How to wear retainers

How to Wear Retainers: Wear & Care Instructions for Clear Retainers

By  Dr. Tyler Coles – Premier Orthodontics

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So, why do you need to know how to wear retainers?

Given a chance, your teeth will start to shift after your braces are removed or after you complete your Invisalign treatment. The only way to guarantee a perfect smile is to wear your retainers.

Retainers will only work if you wear them — and that’s why we’re going to outline exactly how to wear retainers. Along the way, we’ll make sure that no question goes unanswered.

For video instructions on how to wear retainers, watch below.

How to Wear Retainers: Inserting and Removing Your Clear Retainer

Inserting Clear Retainers

When inserting, start by gently pushing the retainer over your front teeth. Then apply pressure, using your fingertips, to the tops of your left and right molars (back teeth) until you feel the retainer snap into place.

Clear retainer insertions

It may be tempting to bite your retainer into position, but try to avoid this. Biting down on the retainer can cause damage and lessen its long-term effectiveness.

Removing Clear Retainers

On one side of your mouth (whether you start on the left or right side is up to you), use your fingertip on the inside of your back molar to slowly pull the clear retainer from your molars.

Removing clear retainers on right molar

Repeat this process on the other side of your mouth.

Removing clear retainer from right molar

Once the clear retainer is disengaged from the molars on both sides of your mouth, slowly work its way forward by gently prying the retainer away from your teeth with your fingertips.

If you are having trouble with this step, make sure the retainer is fully disengaged.

Clear retainer removal from the front teeth

Once you remove your retainer it’s a good idea to rinse it with water, shake off any excess droplets, and store in your retainer case.


Before placing your retainer back into your mouth, we recommend cleaning your retainers.  For in-depth information on how to clear your clear retainer check out our blog post here: How to Clean Retainers – Three Unique Ways

How to Wear Retainers: How Often Should I Wear My Clear Retainer?

The total amount of time you wear a retainer will depend on how your teeth started out, as well as what your individual needs are. Your orthodontist will provide  specific instructions for your situation.

As a general rule, we recommend that most of our patients wear their clear retainer for 20-22 hours per day for the first 2 months following braces removal.  Yes, this means wearing it day and night, and only removing it to eat and to brush your teeth.  

After about two months, patients can switch to wearing their retainers at night time only.  

We recommend patients continue to wear their clear retainers every night indefinitely (or as long as you want your teeth to stay straight).

How Do I Store My Clear Retainer?

When your clear retainer is not in your mouth, it should be in your retainer case. That is truly the best place for it to be.

Clear retainer case

When retainers are left out of the case, bad things can happen. Here are just a few potential things that could happen…

  • The family dog chews it up.
  • It’s wrapped in a napkin and thrown into the garbage by a helpful waiter at a restaurant.
  • It falls on the floor and gets stepped on.
  • It gets lost or misplaced.

…all of these situations end the same way – you can no longer wear your retainer and have to get a new one. 

Here’s a saying to help you remember where your retainer should be at all times:  “It’s in your face or in your case”. If you can follow these instructions, you shouldn’t have any problem keeping your clear retainer safe.

When Should I Replace My Retainer?

Retainers are similar to eyeglasses.  For some, a single pair of eyeglasses can last for years.  Others may have to replace their glasses every 6 months. One thing is for sure – one retainer won’t last you your whole life.

Here are some reasons why someone might need to replace a retainer:

  • If you grind or clench your teeth at night and wear them out.
  • If you lose or break your retainer.
  • If you stop wearing your retainer and your teeth shift.


If any of the above happens, you will need to replace your retainer.

Broken clear retainer

For most people, a single set of retainers will last them 2-5 years. Plan on replacing your retainer periodically.  Your orthodontist may have an option to pre-purchase multiple sets of retainers so you can have plenty of replacement clear retainers ready to use at a moment’s notice.

We hope this article has given you a better understanding of how to wear retainers. By following the advice listed above….

…there’s no reason you can’t keep your teeth straight for the rest of your life!

Braces in Phoenix, Chandler, Maricopa, Anthem, and Casa Grande

Premier Orthodontics has 7 locations  providing braces and Invisalign in Phoenix, Chandler, Gilbert, Maricopa, Casa Grande, Glendale, and Anthem/Carefree as well as the surrounding areas. 

Schedule your free consultation for braces or read our comprehensive guide to the cost of braces . (We are very transparent about our process and our pricing, as you’ll see in this guide.

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Whether you’re thinking about braces for kidsbraces for an adult, or even Invisalign, we’ve got you covered!

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