By far, the most common question your Milwaukie, Oregon orthodontist at Senestraro Family Orthodontics hears from patients is – “when will my braces come off?”
While every patient would like to fast forward to the time when their orthodontic treatment is complete, the removal of your braces isn’t the end. Most every patient will need to wear a retainer for some period of time. While the exact amount of time patients need to wear their retainer varies – lasting anywhere from a few months to one or more years – wearing and taking care of your retainer is just as important as caring for your braces.
During your treatment, the wires and brackets of your braces slowly pull your teeth into the desired position to help straighten your smile. Once your braces are removed, your teeth will have a natural tendency to slide back to their original position. By wearing your retainer, you prevent your teeth from shifting back out of place until enough time has passed that your teeth settle into position.
Failing to wear your braces on a daily basis can seriously undermine all of the hard work and effort you spent while wearing your orthodontic appliance. Not only can failing to wear your braces damage the appearance of your great looking new smile, it can also waste all of the time and money spent on wearing braces. So despite the temptation you may feel to ignore wearing your retainer, know that your orthodontic treatment isn’t yet complete.
To make sure your retainer lasts a long time, it’s important that you follow a few simple steps. Your retainer is custom-made to exactly fit your smile, so the better you take care of it, the better it will take care of your smile. With that in mind, here are four easy to remember steps when it comes to caring for your retainer.
Remove Your Retainer Before Eating
Always remove your retainer before eating. Not only will this make it easier for you to chew and enjoy your food, it will also prevent food and plaque from becoming trapped in and along your retainer. Make sure to carry your retainer case with you, and to place your retainer in the case during meals. Never wrap your retainer in a napkin or paper towel – you or someone else may mistakenly throw it away!
Always Clean Before Storing
It’s important that you brush and rinse your retainer regularly. This helps to remove tartar buildup from the surface of your retainer. You can use a regular toothbrush and toothpaste to clean your retainer, or you can soak it in a glass of water with denture cleaner. If you don’t have to wear your retainer every day, all day, store it in a container with plenty of airflow so if doesn’t breed bacteria or become moldy.
Don’t Clean Using Harsh Chemicals
You can properly clean your retainer by only using water and toothpaste. When letting your retainer soak, you can add denture tablets, baking soda, or mild vinegar to the water. Never use an alcohol-based mouthwash or bleach to clean your retainer. These products can damage the plastic, and the health of your mouth. Boiling your retainer is also a no-go, as it can warp the metal and melt the plastic.
Remove Your Retainer While Brushing
While this is just common sense, you should always remove your retainer while brushing. Leaving it in will cause you to miss large areas of your mouth, and the toothbrush may inadvertently displace the retainer. Remove your retainer, floss, and then brush, instead. Once you’ve finished cleaning your retainer, return it to an open air container to dry or place it back in your mouth.
Your Milwaukie, Oregon orthodontist at Senestraro Family Orthodontics understands that every patient gets excited once his or her braces come off. Just remember, don’t undo all of your hard work by ignoring your retainer. Keep it clean, wear it regularly and you’ll enjoy your great looking new smile for a lifetime.