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How to Care for Your Retainer

Now that your braces are off and you are sporting your new, dazzling smile, it is critical to maintain it. Your jaw wants to go back to its original position, but you didn’t go through the years and expense of braces to go and lose it all. You want to keep those straight, pearly whites for life. That is where your retainer comes in. There are several different types of retainers, including clear trays, permanent fixtures, and your typical Hawley wire retainer that is molded to fit the roof of your mouth. Wearing your retainer is crucial for maintaining your newly aligned teeth, and caring for it is simple. 

Daily Cleaning

Your retainer requires daily cleaning. Otherwise, it will develop food, bacteria, and mineral deposits that affect the integrity and fit of your retainer–not to mention the fact that these deposits are not at all hygienic! To clean your permanent retainer, nothing special is required. Simply brush and floss your teeth like normal. To clean your clear, plastic retainer tray, rinse it thoroughly in cool water as soon as you take it out. You should also brush your teeth after eating, before putting it back in. If you can’t get to a toothbrush, rinse your mouth out with water. This is important because clear retainer trays form to your teeth, harboring food particles and harmful bacteria. Additionally, you can use a soft-bristled toothbrush and cool water to gently clean the retainer a couple times a week. Your Hawley retainer should also be rinsed when you take it out of your mouth. Brush it daily with cool water and a soft toothbrush.  

Deep Cleaning

In addition to daily cleaning, your removable retainer should be deep cleaned weekly. There are special retainer cleansers and soaking solutions for this, but a simple mixture of warm (not hot) water, baking soda, and white vinegar are effective deep cleansers. Make a solution with these common household ingredients and soak your retainer for about 15 minutes, once per week. After it is done soaking, rinse the retainer thoroughly.

Retainer Do-Not’s

Beyond regular cleaning, you should be aware of common retainer hazards. Do not eat or drink anything but water with your retainer in. Keep your retainer away from babies and dogs! Never expose your retainer to heat. And beware of the wrapping-it-up-in-a-napkin-while-you-eat pitfall, unless you enjoy dumpster-diving!

Your retainer is your best friend for helping you maintain your beautiful smile. Take good care of it to avoid costly replacements. Luckily, retainer maintenance is as simple as regular cleaning and watching out for retainer pitfalls. 

Click here to learn more about why retainers are so important. Also, if you are new to the area and are looking for a caring orthodontist to handle your retention-related needs, look no further than Sonneveld Orthodontics!