Congratulations! After a journey of a year or more, you’re finally here: you no longer have braces, you’ve got smooth, straight teeth, and you’re holding a case with a brand new retainer. That’s right, even though your braces are off and you’re ready to celebrate, the journey isn’t over – now it’s time to take the next step toward maintaining your hard-earned grin.
It is not enough to wear braces to create a beautiful smile. If you want to keep that smile, you’ve got to be consistent about wearing your retainer. Just like braces, it is important to learn how to take care of them properly so that your smile stays straight and solid. Retainers are maintainers, after all! That’s why Beim Orthodontics is giving you the ultimate guidebook for how to take care of your retainer. Let’s dive in.
Clean Your Retainer Properly and Consistently
Consistency is the name of the retainer game. That goes for cleaning your retainer as well. Whereas keeping your braces clean might have come more naturally to you since you already brush your teeth twice a day, cleaning your retainer may take some time to get used to, and there are multiple different steps to doing so.
Don’t brush your retainer the same way you brush your teeth! While this statement may seem counterintuitive, brushing your retainer with toothpaste can break down the material and open up deposits that allow bacteria to grow. Instead, Beim Orthodontics recommends that you opt for a white vinegar solution. By cleaning your retainer at least once per week with white vinegar, not only will you keep your device from drying out, but the vinegar will also kill the bacteria that can age the retainer or cause bad breath. Set a reminder every week to help yourself remember this additional step to your weekly routine! The extra care you put in is sure to pay off in the long run.
Additionally, retainers last the longest when they are kept in a moist environment. Dry air will age your retainer, so it is necessary to soak your device when you are not wearing it. Dr. Beim suggests using a solution of distilled water and baking soda for soaking. Ideally, however, the retainer should stay on your teeth as often as possible, keeping your retainer naturally moist.
Apply, Wear, and Remove Your Retainer Carefully
Wearing your retainer appropriately is so important to the overall usability of your retainer. Any time you have your retainer in, make sure that it fits snugly over your teeth.
Retainers are meant to be worn practically 24 hours a day, but you should take them out when you clean your teeth in the morning and night, when you play sports, and when you eat to ensure that it stands the test of time.
Although it may feel tempting to attempt to remove or play with your retainer with the tip of your tongue, Dr. Beim warns you not to fall into that habit. If you want to keep your retainer useful in the long run, it is absolutely essential that you learn how to remove it properly. Use both hands to gently and steadily pull the retainer away from your teeth. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask Dr. Beim on your next visit!
Keep Your Retainer in a Safe Place
We’ve all heard horror stories about patients who accidentally wrap their retainer in a napkin on the table of a restaurant, just to get up, forget the retainer, and find that the waiter or waitress has thrown it away. It happens from time to time, but learning from the experience of that friend we know is our best tool to make sure it doesn’t happen to us.
One of the best tools you have at your disposal to make sure you don’t lose your retainer is your retainer case. Make it a habit to bring it with you wherever you go so that you can easily place your retainer inside when you head into football practice or take a pit stop at the food court. This will help you avoid misplacing your device. You’ll thank us for this advice later.
You also want to keep your retainer away from your pets. It may seem gross to us, but pets are often attracted to the smell of the saliva left on retainers when we remove them. You don’t want your retainer to wind up in your dog’s mouth when it is supposed to be in your own! Keep that case handy and you shouldn’t have any problems.
Keep Going to Your Follow-Up Visits!
We want to continue to see your bright, shining new smile! It is so important to the care of your device and the maintenance of your teeth that you keep showing up to follow-up visits. This helps your orthodontic team know if any adjustments are needed or if it is time to replace your retainer. It also provides you with the opportunity to keep an open line of communication with Dr. Beim as any questions or concerns with your new retainer pop up.
Beim Orthodontics: Here For Your Smile
With a friendly team of experts at your side, you’ll know that you are in the right place. At Beim Orthodontics, we pride ourselves on patient experience by ensuring that every team member is knowledgeable and attentive throughout the entire orthodontic process.
If you’ve been considering getting started on your own smile success story, contact Beim Orthodontics for a free consultation today!