Is Your Retainer Past Its Expiry Date? Find Out How Long They Truly Last!

Invisible removable retainers

Retainers are introduced at the end of your teeth straightening plan. They ensure that your teeth stay in their newly acquired position.

After alignment, teeth naturally tend to go back to their original position unless they are ‘retained.’ Simple tasks like chewing can exert enough force to cause this relapse. Hence, retainers are mandatory to keep the teeth in their newly aligned position.

Types And Lifespans Of Retainers

The lifespan of retainers depends on factors like their type, material quality, wear and tear, oral hygiene habits, and physical stress placed on them.

The three main types of retainers are:
Hawley Retainer
Hawley Retainer

Hawley Retainers

These are made from a combination of metal wire and acrylic or plastic material. Hawley retainers can last anywhere from 5 to 6 years with proper care. These retainers are adjustable, which allows for minor corrections during their use.

Fixed Retainer

These are made of metal wires permanently bonded on the back of the teeth. Fixed retainers can last for many years and potentially even decades, depending on the level of care. They require regular maintenance and care to prevent issues such as plaque build-up.

Closeup of clear removable retainers
Closeup of clear removable retainers

Clear Retainers

Clear plastic retainers, such as those tailor-made at ALIGNER32, usually have a lifespan of about 6 months. Whereas they are less durable compared to Hawleys or permanent retainers, they come at a highly affordable price without compromising on effectiveness.

Removable clear retainers have become a popular choice among smile enthusiasts because of their discretion and convenience. They can be easily snapped on and off with ease which aids in maintaining oral hygiene without compromising your looks.

Retain your smile with ALIGNERCO for as low as $145

Signs That Your Clear Retainers Need Replacement

1- Shape Distortion

Anything that changes the shape of your retainers - be it on the first day (accidents happen) or after a year, will require you to change your retainer. If your retainer feels loose or too tight or if you notice a change in your bite, it's time to get a new retainer.

2- Color Change

If you’re guilty of drinking coffee or drinks other than water with your clear retainers on, they will stain. The heat from warm drinks can also deform the ultra-precise shape of your retainers. If your retainers change color or shape, get a replacement.

3- Cracks and Scratches

Custom retainers are designed with precision. When the structure of a retainer is damaged, it loses its integrity and can no longer maintain the position of your teeth effectively. Cracks and scratches can also trap more bacteria, leading to potential teeth and gum infections.

4- Been A While

Aligner32 Clear retainers should be changed after 6 months of regular use. Regardless of the brand you use, make sure you only wear your retainers on their expiry date.

5- Build Up

Plaque accumulation can compromise the effectiveness of your retainer and lead to germ and bacteria growth in your mouth. If your clear retainer has a build-up that can’t be cleaned with the deep-clean methods listed below, it's time to toss it out.

6- Neglect

Exposure to heat and improper care can cause irreversible damage to your retainers. Eating with your retainer on and forgetting to store them in their case will also lead to their deterioration.

Custom-made, clear retainers are built with precision, and if their shape is compromised, so is their accuracy. This will prevent them from holding your teeth in their correct positions. Look after your retainers right so they stay intact, last long, and hold your teeth well in their place.

How To Care For Your Retainers

  • Always store your retainers in their case.
  • Rinse your retainers before you put them on.
  • Wear your retainers on clean teeth preferably after brushing teeth.
  • Avoid exposing retainers to extreme hot and cold temperatures, which deforms their shape.
  • Don’t eat and drink with retainers on, except water.
  • Retainers must be cleaned daily for hygiene purposes.
  • Replace your retainers periodically.
  • Avoid cleaning your retainers with harsh chemicals.
  • Abrasive cleaning products will scratch your retainers, avoid them.

How To Clean Your Retainers Right

Everyday Cleaning

The go-to method for daily cleaning is a simple wash with plain water. This should be enough, but if you want to clean them thoroughly, brush them with some mil, unscented soap using a soft bristle toothbrush and rinse them with tap water.

Deep Cleaning

A more detailed cleaning is required if you notice some plaque buildup, food deposits, or staining, or if you detect some odor coming from your retainers. Here are two foolproof methods to get your retainers squeaky clean.

  • Denture Cleaner

    Soak your retainers in a denture-cleaning solution according to the instructions provided by your brand. You may follow up with some mild brushing. This should dissolve the deposits and clean your retainers like new ones.

  • Mouthwash

    If you notice an unusual smell from your retainers, use this soaking method to leave them smelling fresh and clean. Mix equal parts mouthwash and water in a glass, enough to submerge your retainer, and soak them in this solution for 15 to 20 minutes. If you find frequent odor from your retainers, look into its underlying causes and solutions.

  • Baking Soda and Vinegar Paste

    Combine a tablespoon of baking soda with a tablespoon of vinegar to make a paste. Use this paste to clean your retainer with the help of a soft bristle toothbrush. You can also leave the paste on for several minutes to work on your retainers before rinsing it off with tap water.

If you don’t want your hard-earned smile going back to its pre-treatment phase, look after your retainers right, have an extra pair at hand, and keep up with your oral hygiene practices.

Buy ALIGNER32’s at-home straightening plan and get a free set of retainers.


1. Can I get clear retainers if I have had braces?

Yes, you can opt for ALIGNER32 Clear Retainers even after metal braces.

2. How can I clean my clear retainers?

Use warm water and a soft bristle toothbrush to clean your retainers daily

3. How many retainers should I have?

We recommend having a year's worth of supply (8 sets), it costs less to buy in bulk and secures your smile for a long time.

4. What should I do if I lose my retainers?

If you’re an Aligner32 customer, we probably have your teeth impressions with us. Confirm with our customer care and place an order accordingly.

5. Which retainer is best to straighten teeth?

Retainers don’t straighten teeth, aligners and braces do. Retainers come towards the end of a straightening plan to help retain teeth in their new position.

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