You’ve gotten your braces off or used the last of your Invisalign clear aligners, and you’re ready to show off your gorgeous, new smile! You may think that’s the end of your orthodontic journey, but you still have one important step left. You must wear your retainers! Why? Your retainers will help you keep that perfect smile perfectly straight.
At Fergus Orthodontics, we provide a set of retainers as part of your braces or Invisalign treatment. They’re designed to last you for years and keep your smile straight. However, you must properly take care of your retainers for them to last. We’re happy to tell you the best way to do that.
The Importance of Cleaning Your Retainers
Why is it so important to clean your retainers? A good rinse should be enough, right? Actually, it’s not. It would be the same to say that a quick rinse with some water would be enough to keep your teeth clean. We all know that’s not true. Plaque and bacteria would build up and cause tooth decay and gum disease. The same thing happens with your retainers.
Without proper cleaning, plaque and bacteria can build up on your retainers. That bacteria and plaque get put into your mouth each time you place your retainers in your mouth after meals. This can increase your chances of gum disease and tooth decay. You can also see a buildup of a type of yeast called Candida albicans, which can cause infections. You could have serious health issues if you don’t clean your retainers.
Types of Retainers
When we say “retainers,” what do we mean? We’re referring to devices that hold your teeth in place while your jaw hardens after treatment. Your jaw has spent several months breaking down and rebuilding so your teeth can move into position. However, now it has to stop, which takes several months to kick in fully. That’s why you need retainers.
There are three main types of retainers:
- Hawley Retainer — This is the traditional retainer most people picture when they hear “retainers.” A custom-molded acrylic mouthpiece holds wires that fit over your teeth to keep them in place. This retainer pops onto and off your teeth and can be removed for easy cleaning.
- Clear Retainers — These are often called Vivera, Essix, or clear retainers. They look similar to clear aligners, but they’re meant to keep your teeth in place rather than moving them. You can remove them for easy cleaning.
- Fixed Retainers — A wire is bonded permanently to the back of your teeth so they don’t move. It usually can’t be seen, but tartar can build up easily around the retainer because it’s not removable. Be extra vigilant to keep the area around the retainer clean and free of plaque.
Tips for Cleaning Your Retainers
You know it’s essential to clean your retainers, but it’s also important to clean your retainers properly. Improper cleaning won’t do much good. It could still allow bacteria to build up on your retainers.
Here are some tips on how best to clean your retainers.
- Rinse your retainers. Rinse your retainers each time you take them out and put them back in your mouth. Brush your teeth before you replace your retainers. At the very least, rinse your mouth with water very well to try to remove as many food particles as possible.
- Never use hot water. Never try to clean your retainers in hot water or the dishwasher. The extreme heat can warp or damage your retainers. Always use lukewarm water.
- Soak your retainers. Soak your retainers in a solution of warm water and retainer cleansing tablets, which are available at major retailers and pharmacies. Some denture tablets have abrasives and shouldn’t be used, particularly on clear retainers. They can make them look cloudy from microabrasions. Rinse your retainers thoroughly before you put them into your mouth.
- Use a soft-bristled brush or cotton swab. Use a cotton swab or a soft-bristled toothbrush to remove food particles or plaque trapped in crevices. Don’t use toothpaste! Abrasive material in the toothpaste can cause microabrasions that will turn them cloudy over time.
- Use safe cleaning alternatives. If cleaning tablets aren’t available, use white distilled vinegar, baking soda, or clear antibacterial soap diluted in lukewarm water to clean your retainers. Be sure to rinse them thoroughly before putting them in your mouth.
- Store your retainers properly. Storing your retainers guarantees you won’t lose them and protects them from getting dusty or dirty when out of your mouth. Even being out for a few minutes, your retainers can collect dust. There’s also a chance they could end up in the hands or mouths of small children or pets. So to keep them clean, keep them stored when they aren’t in your mouth.
Braces, Invisalign, and Retainers Treatment
Retainers are a vital part of your orthodontic treatment, just as important as braces or Invisalign. You’ll start by wearing your retainers at least 22 hours a day. As your jaw sets, that time may be lowered to 8 hours daily. For most patients, that means they can wear their retainers overnight.
If you’re in Jonesboro, AR, you can contact Fergus Orthodontics with questions about retainers or orthodontic treatment. If you’re ready to get started on your own perfect smile, start your journey with us by requesting a free consultation. We’ll help you decide whether braces or Invisalign is better for you, and we’ll let you know what to expect once it’s time to get those retainers!