When you first get your braces off or finish your clear aligner treatment, your orthodontist will provide instructions for retainer wear. For the first few months, most patients will wear their removable retainers full-time, day and night, removing only for meals and drinking, and to brush their teeth and clean the retainers. In certain cases, the orthodontists may instruct you to wear retainers only at night and to switch to full-time wear if you notice some shifting.
Some minor shifting of your teeth is normal after orthodontic treatment: this is called dental settling. Even with proper retainer wear, there will still be minor shifting as the teeth settle into their permanent positions. If the retainer is fitting well, you don't need to worry about this minor shifting.
When you reduce the time of wearing your retainers to nightly use, you'll store your retainer safely in a case for the day, and then put the retainers in after brushing your teeth to sleep. Wear them all night long while you sleep, and wash them gently every morning before putting them back in the case.
How long a retainer lasts depends on which retainer type you have, as well as how well you care for the retainer. The Hawley retainer is a removable retainer made of metal wires and hard acrylic. This type of retainer is sturdy and durable and built to last for several years. Many patients find Hawley retainers to be more noticeable and less comfortable. than Clear plastic retainers: These retainers are generally worn as a set, with one on the top and one on the bottom rows of teeth. Clear retainers are comfortable and cost-effective to replace.