Your Guide to Wearing a Retainer

Having to wear a retainer after you get your braces off can definitely be frustrating, but it is a very necessary extra step. Even after a full treatment with braces, your teeth will start to shift a little again after the braces are taken off. When you wear retainer, your teeth are held in their new positions for longer which will ultimately give you better results.

Some orthodontic patients need to just wear one retainer on the bottom or on the top, but some patients might need both. Typically at first, you will wear the retainer all day long and then you will most likely only have to wear it at night to sleep. Keep in mind that each individual treatment plan is different.

Types of Retainers

Retainers generally come in two types, removable and fixed. The removable kind are usually worn for about a year, while the fixed retainer may be worn for several years. Fixed retainers are adhered to the backs of your teeth using cement.

Retainers are typically made of:

  • Acrylic – These are the most common type of retainers. They are made of bendable wire and acrylic and are adjustable. They also come in different colors and styles
  • Clear – These are made of molded clear plastic that fits over your teeth. Because these are less noticeable they are a popular choice, especially for adults.

What Can You Expect

Like when you were wearing braces, with the retainers, your teeth may feel pressure and you may experience some soreness as your mouth adjusts to the retainer. If the retainer causes you pain though or cuts into your gums, then let your orthodontist know. It probably needs some readjustment.

Expect your speech to be affected for the first few days. Try talking at a slower speed until you get used to the feel of the retainers in your mouth. Reading aloud for a few minutes a day can also help. The retainer may also stimulate an increased saliva production in your mouth those first few days. Don’t worry, all of this is expected.

The key to great results from your time in retainers is to take care of them properly. It goes without saying that for best results you should follow all the instructions that your orthodontist gives you. Your retainers are custom made so it is important to follow all the instructions to the T.

Taking Care of Your Retainer

Keep your retainer clean and fresh. Your retainer is going to end up with a lot plaque, bacteria and leftover food particles stuck on it, an expected hazard of being in your mouth all day, so it is important to always keep your retainer clean and fresh.

When caring for your acrylic retainer, make sure to rinse it out several times a day with warm water to get rid of the bacteria build up. Also make sure you disinfect it at least once a week by soaking it in distilled water with some baking soda or a little drop of castile soap.

You can also create a paste with baking soda to use to scrub the appliance. Just mix equal parts baking soda and water until it forms a paste. Then put the paste on a toothbrush and gently scrub the retainer. The baking soda will help increase the pH of your mouth.

Things to avoid with this type of retainer include putting them in the dishwasher or boiling water and cleaning with regular toothpaste or harsh cleaners or chemicals.

Care for the clear aligner/retainer is a little different. Still rinse it out with warm water every time you remove it, but then use a drop of dish soap on a soft bristle toothbrush to really scrub them. Make sure to work the soap into a lather for best results. Clean the aligner inside and out, getting all the crevices. After you are done cleaning, rinse the aligner with warm water before putting it back into your mouth.

Do not ever use toothpaste on your retainers because it will scratch it up and affect the look of the retainer causing you embarrassment when you smile. Also do not put in boiling water. To avoid staining, never eat with the retainers on.
When your retainers are not in your mouth, keep them in a case to keep them from getting scratched up or lost. Always be mindful of where you put them when you take them out of your mouth. Keep them safely away from any family pets or small children and don’t stick the case in the pocket of your pants or jacket where it can easily fall out. Never just leave your retainer next to your plate while eating. It can too easily just be swept up with all the dirty dishes and trash.

Other Reasons for Retainers

There are other uses for retainers. They are used to shift a gap between teeth or when there is just a single tooth that needs to be shifted. They are even used to treat jaw issues like temporomandibular disorder.

Practicing good oral hygiene is also essential to protect your smile. Make sure you are brushing and flossing your teeth regularly and keeping your retainer clean to prevent cavities and gum disease. Make sure you also go for your regular dental cleanings as well while you are wearing the retainer. What you do today can have an impact on your long term oral health, which is also connected to your overall health.

The ultimate goal is a healthier, more beautiful smile so never forget that. Be committed to keeping your teeth and retainers clean and doing everything your orthodontist instructs you to do. The hard work will pay off and you will have a healthier and happier you. Take care of your retainer and it will take care of you.

For more information about retainers and how to take care of them, call Orthodontics Limited today. They will help you set up a free consultation and get you on the road to the smile you have always wanted.