Make a Habit Out of Wearing Your Retainer for a Lifetime

Orthodontic treatment can transform a smile by aligning teeth into their ideal position, but after braces or other orthodontic devices have done their job, teeth have a natural tendency to shift back to their original position. This is where retainers come in. They are custom-made devices, usually made of wires or clear plastic, that hold teeth in place after orthodontic treatment. Wearing a retainer is essential for maintaining the alignment of your teeth and ensuring that the time, effort, and resources invested in orthodontic treatment are not lost.

The wearing schedule for retainers is often intensive at first. Typically, retainers are worn full time (day and night except while eating) for the first eight months following the completion of orthodontic treatment. This rigorous initial phase is critical for stabilizing the new position of your teeth. After this period, the usage often transitions to night time only.  This is a critical period for forming a long-term routine to ensure that your teeth remain in their new, correct alignment.


The idea of wearing an orthodontic retainer for the rest of your life can initially seem daunting. However, integrating retainer use into your established oral hygiene routine – the habitual practice of brushing and flossing – can make this commitment not only manageable, but almost second nature.


The key to adapting to lifetime retainer wear lies in associating it with the already ingrained habits of brushing and flossing. Most of us are well aware that we have to brush our teeth after eating or at least twice a day and floss regularly; it’s a deeply embedded part of our daily routine. By aligning retainer wear with these practices, the retainer becomes just another step in your dental care regimen, rather than an additional chore.


When retainer wear is integrated into your daily brushing and flossing routine, it’s less likely you’ll forget to wear it. Just as skipping brushing your teeth feels off, so too will neglecting to wear your retainer. This habitual practice ensures a comprehensive approach to oral hygiene. Brushing your teeth and brushing your retainer go hand-in-hand in maintaining both dental health and orthodontic results.

Routine provides comfort. When retainer wear becomes habitual, it no longer feels like a burden but rather a part of your normal self-care practices.


Tips for an Easier Transition

– Reminder Notes: In the early stages, leaving reminder notes in the bathroom or setting an alarm on your phone can help establish the new habit.

– Retainer Case:  Always keep your retainer case next to your toothbrush. This visual cue serves as a reminder to wear your retainer.

– Associate Positively: Remind yourself of the benefits – a lifelong straight smile – each time you wear your retainer. Positive associations can make the process more enjoyable.

What initially might seem like a dreaded notion – wearing a retainer every night for life – can actually become a seamless, almost unconscious, part of your daily routine. By linking retainer wear with the habitual practices of brushing and flossing, it becomes less about remembering to wear a retainer and more about completing your comprehensive oral health routine. Over time, this routine ensures that the smile you worked hard to achieve remains as perfect as the day your braces came off.