Q. For how long do I wear my retainer?

Answered by
Dr. Mayank Khandelwal
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on May 19, 2022

Hello doctor,

I have been wearing a plastic retainer each night for roughly ten years. I worry about the long-term health effects of plastics leaching chemicals and microplastics. I wonder if a removable silver or gold grill would do a similar job as a plastic retainer without the potential exposure to harmful chemicals and leaching. What is the difference between a plastic retainer and a gold or silver grill that is made to fit the current position of my teeth and worn every night? Please help me accordingly.

Thank you.



Welcome to

Greetings of the day. I hope you are doing well. Wearing the same plastic retainer for ten years is a long time. You are spot on with your concern regarding the effects of retainers. All your worries regarding the leaching of chemicals and degradation of materials are valid and have been scientifically proven. I suggest you to stop using the current retainer immediately.

I would like to give out a few details before proceeding with your other query.

Retainers are given to hold on to the corrections achieved by orthodontic treatment even after their completion. The first year after treatment is critical as teeth, and surrounding tissues are still fresh in their new positions and have not matured. It takes about one year for the process, and hence, the minimum duration for retainer wear is one year, followed by which the wear schedule is reduced gradually and then stopped. We might need permanent retainer assistance to maintain the changes in some cases. But those also can be removed after ten to twelve years. I do not think any significant changes would occur to your dentition after ten years of the retention period. You can manage without nighttime retainer wear.

Regarding the second part of your query, the basic difference is the material used, color, and economic factors regarding the other type of retainers. Both have the same purpose, and no other difference is there. You can visit a dental surgeon for a check-up and opt for retainer wear termination. And I suggest you go ahead with the retainers (gold or silver grill). You can opt for that as well.

But I would suggest that retainers are not required after ten years of continuous wear. Still, opt for a clinical check-up and take your call.

Have a great day.

Thank you.

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