Orthodontic care continues even after you stop wearing your braces. Your orthodontist recommends orthodontic retainers to help stabilize the arrangement of your new teeth. Clear aligners or braces force the teeth back into the mouth, which involves bone absorption behind the oral cavity. After your teeth shift into the correct position, you should wear retainers to maintain the new look for the period your orthodontist suggests.
Most patients must wear orthodontic retainers forever, depending on certain factors. However, for some people, the duration of using retainers can be as short as four to six months. Patients are expected to wear their retainers at intervals, usually three or five times every week, especially for those who will be using them all their lives. Here are some tips for maintaining your retainers.
1. Regular cleaning
Your retainer should get the same cleaning as your teeth. Since you will be wearing them intermittently, use a toothbrush to scrub them carefully and rinse them with water after each wear. Avoid using toothpaste on your retainer because it can be too abrasive and leave unsightly marks. Keeping the retainers clean can be difficult when there are minor scratches.
2. Wear them often
You can maintain your retainers if you wear them often. Unless your orthodontist suggests something different, you should wear the retainers throughout the night and for your entire life. The best way to keep your teeth in a perfect position after wearing orthodontic braces is by consistently wearing your retainers.
3. Avoid exposing retainers to heat
Only when you keep your retainer away from heat will it fit. Your orthodontist can help you by designing a perfect retainer that fits your mouth. However, you will be responsible for caring for the retainers by avoiding substances that will alter their efficiency. To ensure the orthodontic retainer stays perfectly in place, avoid leaving it in hot areas such as cars or window sills.
Heat causes the retainers to warp or melt, resulting in the shape’s deformation. Also, when you take the retainers off, avoid placing them in hot water. Boiling an appliance in hot water is not the best way, and this will cause it to melt or warp. Never clean your retainer in boiling water, as the heat can damage it.
4. Keep dogs away from your retainers
Dogs love retainers, and they can ruin them altogether. No matter how much you care about your dogs, do not let them snack on your retainers. You can place your orthodontic retainer far away from dogs so they cannot reach it. You can place retainers on high surfaces, as dogs can hardly reach those areas.
5. Soak the retainer in clean water and cleaning solution for 5 minutes
Soak your retainer in ordinary water if you want to clean it correctly. You can buy Retainer Brite, usually designed as tablets, or make your cleaning agent by mixing ten parts water with 1 part bleach (sodium hypochlorite). You can soak your retainers for up to 10 minutes to get a squeaky-clean outcome.
6. Do not wrap retainers in napkins
When you are having a meal, and you take your retainers off, avoid placing them on napkins, as you or your waitperson can accidentally discard them in the garbage. To avoid tossing your retainer into a dumpster, place your retainers in their case.
7. Replace your retainer
Retainers can wear off, no matter the material used in designing them. Therefore, the moment you start noticing your retainers no longer appear excellent or fit as correctly as they should, you must replace them immediately. One of the essential parts of maintaining your smile is maintaining your retainers.
8. You should wear your retainers throughout your lifetime
After getting orthodontic treatment, your teeth can still shift. Therefore, after your treatment, the retainer helps by preventing your teeth from shifting, which is why you must wear them forever. You may neglect the process because you have straight teeth and believe they will stay that way throughout your life. But it is vital to maintain your straight teeth with an orthodontic retainer. Wear them day and night and take them off when necessary.
9. Be careful when putting on your retainers
Whenever you wear your retainers, put them on without leaving spaces between them and your teeth. Also, when you want to remove the retainer, do so without giving it a forceful flip with your tongue or pulling it off from the sides, as it can damage the retainer. When taking off your retainer, loosen it in separate places before easing it out of your mouth. Also, after removing it, place it inside the retainer case.
10. Brush your teeth
Avoid wearing your retainers over dirty teeth. Besides ordinary water, brush your teeth after each meal before returning the retainer. Wearing your retainers when your teeth are dirty can make the retainer dirty, and it can even lead to plaque buildup on your teeth.
11. Make every effort not to lose your retainer
When you go for a week without wearing your retainers, it can cause your teeth to move. So, try not to lose it. Your retainers’ safe place must be the retainer case. You can lose your orthodontic retainer if your dog or small child finds it and plays with it or if you place it carelessly while taking it off to eat or drink. However, if you have lost your retainer, your orthodontist can make another one.
12. Take your retainer to your orthodontist
When visiting your orthodontist for a checkup, ensure that you wear your retainers. They can inspect the retainer to see if it is still suitable for your use. If it worsens, your orthodontist can help you get a new one.
Maintaining your retainer will help you sustain your teeth by stopping them from moving after getting orthodontic treatment. If you want to maintain a great smile, orthodontic retainers are a long-lasting investment that you should embrace. It is easy to maintain your retainers, and it feels even better to have a more confident smile.