Congratulations! Your braces are off, and you’re ready to start the second phase of your treatment plan: retention. Our team will fit you for a custom retainer that will keep your smile straight for life. Taking care of your retainer is essential to retention, so we have your guide to cleaning and caring for your retainer at Sandifer Orthodontics.
Many patients believe treatment ends when their braces come off, but wearing your retainer is one of the most critical aspects of your comprehensive treatment plan at Sandifer Orthodontics. That’s because straightening your smile requires two key phases: active treatment and retention.
Active treatment includes the time spent wearing your braces or Invisalign trays as Dr. Sandifer aligns your teeth. Once your smile is straight, however, treatment is only halfway over. The retention phase will last the rest of your life and requires consistent retainer use to keep your teeth straight.
After we remove your braces, we recommend wearing your retainer 22 hours per day for six months. This is when your teeth are the most susceptible to shifting, and wearing your retainer during this time will allow your jaw bones to settle more permanently into their new positions.
However, your teeth can shift after orthodontic treatment, so you’ll always need to wear a retainer if you want to keep your smile results. We recommend wearing them every night for life after the first six months, so you can keep smiling confidently.
The Importance of Caring for Your Retainer
The most obvious reason for taking care of your retainer is to extend the appliance’s lifespan, saving you money, time, and energy. However, there are a few additional reasons to keep up with your retainer maintenance routine.
It Could Dry Out
Retainers thrive in a moist environment, so keeping them in your mouth as often as Dr. Sandifer directs protects the appliance as much as it protects your straight smile. After the six months following debonding, you’ll only wear your retainer when you sleep, so there is a greater risk of the appliance drying out.
Dry retainers attract bacteria that cause bad breath and introduce cavities to your mouth. They can also become brittle, making them more prone to breaking, which would require getting a replacement retainer.
Tip: Soak Your Retainer to Prevent Dryness
Keeping your retainer inside a protective case when it isn’t in your mouth helps prevent dryness, but it isn’t enough. Even in this case, your retainer could be exposed to dry air that could cause harm. You can use a simple, orthodontist-approved solution to prevent dryness: baking soda and water. By soaking your appliance in this solution once weekly, you’ll ensure that it doesn’t dry out and crack.
Poor Retainer Hygiene Could Age Your Retainer
Keeping your retainer clean is essential to protecting its longevity and usefulness. Like your teeth, dirty retainers attract harmful bacteria and plaque that could break down the appliance’s material and cause bad breath. These issues can lead to additional dental problems that could cost you more time and money in the long run.
Tip: Clean Your Retainer…But Do It the Right Way
First thing first: don’t brush your teeth while wearing your retainer! You can brush your retainer after brushing your teeth to remove the loose plaque, but do not apply fresh toothpaste directly to the retainer. It could cause your retainer to become cloudy. Rinse your toothbrush after brushing, then remove plaque with your toothbrush and rinse.
To keep your retainers looking clear and sparkly clean, Dr. Sandifer recommends using a white vinegar solution. By cleaning your retainer at least once per week with a mixture of white vinegar and distilled water, you’ll keep your device from drying out, and the vinegar will also kill the bacteria that can age the retainer or cause bad breath. Set a weekly reminder to help yourself remember to soak your retainer. Building this habit will pay off for your smile.
It Could Lose Its Shape
Wearing your retainer doesn’t just keep your smile straight – it also keeps your appliance useful. Your teeth could shift if you don’t wear your retainer for the recommended daily hours. When your teeth shift, your retainer won’t match your smile, and you might require a replacement to bring them back into alignment.
Tip: Wear Your Retainer As Directed
This is the simplest way to maintain your appliance’s effectiveness – just wear your retainer. Doing so will ensure that your retainer lasts longer and holds your teeth in line, leaving you with a smile you’ll love forever.
Maintain a Healthy Smile for Life with Sandifer Orthodontics
Taking care of your retainer is essential to the well-being of your smile. Rather than undergoing a second round of treatment later in life, cleaning your retainer properly and wearing it as directed by Dr. Sandifer will guarantee your smile lasts as long as possible.