Keep Your Retainer Healthy
Challenging, but worth it
You might be surprised by how many people say that the day they got their braces was one of the happiest days of their teen years. They might also say that the period during which they wore their wearing braces was challenging but worth it.
But most of those adolescents’ orthodontic care didn’t end when they were freed from braces. Next came a retainer! This phase of a teeth-straightening treatment is just as important as the braces themselves; it plays a key role in determining the overall success of a treatment. Braces create a beautiful smile, but the retainer maintains it. At the office of Kevin L. Carlton, DDS, MS, PA, here are some tips for the retainer-wearing phase.
- Wear it exactly as your orthodontist directs, and don’t skip any follow-up visits.
- The retainer should always be in your mouth or its box. Don’t leave it lying around, lest it gets lost or damaged.
- Carry your retainer box with you at all times; you will need to remove the retainers for certain activities, such as eating and playing sports.
- Put your name and phone number on the retainer box; if it gets lost, there’s a good chance you will get it back.
- When putting the retainer in your mouth, push it into place with your fingers. Don’t bite it into place, which could cause it to crack or bend.
- Don’t let it dry out. When you’re at home and not wearing it, soak it in a glass of antibacterial liquid. If you are away from home, store the retainer in its container, keeping it slightly moist with some damp cotton wool.
- Don’t put your retainer in a shirt or pants pocket. Besides forgetting its location, there is also a greater chance of damaging it. The wires are especially vulnerable to being bent or broken.
- Don’t use toothpaste on clear or transparent retainers. That will cause small scratches and make them less invisible.
- Expect small movements of your teeth over time, even with the retainer. It will eventually wear out and need to be replaced.
- Clean the retainer regularly by holding it under cool water and rubbing it with a toothbrush. (Never use hot water, as it can distort your appliance.)