Cleaning and caring for retainers

The day your braces come off is a very exciting time! You finally get to see the results of your orthodontic treatment and enjoy your beautiful new smile. However, it is important to remember that there’s more to do to ensure your smile stays aligned.

At the end of your orthodontic treatment, we will give you a set of retainers to keep your new smile in place. Your teeth have a natural tendency to shift out of place over time, so it’s necessary to wear a retainer consistently to keep your results.

Just as you did with your braces or Invisalign®, you will need to properly clean and care for your retainer. Practicing good retainer care will protect your braces investment for years to come.

Learn more about how to clean retainers, how to take care of retainers, and how they work to safeguard your smile alignment.

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How to clean retainers

Once your initial treatment period is over, we will recommend a type of retainer that will best fit your lifestyle and your needs. We give clear, removable Essix retainers to the majority of our patients. In special circumstances, we may recommend a permanent retainer.

It’s crucial to clean your retainer twice daily, as it will quickly become a breeding ground for bacteria.

Here are some simple retainer care steps to add to your daily oral hygiene routine:

How to clean clear retainers

Essix removable retainers are easy to keep clean. We recommend using a toothbrush, lukewarm water, and a tiny dot of dish soap to gently scrub your retainer. Make sure you clean with small, circular motions, taking care to get into all the nooks and crannies.

While toothpaste might be okay for occasional cleaning, it can scratch or erode the material. Be sure to use only lukewarm water, as hot water can warp your retainers. Once you’ve finished, put them back in their case for safekeeping.

How to clean permanent retainers

Permanent retainers are bonded to the back of your teeth, making this type of retainer a bit trickier to keep clean. Taking a few extra minutes to clean your permanent retainer can stop the buildup of plaque and prevent gum disease, tooth decay, and other dental health issues.

While you are brushing your teeth, give a little extra attention to your bonded retainer. Be sure to gently brush around and in between the retainer and the teeth. Once you’re ready to floss, thread it through the teeth and under the wire. Gently floss between your teeth to dislodge any debris that might have been missed during brushing. Finally, rinse your mouth out with mouthwash or water, and you’re done!

Caring for your retainer

Properly cleaning your retainer is just one part of retainer care. Taking good care of your retainer is an important step in making them last for years to come.

When you protect and store your retainer carefully, you are also keeping your smile results in place. Here are some tips on good retainer care:

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  • Carry your retainer case with you wherever you go.
  • When you remove your retainer, be sure to place it in its case.
  • Do not place your retainer in a napkin. It may seem like a good idea, but we often see patients accidentally throw out their retainer this way.
  • Avoid exposing your retainers to heat or hot water. This can warp the plastic.
  • Keep retainers out of reach of children or pets.
  • Avoid using alcohol, bleach, or other chemical cleaners, as these will damage the plastic.

Understanding how to take care of retainers will ensure a lifetime of smiles

We love to see our patients enjoying their brand-new smiles! It’s important to remember that wearing a retainer is an essential part of ensuring a long-lasting smile. Plus, with proper cleaning and care, your retainer will last a long time.

Every three to five years, your retainer will need to be replaced. This can cost you $600 or more per set at other practices. But at Hess Orthodontics, our Lifetime Retainer Program lets you enjoy free retainers for life. You only need to pay $800 now, plus the cost of future co-pays!

If you have questions about retainer care and smile retention, contact us! We look forward to helping you on a journey to a beautiful smile.

Schedule a complimentary consultation with Hess Orthodontics today!