You’ve spent months, maybe even years, wearing braces so you can finally enjoy your beautifully straight smile. The last thing you want to do is have all that time wasted by allowing your gorgeous teeth to revert back to their less-than-perfect ways!
The solution: orthodontic retainers.
Retainers are an essential tool in preserving your beautiful smile. But what about preserving your retainer…?
Not to worry, this simple guide details all the most important details of basic retainer care so you can keep your retainer in tip-top shape, and your teeth looking their best.
Retainer Care: A Few Basic Rules
Caring for your retainer will be much more easily done if you know how to keep it in good condition, to begin with.
A few basic rules of thumb for protecting your retainer include:
1. Never Wear Your Retainer While Brushing Your Teeth
Doing this will not only prevent you from getting your teeth entirely clean, but it will make brushing all sides of your retainer impossible.
It may seem like a faster or more convenient way of cleaning your retainer, but it will actually do both your teeth and retainer a disservice by leaving them with an incomplete cleaning.
2. Never Eat While Wearing Your Retainer
The more popular clear retainers now can be tempting to wear while you’re eating. After all, no one likes to pause a conversation or meal so they can pop their retainer out before digging in.
Still, better to find a private moment before eating to remove your retainer so you avoid damaging it with food.
Wearing a retainer while eating or drinking anything other than water is a recipe for tooth problems. You’re more likely to trap food and plaque against your teeth and leave your retainer in a filthy state.
3. Be Mindful of Where You Store Your Retainer
Another good rule of thumb is to be choosey about where you keep your retainer. This applies not only to daytime when you may not be wearing it but also to meal times when you might have to remove it temporarily.
Too often the unfortunate incident has occurred where someone has taken their retainer out to eat or drink, wrapped it up in a napkin for “safekeeping,” only to have it tossed out with the garbage.
If you accidentally give your retainer a toss into the garbage, SportingSmiles can come to the rescue. We offer high-quality Essix retainers at a fraction of the cost, perfect for replacement or backup retainers.
Little is more disgusting than having to rummage through a cafe or family garbage can in order to find your lost retainer.
Being prepared with a retainer case when you go out, and having a properly ventilated place to store it at home, are both good ways of protecting your retainer from getting lost and becoming exposed to germs and bacteria.
You may assume that something that spends so much time inside your mouth would need to be sanitized often with alcohol or some other harsh cleaning agents.
Actually, the opposite is the case.
You do need to clean your retainer regularly, but because of the delicate plastic and/or metals, a retainer is made with, using alcohol or harsh cleaning products could potentially corrode or damage your retainer.
The Best Way to Clean Your Retainer
Perhaps the best way of keeping your retainer clean and fresh is the simplest: brush with toothpaste.
Just like your teeth, your retainer will receive a sufficient cleaning with a simple toothbrush, some toothpaste, and a bit of warm water.
Just be sure, (again), to remove the retainer before brushing it.
Tartar can build-up on a retainer if you do not brush regularly. So, to avoid build-up that becomes more difficult to remove over time, it’s best to brush your retainer every time you remove it for long periods of time.
Think, right after a full night’s sleep. Before bed-time, or any time you may feel it’s looking at all like it needs some freshening up.
Other Good Retainer Cleaning Methods
If toothpaste and water aren’t enough, there are a few other substances you can use to safely clean your retainer.
You can use anything from denture tablets to a solution of mild vinegar and water, to water and baking soda. Each of these substances is milder and will be effective at cleaning your retainer without doing it harm.
What to Avoid When Caring for Your Retainer
While a solution of mild vinegar and water can work for cleaning, even vinegar can corrode certain retainers. So, when in doubt, check with your orthodontist or your retainer manufacturer about proper care.
Be sure to never use bleach to clean your retainer. Just as with alcohol, bleach is very harsh and will weaken or even completely destroy your retainer.
Placing your retainer in mouthwash is another bad idea when it comes to proper retainer care. Because of the high alcohol content, mouthwash is too harsh for the materials.
The last major cleaning method to avoid is boiling your retainer. Sure, you may have boiled an athletic mouthguard when you purchased it, to get the right fit, but boiling a retainer once fitted to your mouth is never a good idea.
Again, over-heating ruins the plastic and metal used to create quality retainers.
With this in mind, be sure not to leave your retainer somewhere where it is exposed to extreme heat. Keep it out of the direct sun, a hot car, or near a stovetop.
Weirdly enough, even leaving your retainer out on your bathroom counter is a bad idea. This leaves it exposed to bacteria, germs, and even pets that are often attracted to the smell of mouth-gear.
With proper retainer care and proper retainer wear, your straight pearly-whites will last a lifetime.
Of course, keeping your teeth straight is just the beginning of good oral health. See how mouthguards and retainers can help your teeth with everything from safe whitening to preventing nighttime grinding.
For answers to your questions about oral care, contact us today and take one step closer to achieving the smile of your dreams.