How Often Should You Have Your Retainer Replaced?

October 6, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — jessicacohen1 @ 12:54 am

We weren’t all fortunate enough to develop a naturally straight smile. The good news is that with modern dental technology, you don’t have to settle for misalignment. By seeing an orthodontist, you can work toward the straighter smile that you’ve always dreamed of. When your treatment is complete, you will need to wear a retainer to keep your teeth in their proper places. Continue reading to learn more about retainers and how long they last.

How Long Does a Retainer Need to Be Worn?

The number of hours you need to wear your retainer depends on your treatment. However, patients are usually asked to wear their retainer between 10 and 22 hours each day for the first few months. After this milestone, it’s recommended that patients wear their retainer while sleeping each night for at least one year. After this, your orthodontist may suggest wearing your retainer for a few nights a week to prevent future movement. Ultimately, if you don’t want your teeth to shift, a retainer is a lifetime commitment.

4 Signs that You May Need a New Retainer

While you should continue to wear your retainer to maintain your results, it doesn’t last forever. It will eventually need to be replaced. After about a year, the materials may start to become worn and break down. Here are some signs that you may want to see your orthodontist about a replacement retainer:


If you notice that there are cracks in the plastic of your retainer, you should contact your orthodontist to get a replacement. These cracks will grow over time and the retainer won’t have the strength to keep your teeth in place.


If your retainer is starting to feel loose, it’s time for a replacement. Over time, retainers wear down and become wider. When this happens, it will no longer keep your teeth in place.


Another common problem is that retainers can slowly lose their shape over time. This can happen quickly if you clean them in the dishwasher or very hot water. If you haven’t worn your retainer for a while, and then it’s tight when you put it on again, this doesn’t mean the retainer is bad. It is a sign that you should be wearing it more often.

Calcium Buildup

If you notice calcium buildup on your retainer, it may be time for a replacement. Contact your orthodontist.

Wearing your retainer is important for maintaining the results of your orthodontic treatment. If you think you’re in need of a new one, contact your orthodontist. This way, you can continue to show off your aligned smile!

About the Author

Dr. Jessica Cohen is a Board-Certified Orthodontist. She received her Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from Case Western Reserve University where she graduated with high honors. Currently. Dr. Cohen is a proud member of the Chicago Dental Society, the Illinois Society of Orthodontists, the American Dental Association, and the American Association of Orthodontists. For more information on retainers or to schedule an appointment at her office in Highland Park, visit her website or call (224) 427-6800.

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