The Truth About Retainers:

Do I Really Need to Wear My Retainers for Life?

The answer is YES! The only way to ensure that your teeth stay straight following orthodontic treatment is to wear your retainers for life. This is because, just like any other part of our body, as we age, things change over time and our teeth are no different. They have a tendency to want to move if there isn’t something there to hold them in place. This is why wearing your retainer for life is so important to protect your investment!

Now you may be wondering, do I really need to wear my retainers 24/7 for the rest of my life? And the answer is no in most cases. Typically, we recommend wearing retainers full time for the first year following orthodontic treatment, then after a year, you can simply switch to night time wear.

Types of Retainers

Another question we frequently get is why are there different types of retainers and which one is best for me?

There are many different types of retainers but the three most popular are: Clear Retainers, Hawley Retainers (which are the "old fashioned" type of retainer with a metal bar in front), or fixed retainers which are essentially a metal bar glued behind your front teeth to keep them from moving.

Depending on your individual case, you may need a specific retainer. It’s important to discuss with your orthodontist which type of retainer is best for you since each option has different pros and cons.

At Happier Smiles Orthodontics, we prefer the Clear Retainers since they are very comfortable, esthetic, and do not cause many issues from our personal experience. This is why one set of clear retainers is included for each patient with treatment.

Personal Experience with Retainers

From my personal experience, I have had all three types of retainers at some point. When I was younger and had my braces taken off, I had both a fixed retainer and Hawley retainer. I didn’t like the esthetics of the metal bar for the Hawley retainer, and my fixed retainer ended up breaking after a while and my teeth started to move. Because my teeth shifted, I ended up having to do Clear Aligner treatment to correct my smile, and I now have Clear Retainers which I love!

I have found that my Clear Retainers have been my favorite since they are both comfortable and esthetic. That being said, retainers don’t last forever and will need to be repaired or replaced over time so it is important to maintain a relationship with your orthodontist to protect your smile!

Lifetime Retainers Program

If you happen to lose or break your retainer, our office has a "Retainers for Life" program available. When a new retainer is needed, whether it’s lost, broken, or if you simply wish for a new set, just call our office, and we’ll make you a brand new retainer – it’s that easy!

Ask us about our lifetime retainer program at your first visit to learn more. Patients can join at any time, though we offer a discount for those that sign up at the beginning of treatment.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions either via text through our website or by emailing

Dr. Neelab Anwar (“Dr. Nee”) is a Board Certified Orthodontist and the founder of Happier Smiles Orthodontics in San Marcos, California.
Learn more about Dr. Nee

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