How to Take Care of Your Retainer

Your braces are finally off, but your orthodontic work isn’t done yet. To keep your smile the way you want it, you’ll need a retainer. Keeping and maintaining a retainer takes work and the right habits to keep it clean and safe. But don’t worry. Brady Orthodontics has a couple of tips to help you keep your retainer intact and your smile just right.

Clean Your Retainer Regularly

You have a hygiene routine for your teeth, have one for your retainer too. Just as you keep your teeth regularly clean, make sure what’s keeping them aligned is clean too. After each use, scrub your retainer with a toothbrush in distilled water. Don’t brush the retainer with toothpaste. Toothpaste can be abrasive and leave scratches that make it harder to keep your retainer clean as well as erode the plastic. After it’s scrubbed, rise it out before putting it back in your mouth or putting it away. If you have a protective case, be sure to keep that clean as well so no dust or dirt touches your retainer. Don’t put your retainer in the dishwasher, as this can result in damage. Instead, wash it by hand in your bathroom sink.

Brush Your Teeth Before And After Wearing Your Retainer

Anything dirty on your teeth can wind up in your retainer. Grim can build up if it’s left inside your retainer right by your teeth. If your teeth are clean when you put the retainer on, the retainer is more likely to stay clean in turn. And when you take your retainer off, brushing your teeth again can eliminate an access plaque you’ve accumulated in your retainer throughout the day. It also helps to rinse your retainer before putting it back in your mouth.

Wear Your Retainer Appropriately

While your retainer is in your mouth, make sure it’s worn and secured properly to avoid damage. Retainers should be worn up to twenty-four hours a day. However, there are exceptions and times when removing them is appropriate. These can include when eating or drinking, chewing gum, playing contact sports, cleaning them, or any time our orthodontists specify. Do not bite down too hard or grind your teeth while wearing your retainer. This could damage or erode the plastic. Always make sure your retainer is secured tightly on your teeth with no space between your teeth and the plastic.

Be Careful When Taking Your Retainer On And Off

As you go about your day, it’s important not to damage your retainer when you take it on and off. When removing it, do not twist it with your tongue or pull it to one side. Check for any gaps between your teeth and the retainer so that it’s nicely secure. If your retainer has metal wires, avoid pulling or picking at them so they don’t weaken or snap. Don’t expose your retainer to direct heat such as sunlight or boiling water for a long time or risk the plastic being melted or warped. If you take it off, place it somewhere where it’s less likely to get lost or dirty. Keep it in a protective case so it stays safe from anything that could damage it.

Soak Your Retainer And Keep It Moisturized

Retainers receive plenty of moisture while you’re wearing them because your mouth is naturally wet. But it’s important to rinse them and keep them wet even when they’re out of your mouth. To keep your retainer extra clean, try soaking it for five to ten minutes. You can buy retainer cleaner and soak your retainer in a small tray. If you accidentally spill something on your retainer, drop it on the ground, or if it’s particularly messy after a long day, a nice soak can help you wash away any excess grim. It also helps to keep your retainer moisturized in general to keep it from drying out, which can leave it more prone to damage. 

Keep Your Retainer In One Spot

Always keep your retainer somewhere easy to find so you don’t lose it. Keep them in a protective case that you can keep in a bathroom drawer or carry with you. If you don’t have a case, use a bag, pocket, or other secure device that it won’t fall out of. Keep your retainer out of reach of pets or children who may tamper with it. If you’re at a restaurant and take it off to eat, don’t wrap it up in a napkin, or someone like a waiter or yourself may accidentally throw it away. If you do lose it, make sure to replace it.

Replace Your Retainer When Needed

A well-made retainer can still deteriorate after a while, especially if it’s well-worn. To keep your teeth and jaw aligned, it’s good to get a replacement when your current one starts to wear down. If you see holes or scratches in your retainer, it may be time to get a new one. If you’re unsure if it’s time to get a new retainer, ask one of our doctors. Make sure to stay on top of follow-up visits with our orthodontists. If your retainer breaks, erodes or gets lost, contact one of our orthodontists. We’ll replace it for you.  

Your smile is safe with Brady Orthodontics

If you want orthodontic care with the best technology in the best environment, there’s no one like Brady Orthodontics in Winnetka. Dr. Brady will create a custom treatment plan just for you and provide you with the right care throughout your smile journey. Since orthodontics is his primary and only specialty, Dr. Brady and his expert team have the experience necessary to give you the best in treatment, costs, and efficiency as you align your jaw and smile!

If you still have questions about getting and taking care of a retainer, our ready and eager orthodontic team would love to chat with you for your FREE consultation to get you started on your treatment journey. There is no pressure or obligation to enter a treatment plan. Only great individualized information to help you decide what is right for you.