Wearing your retainer properly is a major aspect of your aftercare after your braces come off. Your orthodontist will instruct you on how long you should wear it, when you can take it out, and how to clean it.
While cleaning a retainer sounds like extra work, it will save you time and money in the long run by ensuring the hard work spent straightening your smile doesn’t go to waste. Continue reading to learn about how to care for your retainer to avoid complications and keep your hard-won smile healthy.
Want to find out if you or your child needs braces? Visit Reese Orthodontics in Charleston, SC for leading orthodontic care.
Why Do I Need a Retainer?
No matter how long it’s been since your teeth were straightened, your ligaments will eventually shift teeth back into their original positions. Braces are designed to fix malocclusions, including overcrowding, under-crowding, bite issues, and more. But they cannot make permanent changes to your oral structures without the help of a retainer.
Retainers are designed to help the changes made by your braces remain as permanent as possible, though not everyone has to wear a retainer 22 hours a day for years. Likely, after the initial few months, your orthodontist will lower your requirement to 8 hours a day, only when you sleep at night.
Retainers do more than hold teeth in their new alignment, however. They also help your jaw bones and gums align after treatment. Since braces loosen the ligaments and surrounding structures to gradually move your teeth, your gums and bones will be a little out of alignment for a while. Retainers help normalize their new positions.
Why You Should Clean Your Retainer
Your retainer will accumulate bacteria, which can turn into plaque and tartar, after just a few uses. Without being cleaned, the contents of your mouth will eventually harden on your retainer, making it uncomfortable, unhygienic, and potentially ineffective at doing its job.
Cleaning your retainer is just as important for the safety of your teeth as brushing and flossing. It may be difficult to know exactly how to clean it though, especially if you haven’t done it in a while (or ever).
How to Clean Retainers
Tip #1: Drink plenty of water
An indirect way to clean your retainer is to drink plenty of water both when the retainer is in your mouth and when you take it out to eat or play sports. Just washing off the top layer of food debris and sugar from your teeth can take the edge off the residue that will eventually damage your retainer.
Tip #2: Brush it
One of the best ways to stay ahead of your retainer’s condition is to brush it with toothpaste as though it was a second set of teeth. Use a soft toothbrush and non-whitening toothpaste to brush the inside and outside of the appliance before putting it back in.
Tip #3: Get some denture cleaner
Denture cleaner isn’t just for seniors. It can also be used as a rinse for your retainer. Let it soak in the solution for around 20 minutes and then brush it with your toothbrush until the taste of the cleaner is gone.
Tip #4: Use baking soda
Baking soda is well-known as a disinfectant and can be used as a harsher solution for cleaning your retainer, especially if you’ve let it go so far that it’s started yellowing. Make a paste using half baking soda and half water (it should be thick enough to spread without pouring off). Then scrub it with a toothbrush and rinse until it looks clear again.
Tip #5: Use mouthwash
Mouthwash isn’t just good for cleaning your teeth. Its plaque-fighting abilities can also be used to clean a retainer. Not that since mouthwash contains alcohol, it can dry out and eventually damage your retainer if you leave it in for too long.
Choose Reese Orthodontics
If you’re an adult who is considering braces, you need professional advice on your treatment and payment options. For orthodontic treatments in Charleston, SC, Reese Orthodontics offers the latest technology and treatment plans. Our advanced and comfortable orthodontic treatments can be customized to suit your needs. A consultation with Reese Orthodontics includes scans, a comprehensive exam, and a conversation with the orthodontist to discover which treatment options are right for you.
Schedule an appointment with us today to stay ahead of your oral health and receive the best possible treatment in your area.