Sometimes your orthodontics may recommend you wear a retainer after completing the bracing or Invisalign treatment. The doctor will suggest you wear retainers to ensure your newly positioned teeth get adequate support not to move back to their previous position. But, how long do you have to wear a retainer depends on the severity of your orthodontic issue. In case of a serious one, they might suggest a permanent retainer for you. Otherwise, wearing a removable retainer will work.

However, there are different types of retainers available, and the working period may vary for each. So yes, every retainer has its advantages and disadvantages, and the duration of wearing is also not the same. That’s why we’ve prepared this guide for you so that you know which retainer takes how much time to do its job. This will help you in choosing the best-suited one for yourself. To learn ‘how long do you have to wear a retainer’ in the section below.

Types of retainers:

As mentioned, there are 3 different types of retainers. Each of them is unique in terms of the purpose of use and material. Have a look:

How long do you have to wear a retainer?

If your orthodontist recommends you to wear a clear retainer, then you may use it for a lifetime period. However, a clear retainer is considered a cost-effective and health-effective one. Still, you must consult your dentist to know how long you will need to wear the retainer. In most cases, dentists recommend wearing it just for two months. The orthodontics will provide you with complete guidance on wearing and maintaining it. The proper maintenance will help you to expand the longevity of the retainer.

How long does a clear retainer last?

Clear retainer material: Plastic or polyurethane.

If you properly care about your retainer, then it will last for many years. On the other hand, if you do not maintain proper care, then it will last for just about six months. The clear retainer may be worn down in the biting surface of your teeth. If you tend to clench or grind during the night, then you will require a frequent replacement of the retainer. Since these are made of clear plastic, clear retainers are prone to stain, which eventually decreases the lifetime. 

How long can you wear a Hawley retainer?

You can wear a Hawley retainer for the first couple of months after your orthodontist treatment. You can also wear it all through the day and night for a rapid and effective result.

How long does a Hawley retainer last?

Hawley retainer material: Plastic or acrylic, along with the metal wire.

A Hawley retainer can last over the years. According to some users, it can last for about 10 to 20 years. If you are wearing a Hawley retainer for a long period, you may find that the wires of the retainer are getting fatigued and breaking off. Sometimes, the acrylic of the retainer might break eventually. If so, then you will need to replace it. 

How long can you wear a permanent retainer?

The permanent retainer is perfect dental equipment to use for a longer period. The longevity of the permanent retainer depends on your hygiene maintenance habit. If you maintain all the hygienic factors properly, then you can avoid gum issues and cavities. But it is difficult to maintain oral hygiene while having a permanent retainer. Due to this reason, most people prefer to avoid a permanent retainer.

However, if you are dealing with a problem with your permanent retainer, then you can replace it with a removable one. But, if you did not wear any retainer, then it will shift your teeth into their previous position.

How long does a permanent retainer last?

Permanent retainer material- metal wire: usually nickel, titanium, copper, or a combination.

A permanent retainer can last over several years. However, as we have mentioned before, the longevity of a permanent retainer depends on its maintenance. Sometimes, the longevity of the permanent retainer depends on the user’s bite. If you tend to bite the same area, then there will be a high possibility of breakage. However, orthodontics can support you in repairing your broken permanent retainer.

Is it safe to use a retainer for a long time?

The answer is yes, it is safe. You can use a retainer for a lifetime period. After using a retainer for over a year, you will become habituated to wearing it all day. But, you need to take care of the maintenance properly to avoid any further damage to your teeth.


In short, how long you have to wear a retainer depends on your orthodontic issue. If you have a major issue, you must use it for life, but you can use a removable one if you have a minor. In most cases, it takes a lifelong period to keep your teeth in their actual position because retainer only works when you wear it consistently. As a concluding word, we can say you must maintain a lifelong habit of proper oral hygiene.


Published by Dr. Daniel Bronsky

Dr. Daniel is an orthodontist at Invis London.

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