As a provider of orthodontics for kids in Wilsonville, OR, the one question our team at Senestraro Family Orthodontics hears all the time from patients is, “When do my braces come off?”
While getting their braces off is certainly an exciting time for many of our younger patients, it’s not actually the end of their orthodontic treatment. Most patients will need to wear a retainer in order to protect the progress made by their braces.
Orthodontic treatment helps to gradually guide a patient’s teeth into the desired position. However, once in place, teeth have a tendency to shift back to their original position unless a retainer is used.
Making sure a patient’s retainer lasts throughout the time Dr. Senestraro recommends they wear it means taking care of it properly.
The better you care for your retainer, the better it will work to protect your beautiful new smile.
To help keep your retainer from breaking, here are a few helpful tips on how to care of a retainer.
Remove It Before Eating
Make sure to remove your retainer before eating so that you don’t allow plaque and food particles to remain trapped underneath.
Additionally, you can also damage your retainer if wearing it while eating, especially when consuming harder foods like steak, corn on the cob, or nuts.
To keep your retainer clean and safe during meals, it’s a good idea to carry a retainer case with you. Slipping your retainer in the case while eating is a great way to keep it clean and avoid any unintentional mishaps.
Never wrap your retainer in a napkin or tissue while you eat. You or someone else may inadvertently throw it away.
Always Clean Your Retainer Before Putting It Away
Leaving a dirty retainer in a case is a great way to help grow germs and bacteria that could make the wearer sick.
Plaque – a sticky bacteria that contributes to the development of tooth decay – also thrives in cold, wet, and dark environments. As a result, forgetting to clean your retainer could increase your risk of cavities.
To make sure your retainer stays clean, you need to rinse and brush it daily. This helps to remove plaque buildup and eliminate any harmful bacteria that could make you sick.
You can use toothpaste and a toothbrush to clean your retainer or you can soak your retainer in a glass of water mixed with baking soda.
If you don’t have to wear your retainer every day and night, make sure you dry it off before you store it so it doesn’t breed mold and bacteria.
Don’t Clean It Using Chemicals
Water, toothpaste, and baking soda are all you need to use when keeping your retainer clean. Never use an alcohol-based mouthwash or bleach to clean your retainer. These types of products can not only harm the plastic; they can cause serious damage to your mouth.
Also, never boil your retainer. Boiling will melt the plastic and warp the metal wiring.
Take It Out Before Brushing
While you might think that brushing your teeth while wearing your retainer is a two-for-one – cleaning your teeth and retainer at the same time – you’ll actually fail to clean either very effectively.
Wearing your retainer will cause you to miss large areas of your teeth while brushing, and the toothbrush may accidentally displace the retainer.
Instead, floss and brush after taking your retainer out, and then take a few minutes to clean your retainer separately.
If you have any questions on the best practices for taking care of your retainer, be sure to ask Dr. Senestraro during your next appointment. As a provider of orthodontics for kids in Wilsonville, OR, he’ll be happy to answer.