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 custom retainers to keep your smile straight for life. Taking care of your retainers is essential, so here is your guide to cleaning and caring for them.
Many patients believe treatment ends when their braces come off, but wearing your retainer is one of the most critical aspects of your treatment plan at Lifetime 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. Wesley 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 wear to keep your teeth straight.
After we remove your appliances, you’ll need to wear your retainers for 22 hours per day for 6-8 weeks. This is when your teeth are the most susceptible to shifting, and wearing your retainers full-time during this time will allow your teeth to settle into their new positions.
Teeth move our entire life, so you’ll always need to wear a retainer to maintain your smile results. We recommend wearing them every night for life after the initial period of full-time wear, so you can keep smiling confidently.
The Importance of Caring for Your Retainer
The most obvious reason for taking care of your retainers is to extend the appliances’ lifespan and maintain their effectiveness, saving you money, time, and energy. There are a few additional reasons to keep up with your retainer cleaning routine.
Poor Retainer Hygiene Could Age Your Retainer
Keeping your retainers clean is essential to protecting their longevity and usefulness. Like your teeth, dirty retainers attract harmful bacteria and plaque that could break down the appliances’ 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 Retainers Properly
First thing first: don’t brush your teeth while wearing your retainers! You can brush your retainers after brushing your teeth to remove the loose plaque, but do not apply fresh toothpaste directly. 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. Wesley recommends using a white vinegar solution. By cleaning your retainers 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 retainers. Building this habit will pay off for your smile.
It Could Dry Out
Retainers thrive in a moist environment, so keeping them in your mouth as often as Dr. Wesley directs protects the appliance as much as it protects your straight smile. Once you only wear your retainers at night, 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 retainers inside a protective case when they aren’t in your mouth helps prevent dryness, but that isn’t enough. Even in the case, your retainers 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 it doesn’t dry out and crack.
It Could Lose Its Shape
Wearing your retainers doesn’t just keep your smile straight – it also keeps your appliances useful. Your teeth could shift if you don’t wear your retainers for the recommended hours. When your teeth shift, your retainers 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 appliances’ effectiveness – just wear your retainers. Doing so will ensure that your retainers last longer and hold your teeth in line, leaving you with a smile you’ll love forever.
If You Lose Your Retainers
Since our teeth move our whole lives, you will need to wear your retainers your whole life to keep the Lifetime Smile you worked so hard to get. If you lose your retainers or they get damaged so that they are no longer wearable, Dr. Wesley will always recommend that you replace them as soon as possible.
Tip: Call Lifetime Orthodontics ASAP Call us as soon as you realize your retainers are lost or damaged. We will walk you through the steps to get replacement retainers and schedule you appropriately. Consider purchasing the Retainer Program, which will allow you up to 4 free replacement retainers per year for up to 6 years after your braces/aligners are removed.
Maintain a Healthy Smile for Life with Lifetime Orthodontics
Taking care of your retainers 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. Wesley will guarantee your smile lasts your lifetime.
If you still need braces or clear aligners, booking your free consultation in our Clinton Township or Grosse Pointe office is the first step on your straight smile journey. Schedule your appointment today!