Permanent Retainers: How Long Will You Need One? - Hardy Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics

Permanent Retainers: How Long Will You Need One?

What’s New with Orthodontic Technology?
January 20, 2018
Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
February 1, 2018

beautiful smile

Although there’s no specific time period for wearing a permanent retainer, it isn’t entirely “permanent.” Some patients have been known to wear the device for up to 20 years, while others only have theirs for a few. The fact remains that teeth are prone to drift as time passes so retainers ensure that you keep your smile straight and entact. Dr. Hardy can consult with you on your options for retaining your optimal smile. Learn more about permanent retainers and what signs to watch for that one needs to be replaced.


Orthodontic Care and Permanent Retainers

You’ve had braces for 18-24 months. Now what? You want to keep that beautiful, straight smile perfect for all the years to come! You can do that with removable retainers or permanent retainers. A retainer “retains” your straight smile so that orthodontic care is not needed again. The type of retainer you choose depends on your needs. Your teeth will attempt to return to their original position immediately after treatment instead of staying straight. We combat this with a retainer as soon as your braces come off, and you’ll have to commit to wearing your retainer every day.


Your teeth not only move when young, but they naturally drift as you age. As you get older, the teeth will start to become crooked because the width of our smiles get narrower, causing crowding. However, a retainer can prevent this. Put your removable retainer in every night to prevent shifting. With permanent retainers, we advise patients to keep them all throughout their teens and early twenties, as the jaw continues to grow during this time.


types of retainers

Wearing Permanent Retainers

You only wear braces for 1-2 years. However, permanent retainers stay put for years, sometimes even decades. Some people have even been able to wear their permanent retainers for up to 20 years. Studies have shown that in the majority of cases, there were no adverse long-term effects of patients wearing permanent retainers. Patients lose their retainers less and don’t have to worry about tooth injury during sports or maintaining their straight smile, as the retainer is attached inside the mouth.


However, your permanent retainer will age, so you should either have it changed or removed one or more times during your life. An orthodontist can advise you about your retainer and if it has been worn long enough or if it’s too soon to remove it. If your permanent retainer ages, it might simply come off. However, this is nothing that a quick visit to our office can’t fix. Basically, permanent retainers are a great way to effortlessly keep your smile intact without having to think about it. The better you take care of your retainer, the longer it will last.



Because permanent retainers stay put in your mouth, they don’t require as much maintenance as removable retainers do. You have to take out a removable retainer, brush and clean it each day. You have to also make sure to store your removable retainer in the same place (its case) to avoid losing it. Although, you still need to brush a permanent retainer, it’s only a fixed wire you have to keep clean instead of an entire removable device.

  • Use a floss threader. A floss threader is needed to floss underneath your fixed wire. This will require a little more effort but will protect your teeth while using a very effective retaining device.
  • Use a waterpik. A waterpik can help you to keep your teeth clean not only with braces, but also with the fixed retainer. Waterpiks can dislodge food that has become stuck under the wire and can be used everyday. Sometimes extra cleanings at your dentist may be recommended to keep the area clean if brushing and flossing still leave stuck food.
  • Avoid biting hard things. Fixed retainers are very strong, but they can break. Be careful with using the front teeth to bite into hard things like nuts and carrots.
  • Practice good oral hygiene. If maintaining good oral hygiene becomes too cumbersome for you with our fixed retainer, we will recommend a removable one.
  • Take care of your retainer. As a courtesy, Dr. Hardy will cover any breakage of the fixed retainer for the first year. After this, you will be responsible for the costs for repair/or replacement retainers.

Your Teeth as You Age

Depending on your age, your teeth will have different growing and moving patterns. An infant is born without any teeth and will begin to have them erupt between 6 and 12 months. A child can keep getting their teeth up until age 3, just to have them start falling out between ages 6 and 8. 20 baby teeth fill a child’s mouth with small spaces in between those teeth. When they begin to fall out, 32 adult teeth will take their place. These teeth will be larger and will take up more space, and will fit snug with one another.


People generally have all of their adult teeth before their teenage years are over. Children receive orthodontic treatment via braces between ages 7 and 10 to correct bite and alignment problems. Teenagers receive braces to correct a crooked smile. After this orthodontic treatment, we provide our patients with their permanent or removable retainer. If used properly, the teeth should remain straight for many decades. A person can actually live all the rest of their life with straight teeth if they follow the simple guidelines to wearing removable or permanent retainers.