After you’ve had your braces removed, a retainer is needed to keep the results of your orthodontic treatment. If you don’t use them, any formerly crooked teeth that have been corrected by braces may return to their old positions. This is known as a relapse.
To fix a relapse, you may need to wear a new set of braces and your treatment will be undermined. That’s why it’s important to wear your retainer as instructed by your orthodontist. Here’s how you can take proper care of your retainer.
Clean the Retainer Regularly
Before you go to bed, carefully scrub your retainer using your toothbrush and some water. Don’t use any harsh chemicals as this can dissolve or damage the plastic. Avoid immersing the retainer in hot or boiling water. Never run hot water through it either—the high temperature can melt the plastic or warp the metal wires. If you need to disinfect your retainer, soak it in a glass with a mixture of white vinegar and baking soda or use a specialized cleaner.
Keep it Away from Heat
Don’t make the mistake of leaving your retainer exposed to the sun. When outdoors, keep the device in its case and place it in a bag. Don’t leave your retainer close to heaters, fireplaces, or in your warm car—especially not on the dashboard on a hot day.
Keep it Away from Pets
Curiosity might get the better of your pets, and they might think your retainer is a human chew toy. Store your retainer well away from your pets’ reach. Remember that depending on the kind of retainer you have, it may prove costly to replace it every time Rover gets playful.
Don’t Wrap it in a Napkin
Keep your retainer’s case handy and always place the retainer in it when not in use. Don’t make it a habit to wrap the thing in a table napkin. If you’re in a restaurant, you or a member of the wait staff could mistakenly throw the retainer away! If you lose your retainer, you’re going to have to go back to your orthodontist or visit another orthodontics clinic in San Mateo for a replacement.
Attach or Remove it the Right Way
When removing your retainer before eating or sleeping, don’t yank it out forcefully. Loosen your retainer in several points, then carefully extract it from your mouth. Don’t twist the retainer with your tongue or pull it on one side; doing this could deform the retainer. When putting it on, make sure that there is no gap between the teeth or the roof of your mouth and the supporting structure.
Brush your Teeth Before and After Using the Retainer
Make it a habit to brush your teeth before wearing your retainer first thing in the morning, and then brushing before you retire at night. Your teeth should be clean when you wear it to avoid having any food particles getting stuck in your retainer, and then attracting bacteria and causing tooth decay. Doing this should be easy enough, as you are only adding a step to your daily oral hygiene routine.
Taking good care of your retainer is important since your teeth can relapse and go back to their old position. If that happens, you’ll have to be re-fitted with braces, and this will waste both the time and money you spent on your last orthodontic treatment.