Your braces are finally off! Now your orthodontist says you have to wear a retainer to help complete your treatment. Unlike braces, retainers are a removable dental apparatus. Which means that you will most likely wear it for a specified time during the day or at night while you sleep. How long you have to wear your retainer is determined on a case-by-case basis. So, with all of the flexibility that comes along with your new retainer, it’s important to understand how to care for it.
Keep your retainer clean. Retainers can hold bacteria and can also have plaque build-up. If not cleansed, plaque can eventually alter the fit of your retainer, sabotaging the treatment process. Always clean your retainer. Rinse it daily with warm water to remove bacteria. Brush your retainer with your toothbrush to remove additional bacteria and plaque. Allow it to dry and then return it to the case. Cleaning a retainer the wrong way can change the fit and subsequently the effectiveness of the retainer.
- Never use scolding hot or boiling water to cleanse or rinse your retainer.
- Do not place your retainer in a washing machine or dishwasher as this could cause the retainer to bend or crack.
Keep your retainer safe. Retainers can be costly to replace. Not only does it take time to replace, but going without your retainer can prolong your treatment. One of the most common ways that patients lose their retainer is to wrap it in a napkin or tissue while enjoying a meal. It eventually gets thrown out as trash — especially when dining in restaurants.
Children and pets often mistake a retainer for a toy. Retainers are usually made of acrylic or rubber, so they are very durable. However, because they are custom made, thin, and have an attached wire, they can be delicate and easily manipulated or broken. It is best to keep your retainer away from children or pets.