the retainers also influences how well they will stay in place and how easy it will be for you to floss and clean your teeth properly.
- Some people have their fixed retainers for several years, while others find that they only lasted a few months.
What are the different types of retainers?
The type of retainer prescribed will depend on the type of braces you wore earlier, your individual needs, and your lifestyle. The three most common types of retainers are:
Removable Hawley wire retainers
- Lasts for a long time
- Can be tightened or repaired
- Allow the bite to "settle" into a more comfortable position over time
- Can be custom designed with many colors, logos, etc.
- Do not cover the biting surface of the teeth, so they don’t protect against grinding
- Allow slight movement of the teeth
- Are more expensive to replace
- More noticeable visually as the metal wire can be seen
- Bulky coverage of the palate is bothersome to some patients
- Can be lost or broken
Removable clear plastic retainers
- Hold the teeth in the exact position they were moved to
- Protect the teeth against wear from grinding
- Almost invisible
- Are less expensive to replace than other retainer options
- If slight movement occurs, wearing them full time can help move the teeth back into the proper position
- Don't last as long as the other retainers
- Are easy to lose because they are so clear
Bonded permanent retainers
- Can last for many years if properly maintained
- Can't be lost as they are permanently glued in
- Are much more difficult to clean, brush, and floss
- You must be mindful about not eating things that are too hard
How to care for your orthodontic retainer?
Here are some tips for caring for your retainers:
- Brush and floss around your fixed retainer. The wire can accumulate food and plaque just like braces, so oral hygiene is important. You will also want to keep up with your regular dental appointments, so your dentist can ensure the area is clean and cavity-free.
- Always keep your removable retainer in its case when you are not wearing it. Never place it on a napkin or tissue because it can get thrown away.
- Pets love retainers, so it is best to store them in their case when you take them out to brush and floss. The last thing you want is your dog damaging it.
- Remove your retainer before eating and drinking anything aside from plain water. It is especially important to take it out even if you’re just taking a sip of a drink. The liquid and sugars can get stuck between your teeth and your retainer, which will increase your risk of tooth decay.
- As for how to clean your retainer, gently brush it with a soft-bristled toothbrush and some nonabrasive toothpaste whenever you brush your teeth. This will get rid of plaque and any food debris. For deeper cleaning, you can also occasionally use a retainer cleaner and let it soak. This will prevent it from smelling and get rid of any build-up.
- Don’t store clear retainers in hot vehicles or drink hot drinks with them in your mouth. The heat can warp the retainer, which will affect the fit and could potentially result in your teeth shifting.
- If you lose a retainer, call the doctor’s office right away to have it replaced. Not wearing your retainer even for a few nights, will result in your teeth shifting. It is important to get a new one to maintain your smile.
The easiest way to ensure your smile stays straight is to think ahead and always have a spare set on hand, especially when you are not using permanent retainers.
- CDC Warns of Potentially Fatal Bacterial Illness on U.S. Gulf Coast
- Helping Others as Volunteers Helps Kids 'Flourish': Study
- FDA Approves Pfizer's RSV Shot for Older Adults
- What to Do When Tough-to-Treat Lymphoma Strikes During Pregnancy
- Rate of Pregnant U.S. Women Who Have Diabetes Keeps Rising
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top How Long Do Retainers Last? Related Articles
Treatment for Whiter Teeth and a Brighter SmileWant brighter, whiter teeth? Brushing up on these photo tips can help keep your teeth white. Discover which smile-whitening ideas will make your teeth shine their brightest and how to avoid future stains.
Caring for Teeth With Braces or RetainersPeople who have braces or retainers must take special care when cleaning their teeth. They must floss and brush regularly and avoid eating hard and chewy foods. It's important to wear a mouth guard when playing sports to avoid dental injuries.
Common Medical Abbreviations & Terms
Doctors, pharmacists, and other health-care professionals use abbreviations, acronyms, and other terminology for instructions and information in regard to a patient's health condition, prescription drugs they are to take, or medical procedures that have been ordered. There is no approved this list of common medical abbreviations, acronyms, and terminology used by doctors and other health- care professionals. You can use this list of medical abbreviations and acronyms written by our doctors the next time you can't understand what is on your prescription package, blood test results, or medical procedure orders. Examples include:
- ANED: Alive no evidence of disease. The patient arrived in the ER alive with no evidence of disease.
- ARF: Acute renal (kidney) failure
- cap: Capsule.
- CPAP: Continuous positive airway pressure. A treatment for sleep apnea.
- DJD: Degenerative joint disease. Another term for osteoarthritis.
- DM: Diabetes mellitus. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- HA: Headache
- IBD: Inflammatory bowel disease. A name for two disorders of the gastrointestinal (BI) tract, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
- JT: Joint
- N/V: Nausea or vomiting.
- p.o.: By mouth. From the Latin terminology per os.
- q.i.d.: Four times daily. As in taking a medicine four times daily.
- RA: Rheumatoid arthritis
- SOB: Shortness of breath.
- T: Temperature. Temperature is recorded as part of the physical examination. It is one of the "vital signs."
Braces (Dental)Find out more about how orthodontic braces and retainers can provide proper alignment to crooked teeth. Get information about the cost of braces, the different types of braces, and the procedure for fitting a patient with braces.
Orthodontics (Braces) PictureBraces can correct crooked teeth or a misaligned bite, and can improve the health and appearance of anyone's smile, adult or child. See a picture of Orthodontics (Braces) and learn more about the health topic.