How Long Do Retainers Last - Really?

clear retainers.

Orthodontic treatments include retainers as an integral part of post-care. They are known to be an effective orthodontic device that helps to ensure the treatment is well retained. Your orthodontist will best guide you regarding retainers and their effective results according to your case. In this blog, we will delve into the complete understanding of retainers and how long retainers last.

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Understanding Retainers

Have you just achieved the smile of your dreams? If yes, then, you must want to retain your smile. When it comes to orthodontic treatments, braces, and clear aligners play a key role. However, orthodontic patients need to understand the importance of post-care. Post-care for any of the orthodontic treatments begins with retainers. They are the orthodontic devices that help teeth stay in the newly shifted place. They prevent your teeth from any relapses as after your smile journey, there is still a chance that your teeth might shift back to their original places. Retainers are of different types and depending on your case, and personal preference your orthodontist will provide you with one.

Retainers Lifespan

The lifespan of retainers depends on the type of retainers. However, the maintenance and handling of retainers majorly contribute to the longevity of retainers.

Types of Retainers

Different types of retainers are available for orthodontic patients looking forward to retaining their newly transformed teeth. The types of retainers are well-explained below.

Hawley Retainers

These types of retainers are composed of acrylic bases and metal wires that are wrapped around the teeth. They are available in different colors and can be customized according to each patient’s personal needs. Hawley retainers are said to last on average for two to five years. However, the stability and effectiveness of retainers also depend on their usage and maintenance.

Essix Retainers

Essix retainers also known as clear retainers are made of plastic and worn over teeth. They do not contain any such external objects and are easy to wear. They are barely visible and patients can wear them even during an event. However, as compared to Hawley retainers they are more prone to get damaged. The average span for Essix retainers lies between one to three years. Further, it also depends on each patient’s usage.

Fixed Retainers

Fixed retainers are recommended for orthodontic patients undergoing severe and extensive treatment. The retainers are placed on the back of the top, bottom, or both arches to prevent teeth from shifting back to their original place. This type of retainer provides additional support to your teeth and jaws.

Factors Affecting Retainers

The following are some of the factors that affect the longevity of retainers.

Type of Retainer

The longevity of the retainers depends on the type of retainer you use. If you have removable retainers they usually require replacement every one or two years. Whereas, permanent retainers last longer than usual which means up to several years.

Handling and Maintenance

The longevity of retainers majorly depends on the handling and care. Orthodontic patients who maintain their retainers by cleaning them properly to avoid scratches and storing them in a container when not using can make them last longer. However, if you do not clean and handle retainers well enough there are high chances that your retainers can be damaged. Moreover, even when not stored properly, chances are that you break or lose your retainers impacting their longevity.


After you have concluded your clear aligner treatment, retainers are essential post-care. Orthodontic patients must adhere to the wear time to get optimal results. However, wearing your retainers long enough minimizes the chances of losing them or causing any damage.

Tips for Retainer Maintenance

Retainers help retain your teeth in their new places. To ensure that your retainers are effective and have optimal results you must ensure that your retainers stay intact. You can follow some of the simple tips to ensure retainers are well-maintained and work effectively.


Retainers require maintenance like you should clean them on regular basis. If you have removable retainers, you must rinse them with water or clear them with a soft-bristled brush before wearing them every time. Proper cleaning of retainers will ensure the longevity of retainers and keep them intact for effective results.


When you are removing or re-inserting your retainers, make sure not to use force. Moreover, with fixed retainers, you must keep a check while eating, as hard foods may damage the wire in any way. Additionally, if you have removable retainers, ensure to put them in a container when not in use.


You can reach out to your orthodontist for frequent follow-ups. They will ensure that your retainers are well-bonded to sustain your teeth. In the case of removable retainers, your orthodontist will ensure that they do not contain any such scratches that may hinder results.

To learn more about retainers or a smile transformation call us at (888) 861-1884

To conclude, retainers are an integral part of an orthodontic treatment. Their purpose is to sustain your dream smile that you have achieved either with braces or a clear aligner treatment. There are different types of retainers and each type has its pros and cons. The durability of each type is different. Lastly, to ensure effective results and longevity of retainers follow the simple tips mentioned in this blog.


1. What is the purpose of retainers?

After concluding an orthodontic treatment, there is a chance that your teeth might shift back to their original place. Retainers are orthodontic devices that help retain your teeth in their newly shifted place.

2. How long should I wear my retainers?

The duration for wearing retainers depends on each case and your orthodontist can best suggest regarding that. However, initially, you might have to wear them 22 hours per day to night time only.

3. Are retainers an essential part of orthodontic treatment?

Yes, retainers are considered as an essential part of the orthodontic treatment. They help to keep your teeth in their new place.

4.How long do retainers last?

The longevity of retainers depends on the type of retainers, their handling, and maintenance.

5. How maintain retainers for longer usage?

Ensure to wear them as prescribed and maintain them well by storing them in their container and cleaning them with care.

  • Mei Lin

    Mei Lin

    Content Contributor

    Renowned as an orthodontic trailblazer, Mei Lin is a distinguished expert contributing her expertise to ALIGNER32. With a career dedicated to advancing orthodontic solutions, Lin's blogs explore the unique nuances of teeth alignment. As a trusted authority, she sheds light on how ALIGNER32 aligners cater to diverse dental needs, making... Read More

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  • Dr. Harshil Patel

    Dr. Harshil Patel

    Medical Reviewer

    Dr. Patel has practiced in various dental clinical settings and has an extensive amount of experience in multiple phases of general dentistry in the Houston, TX area. He has a holistic approach to patient care and tries to be an approachable and compassionate dentist, all while providing high-quality and ethical... Read More

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