Retainers are the unsung heroes of orthodontics, because without them, teeth straightened by braces and Invisalign would simply “wander” back to their original positions! Just like with braces and clear aligners, taking care of a retainer is vital to its ability to keep someone’s new smile looking and feeling great. If you or your child has a retainer (or will in the near future), make sure to follow these 4 care tips.
1. Brush It Every Day
Once a patient receives a retainer, they should clean it as often (if not more) than their teeth. That means in the morning as well as the evening right before going to bed. The best way to do this is to brush the retainer with water—regular toothpaste is too abrasive and might scratch it. This will prevent food and bacteria from accumulating on it, which will help the retainer fit (and smell!) better over time.
2. Don’t Eat with Your Removeable Retainer
Permanent retainers are positioned within the mouth so that a patient can eat and chew without worry, but when it comes to a removable plastic retainer, it should always be taken out before that first bite. Otherwise, the retainer could slip out of place, and it isn’t strong enough to stand up to a bite (plus this doesn’t exactly feel pleasant!). A patient should take their retainer out, eat, and then brush their teeth and rinse the appliance off before putting it back in.
3. Always Put It in the Case
Whenever a retainer comes out, it should only go in its dedicated carrying case. Otherwise, retainers have an almost supernatural ability to disappear…especially if the family dog is around! Placing a retainer on a table or napkin is risky, as this makes it easy for the appliance to end up in the garbage. So, that’s why a patient should always have their retainer case with them and put their retainer in it every time they remove it.
4. Bring It to Follow-Up Appointments
A patient will need to attend follow-up appointments with their orthodontist after they receive a retainer, and this is so the doctor can make sure that the newly adjusted teeth are staying put (which will be a sign that the retainer is being worn enough). Plus, if the retainer has been damaged or needs to be adjusted, the orthodontist can take care of it right away before this leads to bigger issues down the line.
The retainer phase is an exciting time for a patient because it allows them to experience the world with their new smile, and by following these tips and wearing their appliance as directed, they can trust that their fresh look will last for a lifetime to come.
About the Author
Dr. Jeffery Shirck is a board-certified, award-winning orthodontist that has served the Columbus area for over a decade. As such, he has provided countless retainers over the years and is always happy to give patients all the information they need to protect their beautifully straightened teeth. To get more tips on retainer care or schedule a FREE in-person consultation at Shirck Orthodontics, click here.