Your braces are off! Finally, your orthodontic treatment is over — right? Not quite. You still need to wear your retainer.
Retainers help hold your teeth in their new positions while your roots stabilize and “take hold.” Wearing your retainer as directed is an important part of orthodontic treatment, “locking in” all your beautiful results.
The good news: Retainers are simple to maintain. Brendan Smith, DDS, MS, offers these quick tips to help his patients at Freedom Orthodontics in Cedar Park, Texas, care for their new retainers with ease.
Keep your retainer clean
Your retainer needs to be brushed regularly, just like your teeth. Use a soft brush and a very small amount of toothpaste to gently scrub the body and wires, and rinse it thoroughly afterward.
To keep your retainer really fresh, you can soak it briefly in diluted mouthwash. At mealtime, rinse your retainer before popping it back in your mouth to keep it fresh and prevent bacterial buildup.
Take your retainer out for meals
You might be instructed to wear your retainer for most of the day, but that doesn’t mean wearing it while you eat. Always remove your retainer before eating meals or snacks — even small snacks — unless directed otherwise by Dr. Smith. The force of chewing can easily bend your wires out of shape.
Use your retainer case
Your retainer came with a case for a reason — to keep it safe, clean, and protected when it’s not in your mouth. Always carry your retainer case with you, and when you remove your retainer, put it in its case right away.
Don’t just pop your retainer into your pocket, backpack, or purse. Even though your retainer is sturdy, it can be bent out of shape, which means it won’t help keep your teeth in their proper positions. (It also means you’ll probably need to get a new retainer!) And don’t wrap it in a napkin, where it can easily be thrown away.
Keep your retainer moist
Your retainer may become brittle if allowed to dry out. Ask Dr. Smith about whether you need to add water to your retainer case to keep it moist when it’s not in your mouth.
Take your retainer out for swimming
When you swim, you tend to open and close your mouth a lot — especially if you’re swimming laps. It’s easy for retainers to fall out and get lost, and the chlorine in a pool could damage the plastic of the retainer too.
Protect your retainer from extreme heat
Exposure to high temperatures could cause your retainer to warp out of shape. Never keep your retainer inside a hot car, and avoid rinsing or soaking it in really hot water.
Keep your retainer away from pets
Another benefit of keeping your retainer in its case: It just might prevent it from becoming a chew toy. Pets — dogs especially — are often tempted by retainers. If you leave yours lying around, it could wind up badly damaged.
Bring your retainer to appointments
Retainers may need adjustments or modifications over time. By bringing your retainer to every appointment, we can examine it to make sure it’s still doing the job it’s supposed to do.
Wearing your retainer on a regular basis, exactly as directed is vitally important for enjoying a lifetime of straight, beautiful teeth. If you have questions about your retainer, call our office in Cedar Park, Texas, or book an appointment online with Freedom Orthodontics today.