The day your braces come off is a time to celebrate. While it feels good to be able to eat your favorite foods and show off your beautiful smile, you should also keep in mind that this does not mean that your orthodontic treatment is over. A retainer is frequently prescribed following the removal of braces to help keep your teeth in their new alignment until the ligaments in your jaw strengthen.
For some people, retainers must be worn for a few years, while others may need to wear them longer. Knowing how to care for your retainer helps you avoid mishaps such as broken wires so that you can preserve your newly straightened smile.
Know When to Remove the Retainer
At first, you may be told to wear your retainer for the majority of the day until you are able to switch to wearing it only at night. Try to stick to this schedule since this is the best way to keep your teeth in the right places.
However, you do need to remove the retainer when you eat or before you play contact sports to prevent damage to the appliance. Talk to your dentist about your normal daily activities so that they can help you know when to remove your retainer. For instance, you may also need to remove it before you swim or play a musical instrument.
Use the Storage Case
When you need to remove your appliance, use your hands to gently release it from your mouth. Try to avoid flicking it with your tongue or using rough movements that could break it.
Once it is out of your mouth, place it in the storage case. Avoid wrapping it in a napkin since this could cause it to be mistaken for trash. The storage case is also designed to protect your retainer from mild bumps better than a napkin could.
Watch Out for Pets and Kids
A retainer attractive to young children and pets that are often tempted to play with them out of curiosity. Once your retainer is safely stored in the proper container, make sure to set it in a place where it is inaccessible to your pet or sibling. If you do find it in a pet’s mouth or a child’s hands, have it inspected for damage before wearing it again since it might have been bent out of shape.
Clean It Properly
The combination of saliva and food particles in your mouth creates build up on your retainer that must be removed to protect your oral health. Follow the recommendations provided by your dentist for cleaning the retainer.
Typically, this involves rinsing it off when you remove it from your mouth and using gentle toothpaste to brush residue off of the appliance each day. In some cases, you may also need to soak the retainer in a cleaning solution to remove bacterial build up.
Avoid Exposure to Heat
The plastic and metal used to make your retainer is designed to be durable. Yet, retainers can become warped if they are exposed to heat. Never wash your retainer in the dishwasher, and avoid storing it near heated appliances such as your hair straightener.
You will also need to take your retainer with you rather than leaving it in the car if you remove it for events such as a sports competition or a dinner out.
Proper retainer care helps you get the most out of your appliance since it prevents you from having to wait for a repair or a new one to be made. While it does require adding a few more steps to your daily routine, the effort is worth it every time you get to flash your amazing smile.