After the drama and excitement of finally getting your braces off, wearing a retainer can seem kind of like an afterthought. But actually, your retainer plays a big role in maintaining your beautiful results.
Orthodontics is all about aligning your teeth, and that includes your tooth roots. Your retainers maintain your teeth in their proper spots while your roots readjust and stabilize. (In fact, some opt to wear their retainers a night or two each week as added “insurance” even after treatment is complete.)
While your retainers are designed to be durable, they do require some care. As with your braces or aligners, there are a few things you can — and should — do to keep your retainers in good shape, including making sure they stay clean and fresh.
As a leading orthodontist in Cedar Park, Texas, Brendan Smith, DDS, MS, helps patients at Freedom Orthodontics maintain their retainers and their smiles with some simple tips aimed at helping them get the most from their treatment. Here’s what he says you can do to make sure your retainer is clean and cared for.
Why cleaning your retainer is so important
One of the most obvious reasons to keep your retainer clean is to keep your breath fresh. After all, over the course of a day, your retainer can become coated with plaque and food residue, just like your teeth. Regular brushing eliminates plaque film and food residue that could otherwise cause unpleasant and embarrassing odors.
Cleaning your retainer is also important for your oral health. Plaque film contains germs, including bacteria that can cause cavities and gum disease. Getting rid of that film is important for keeping your teeth and gums healthy, and it also prevents stains from forming.
Finally, regular cleaning helps your mouth feel fresher. Without regular cleaning, your retainer can develop a sour taste that leaves your whole mouth feeling unclean. Brushing your retainer ensures your whole mouth feels clean.
The right way to clean your retainer
Especially when you’re in a hurry, it can be tempting to simply rinse your retainer before popping it in your mouth. While rinsing is fine for a quick refresher, it’s no substitute for proper cleaning.
Just like your teeth, your retainer needs to be brushed with a toothbrush and toothpaste. While you can get away with a once-daily brushing, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of brushing your retainer when you brush your teeth — typically in the morning and at night before bed. Of course, if your retainer routine doesn’t include night wear, you can brush it only in the morning or before bed to keep it fresh.
To avoid scratching your retainer and to make sure you reach all the crevices in your device, use a soft-bristled brush and opt for a non-abrasive toothpaste. Brush in small, circular strokes to ensure every part of your retainer is clean and free of plaque.
Once your retainer is brushed, rinse it well in lukewarm or cool water. Don’t use hot water, since this could cause the plastic material to warp. Finally, give your retainer case a good cleaning to remove any residue left by your retainer.
Keep your retainer in good shape
Your retainer is designed to last, but if it gets scratched, broken, bent, discolored, or damaged in any way, Dr. Smith can help. To learn more about retainer care or if you have any problems with your retainer, call Freedom Orthodontics or book an appointment online today.