How to Take Care of Your Retainer

Phew! After months or even years of wearing braces, it must feel amazing to finally see your brand new smile! Your teeth are smooth, straight, and stunning, but that doesn’t mean your orthodontic journey is over. 

It isn’t enough just to align your beautiful smile – you’ve got to work to keep that hard-earned grin. After all your effort taking care of your braces, you definitely don’t want your teeth shifting back to their original positions. That means your new best friend is that retainer we just handed you – but how to make sure you take good care of it? Don’t worry, your favorite team of orthodontists at Cowan & Whitaker is here to give you tips on how to take care of your retainer so you can make sure your smile stays straight and stunning for years to come. 

Tip #1. Clean Your Retainer Properly and Consistently 

Consistency is the name of the retainer game. That goes for cleaning your retainer as well. Whereas keeping your braces clean might have come more naturally to you since you already brush your teeth twice a day, cleaning your retainer may take some time to get used to – and there are multiple different steps to doing so. 

First thing’s first: don’t brush your teeth with your retainer on! While this statement may seem counterintuitive, the toothpaste you’ve got on your toothbrush will erode some of the material that makes up your retainer. When you clean with toothpaste, little deposits can form on your device, leaving room for bacteria to grow. 

Instead, your doctors at Cowan & Whitaker Orthodontics recommend that you opt for a white vinegar solution. By cleaning your retainer at least once per week with a mixture of white vinegar and distilled water, not only will you keep your device from drying out, but the vinegar will also kill the bacteria that can age the retainer or cause bad breath. You may want to set a reminder for one day each week to help yourself remember to soak your retainer. Remembering to do so will definitely pay off in the long run. 

Finally, it is important to note that retainers last the longest when they are kept in a moist environment. Dry air can age your retainer meaning you’ll be having to get a replacement sooner than later. Ideally, you’ll be wearing your retainer nearly 24/7, but for the few moments you aren’t wearing it, it is absolutely necessary to soak your device. Our team suggests using a solution of distilled water and baking soda for this process. 

Tip #2. Apply, Wear, and Remove Your Retainer with Care

Wearing your retainer appropriately is so important to the overall usability of your retainer. Any time you have your retainer in, make sure that it fits snugly over your teeth without leaving any gaps. 

Retainers are meant to be worn practically 24 hours a day, but there are a few occasions when you should remove them. For example, when you brush your teeth, when you play contact sports, and when you eat, make sure to put your retainer in your case to ensure that it stands the test of time. 

Finally, although it may feel tempting and easy to attempt to remove your retainer or play with your retainer with the tip of your tongue, our doctors want to warn you not to fall into that habit. If you want to keep your retainer useful in the long run, it is absolutely essential that you learn how to remove it properly. Using both hands, apply a gentle and steady pressure to pull the retainer away from your teeth. As always, if you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask us during your next visit!

Tip #3. Keep Your Retainer in a Safe Place

We’ve all heard horror stories about patients who accidentally wrap their retainer in a napkin on the table of a restaurant just to get up, forget the retainer, and find that the waiter or waitress has thrown it away. It happens from time to time, but learning from the experience of that friend we know is our best tool to make sure it doesn’t happen to us. 

One of the best tools you have at your disposal to make sure you don’t lose your retainer is your retainer case. Make it a habit to bring it with you wherever you go so that you can easily place your retainer inside when you head into football practice or take a pit stop at the food court. This will help you avoid misplacing your device – you’ll thank us later. 

Similarly, keep your retainer away from your pets. It may seem gross to us, but pets are often attracted to the smell of the saliva left on retainers after we remove them. You don’t want your retainer to wind up in your dog’s mouth when it is supposed to be in your own! Keep that case handy and you shouldn’t have any problems. 

Tip #4. Keep Going to Your Follow-Up Visits

It is so important to the care of your retainer and the maintenance of your teeth that you keep showing up to follow-up visits. This helps your orthodontic team know if any new adjustments are needed or if it is time to replace your retainer. It also provides you with the opportunity to keep an open line of communication with your orthodontic team as any questions or concerns with your new retainer pop up. And besides, we look forward to seeing your smile! 

Cowan & Whitaker Orthodontics is Here for Your Success

At Cowan & Whitaker Orthodontics, we know how to prepare our patients for the journey to a happier and healthier smile, and we make it a point to be there with them every step of the way. Whether it is learning how to take care of your retainer or knowing when it is time to start the orthodontic process, we’ve got your back. 

If you or someone you know have questions about getting braces, be sure to schedule one of our free consultations so you can learn what we are all about. 

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