How to Properly Care for Your Retainer
It’s essential to follow your orthodontists ’recommendation and wear your retainer after completing orthodontic treatment to ensure that your new smile lasts a lifetime. You’ve put in a considerable amount of time and effort towards achieving your new smile, and wearing a retainer is a crucial step that should not be overlooked in your treatment plan. Simply put, the only way to guarantee a perfect smile is to wear your retainer.
Retainers hold your teeth in their new positions while bone tissue rebuilds around them. Without using a retainer post-treatment, it could tempt the teeth to revert to their original positions. Teeth could potentially shift because the bone that holds the teeth in place continually breaks down and rebuilds. When patients wear their retainers as prescribed by their orthodontist, it eliminates the chance of tooth movement.
The type of retainer used after treatment depends on your original orthodontic condition. Your orthodontist will prescribe either a fixed or removable option, and both will be custom-fit to your new smile. It is important to discuss all options with your orthodontist and decide on the retainer that is best suited for your specific orthodontic needs. But no matter what type of retainer is worn, it’s imperative to care for your appliance properly.
How to insert and remove your retainer
If you have been prescribed a removable retainer rather than a fixed wire, it’s essential that you correctly understand how to insert it into the mouth. When inserting, start by gently pushing the retainer over your front teeth and applying slight pressure to the tops of your right and left molars. The applied pressure ensures that the retainer snaps appropriately in place. To remove, use your fingertips on the inside of your back molars to slowly pull the retainer away from the teeth.
Place your retainer in its case when not in use
Once the retainer is removed from the mouth, it should be rinsed with cool water and stored in its accompanying case. This avoids the possibility of damaging or losing the appliance. Additionally, you should never wrap your retainer in a napkin or leave it sitting on the counter, as it eliminates the possibility of your retainer being mistaken as garbage and thrown away.
Always keep your retainer clean
Your orthodontist will provide instructions on cleaning removable appliances. Bacteria can form on the retainer, and it’s crucial to eliminate this bacteria before reinserting. Your orthodontist may recommend gently brushing your retainer with toothpaste after removing and before reinserting. Your orthodontist may also recommend using an effervescent cleaner to disinfect the appliance thoroughly. Permanent or fixed retainers should be brushed and flossed regularly as well. It is helpful to use interdental or interproximal brushes as a regular part of your at-home oral hygiene routine.
Follow the instructions from your orthodontist
The total amount of time that you need to wear your retainer will depend on the original position of your teeth. Most patients are instructed to wear their retainer for at least 20 to 22 hours each day for the first two months after removing braces or after clear aligner treatment is completed.
After two months, and based on your specific orthodontic needs, it is likely that you’ll be able to switch to wearing the retainer only at night. But for optimal results and to ensure your new smile stays perfect, you should continue to wear the retainer every night indefinitely.
When to replace your retainer
Wear and tear on your retainer will occur from regular use. It’s important to keep a close eye on the condition of your retainer and replace it when necessary. You could require a replacement if you grind your teeth while sleeping, if you lose or damage the appliance, or if you stop wearing your retainer and the teeth start to shift. For most patients, a retainer can last anywhere from two to five years. Patients must be compliant with their prescribed retainer to keep their achieved results.
Remember that it’s important to be diligent with your at-home oral care routine and maintain regular visits to your dentist for routine exams and professional cleanings. Retainers will only work if you wear them, and there’s no reason that you can’t play a key role in keeping your smile perfectly straight for a lifetime.