It is common for your orthodontist to prescribe a retainer after braces. Retainers are a part of the orthopedic treatment that helps keep teeth aligned after or in the placement of braces. It is far too often that people neglect the use and care of their retainer, especially when they go on vacation. Unfortunately, not wearing your retainer will result in your teeth shifting out of place. Here are a few tips to help with the maintenance of your retainer.
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.
It is essential always to keep track of where you keep your equipment to ensure it doesn’t become lost or damaged. Here are a few tips for keeping track of your retainer as you use it throughout the day:
- Your orthodontist should give you specific instructions regarding when you should and shouldn’t wear your retainer. Unless instructed otherwise, always wear your retainer before going to bed. Shifting can happen throughout the night, so it is always essential to have your dental retainer in place.
- Children most often lose their retainers in school lunchrooms and restaurants. So, 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.
- Pets love to chew on retainers. When your retainer is not in your mouth, keep your retainers in a retainer case.
- If you plan a day at the pool or beach, always remember to remove your dental retainer before swimming.
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 ensure that you keep your retainer maintained adequately 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 rid it of unwanted plaque buildup.
- While Efferdent or other orthodontic appliance cleaners may be helpful, they do not take the place of brushing. Always be sure to follow your daily scrubbing routine.
- Treat your retainers with care: they’re easily breakable. Call us immediately if you lose or break your retainer.
- Keep retainers away from the heat! Heat can damage your retainer. Be sure to avoid things like hot water, hot car dashboards, the washing machine, and the dryer.
Summer means sunshine, warmer weather, travel, and a greater chance of bacterial growth on your appliances.
Retainers are the perfect place for bacteria to grow since bacteria thrive in warm, moist conditions. Also, bacteria can be transmitted through food.
However, you can keep your retainer sparkling clean all summer with a simple routine. Here are some ways to keep your retainer and mouth in good shape all summer.
- Keep it fresh: If your retainer feels dirty while you’re out and about, but you don’t have enough time for a complete cleaning, try swishing some water around your mouth. Staying hydrated, which is essential to do when it’s hot outside, can help prevent bacterial overgrowth, dry mouth, and tooth decay.
- Brush regularly: Like your teeth, you should also be cleaning your retainer. 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, or you haven’t cleaned it for over a week, it’s time to clean it.
- Store it safely: Your retainer should be stored in a case when it is not in use. If you don’t have a case nearby, a damp paper towel is an acceptable temporary solution to soak it. Retainers are more likely to get damaged if they dry out, so the damp paper towel ensures your retainer will last long and won’t break or lose its shape. You can also soak your retainer in denture cleaner. Denture cleaner can sometimes cause it to have a slight odor or taste, but a quick rinse can easily eradicate it with water.
Your retainer is an integral part of your orthodontic treatment, and we do not want you to have to buy more of them. Your retainer will stay in great shape by following these guidelines and tips, just like your teeth!
Dr. David McDonough