Your retainer is an essential part of your orthodontic treatment that helps keep your teeth aligned after or in the placement of braces. When you don’t wear your retainer as you should, it can result in your teeth shifting out of place. We know you can get busy having fun over the summer, so we have some tips on caring for your retainers, so you continue your treatment while you have fun!
Keep Track of Your Retainer
Lost dental retainers are the number one reason for retainer replacement. There are a lot of situations in which you will be putting in and removing your retainer during everyday activities.
Here are a few essential tips for keeping track of your retainer throughout the day:
- When you receive your retainer, we give you specific instructions regarding when you should wear it and when you shouldn’t wear it. Unless instructed otherwise, always wear your retainer before going to bed. Your teeth can shift during the night, so it is always essential to have your dental retainer in place.
- Always be sure to remove your retainers at the start of every meal. To ensure you keep track of your retainer, put it immediately into its case. People often lose retainers in school lunchrooms and restaurants.
- Pets love to chew on retainers. Keep your retainer in its case when it’s not in your mouth and keep the case out of reach of pets.
- Remember to remove your retainer before swimming if you plan a day at the pool or beach.
Lack of maintenance is the second most common reason that retainers need replacement. A lack of cleaning and care of your equipment will cause damage and eventually lead to the necessity of a replacement retainer. Follow these guidelines to keep your retainer maintained throughout its use:
- To thoroughly clean your retainer of plaque and odors, use warm water, toothpaste, and a toothbrush gently scrub all sides. Do this once a day to ensure no buildup of unwanted plaque.
- For more thorough cleaning, you can do a hydrogen peroxide soak. Mix warm water and 3% hydrogen peroxide in equal amounts and soak your retainer for 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with warm water.
- Keep your retainer away from the heat! Heat or direct sunlight can melt or damage your retainer. Avoid hot water, leaving your retainer in the sun or hot car, and hot surfaces such as washing machine or dryer.
- If you get sick and are worried about your retainer being contaminated, you can scrub it well with a mixture of 1 teaspoon of bleach in 8 oz of water.
NEVER soak your retainer in boiling water. Hot water can melt it and distort it. Never soak your retainer in Efferdent, rubbing alcohol, or bleach; the chemicals will distort it.
- Treat your retainers with care: they’re easily breakable. Call us immediately if you lose or break your retainer.
Summer means sunshine, outdoor activities, and travel. However, your appliances also have a greater chance of bacterial growth. Retainers are the perfect place for bacteria to grow since bacteria grows in warm, moist conditions and can be transmitted through food. But following these tips can keep your retainer sparkling clean and protected all summer:
- Pack Your Brush: If you are going to summer camp or on a trip with family, be sure to pack your brush.
- Keep it fresh: If your retainer feels dirty while you’re out and about and you don’t have enough time for a complete cleaning, try swishing some water around your mouth. Staying hydrated is essential when it’s hot outside and can help prevent bacterial overgrowth, dry mouth, and tooth decay.
- Brush regularly: Like your teeth, you should also be cleaning your retainer. At least once a day, use a toothbrush and a non-whitening toothpaste to brush your retainer gently, and then rinse it thoroughly before storing it or putting it in your mouth. If the retainer looks cloudy, has white spots on it, carries a foul odor or taste, it’s time to clean it.
- Store it safely: Your retainer is a vital part of your orthodontic treatment, and we do not want you to have to buy more of them.
By following these tips, you will get into a routine of cleaning and storing your retainer, so it just becomes part of your daily routine.
Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about your retainer.
Enjoy your summer!
Dr. David McDonough