Congratulations on getting your braces off! Welcome to the next phase of maintaining your beautiful smile! It’s very important to faithfully follow your orthodontist’s instructions on retainer wear, especially in your first year after having your braces removed. In case you need a refresh on how to care for your beloved retainers, here it is!
Clear Retainers: Clear retainers require a little bit of special attention to maintain looking crystal clear.
- DO remove plaque and debris from your trays before re-inserting by using a clean toothbrush or rinsing with water (if you’re not at home).
- DO use a denture or retainer cleansing tablet to disinfect. Drop the tablet in warm (not boiling hot) water, let it dissolve, add retainers, then allow to sit for 3-5 minutes. Rinse and wear! Do this up to once a day, minimum 1x/week.
- DO NOT use toothpaste to clean! Toothpaste is slightly abrasive (to remove stains from your teeth) and will cloud your retainers over time.
Hawley Retainers: These “oldies but goodies” are also easy to care for:
- DO use the denture or retainer cleansing tablet, as directed above. Since these retainers have more nooks and crannies that can hold bacteria, they require using the cleansing tablets more frequently in order to avoid them from smelling bad. Yuck! Use the tablet at least every other day when wearing the retainers full time. Twice a week while wearing at night only should be fine!
- DO scrub them with a clean toothbrush. Don’t miss brushing all around the metal bars and on the bumpy inside of the plastic.
- DO NOT use toothpaste unless you want all those nooks and crannies to turn white. No one will see, but you will!
Bonded Retainers: These require the most attention to keep your teeth, gums, and retainer clean and in good condition.
- DO FLOSS at least once per day! Since it’s bonded to your teeth, you have to feed the floss under the wire like you did when you had braces. You can use a floss threader or use SuperFloss. If you neglect doing this tartar will quickly accumulate on the back of your teeth, which will cause gingivitis and, if left unattended to, periodontitis (the gum disease that results in irreversible bone loss, puffiness, and recession). It’s not so difficult- it’s just a few teeth!
- DO BRUSH the backs of your teeth very thoroughly at least 2x/day, angling the bristles all around your wire and into your gums at a 45 degree angle.
- DO regularly check your wire (easiest to do while flossing, hint hint!) to make sure it hasn’t broken off from any of the teeth. If it has, visit your orthodontist as soon as you can and wear your removable retainer to prevent teeth from shifting.
- DO NOT bite into apples, corn on the cob, or anything hard/crunchy if you have a bonded retainer on your upper teeth.