retainers

Taking Care Of Your Retainer

GRADUATING FROM BRACES to retainers is a major milestone for any orthodontic patient, but retainers still take work, because anything that spends that much time in our mouths will become smelly and covered in gunk if we don’t keep it clean. So how exactly do we do that? Well, to some extent, it depends on the type of retainer.

Hawley Retainer

A Hawley retainer is a tried and true classic more commonly known as a wire retainer, because it’s made with pieces of wire fixed to an acrylic plate specially fitted to the roof of your mouth.

The easiest and cheapest way to clean a Hawley retainer is by occasionally soaking it in water with baking soda (too often could damage any soldered metal pieces). Baking soda water is also much safer than using effervescent tablets, which contain allergens your retainer will absorb. Mouthwash is a bad idea too, because it dries your retainer out enough to damage it.

Essix Retainer

Essix retainers are clear plastic retainers, which makes them much more low-profile than Hawley retainers. They are not, however, so low profile that you can eat with them in. Make sure you take them out before you eat and brush your teeth before you put them back in. The food particles that bacteria turn into plaque and tartar on your teeth will also leave tartar deposits on your retainers.

You should also brush your retainer as often as you brush your teeth, but don’t use toothpaste. When rinsing it with water, make sure it’s not too hot, because that can warp the plastic. Soaking in baking soda water is a good way to clean Essix retainers, and there’s no metal solder to worry about. After you clean it, store your Essix retainer in a container of distilled water so that it can’t dry out.

Permanent Retainer

A permanent retainer is a metal bar cemented to the backs of your teeth. These retainers can last a very long time, and they’re most often applied to the front six bottom teeth. Don’t let these retainers discourage you from flossing! Flossing is the most important part of how you keep permanent retainers clean and protect the teeth they’re attached to!

That being said, we understand that it’s harder to floss teeth around a retainer, but you can use threaders or special floss designed to be used with retainers to make it easier.

Why Are Retainers So Important?

Each type of retainer has a unique set of benefits, but they are all integral to the success your orthodontic treatment. Your teeth are held in your gums by tiny periodontal ligaments, and it takes a while for those ligaments to get used to the post-braces arrangement. If you don’t wear removable retainers as directed, the periodontal ligaments will start tugging your teeth back to how they were before you had braces, so treat those retainers right by following these care tips, and don’t forget to wear them!

Whichever Retainer You Use, Keep It Clean!

No matter what kind of retainers you have, you can bring them with you to our office or your regular dentist to be inspected and cleaned just like your teeth!

Congratulations to all our patients who’ve moved on from braces to retainers!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user Sara Neff used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Caring For Your Orthodontic Retainer

THE DAY YOU HAVE BEEN waiting for has finally arrived… your braces are off. Congratulations! A lot of people mistakenly believe that orthodontic treatment ends after braces, but it’s important to understand that wearing a retainer has an equally essential part in creating and maintaining that beautiful new smile of yours.

Take Proper Care Of Your Retainer

The first step in taking care of your retainer is to clean it daily. Depending on your preference as well as the type of retainer you get, maintenance may vary. Below we’ve compiled our top recommendations on how to clean your orthodontic appliance.

Denture Cleansers

Denture cleansers are a simple and easy way to clean your retainer. Efferdent and Polident are popular brands. If you have a retainer with solder joints, make sure you use a non-persulfate cleansersuch as DentaSoak. Simply soak your retainer for the recommended amount of time, rinse and gently scrub with a toothbrush specifically designated for your retainer.

Dish Soap and Baking Soda

These mild household cleaners also work well to clean your retainer. Scrub your retainer with a toothbrush and mild dish soap. Rinse thoroughly. Or if you’d rather opt for baking soda, wet your toothbrush and sprinkle some on the head. Scrub and rinse well with warm water.

Your Orthodontist’s Office

We can clean your retainers for you! If you feel that over time your retainers need a more thorough cleaning, we have a tool in our office that can help. And, of course, we jump at any opportunity to see our patients!

Protect Your Investment

We’ve all heard the retainer horror stories… throwing it away with your school lunch, leaving it on the table only to find it later, a mangled mess in your dog’s mouth. Here are some tips to help you protect your investment:

  • Do not use toothpaste to clean your retainer (unless it is non-abrasive). The majority of toothpastes contain abrasive substances that can scratch your retainer, damaging its appearance over time and creating places where bacteria can collect.
  • When your retainer isn’t in your mouth, keep it in your case and out of reach of small children or pets.
  • Never boil or use hot water to rinse your retainer. You wouldn’t want it to melt or change shape.
  • Avoid wrapping it up in napkins so it doesn’t accidentally get thrown away.
  • If you choose to place your retainer in mouthwash for that fresh, minty taste, make sure it’s a mouthwash that doesn’t contain alcohol. Alcohol can cause damage to the retainer acrylic.

Keep Up The Good Work

Taking care of your retainer is just as important as wearing it. You’ve worked hard for that beautiful, straight smile–we’re here to help you keep it that way! Do you have any questions about retainer maintenance? Call us or let us know in the comments below.

Thank you for your loyalty to our practice.

Top image by Flickr user richardhe51067 used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.