Retainers need to be cared for. As with any dental equipment, it’s important to ensure that your retainer is clean, stored properly when you’re not wearing it and protected. If you’re a first-time retainer wearer, you’ll see that caring for the device is actually quite easy. You’re already brushing and flossing your teeth daily, so it’ll be a breeze to incorporate retainer care into your oral hygiene routine.
No matter what you are eating, you need to remove your retainer before you eat it. If you do not take your retainer out before sitting down to a meal, you will get food stuck in it. Retainer hardware is heavy-duty, but it is no match for hard, sticky or chunky foods. If you eat with your retainer in, you risk damaging it.
If you’re someone who plays sports, dances, exercises, swims or does any other form of physical activity, you should remove your retainer beforehand. If you play full-contact sports like hockey or football, ask your orthodontist about being fitted for a protective mouthguard. Any time there is a chance for injury to the mouth and face, you should wear a mouthguard.
Retainer storage is an important aspect of retainer care. Whenever you remove your retainer, it’s imperative that you store it properly. Your retainer will come with a special case, and that is the only place you should be storing your retainer.
You must clean your retainer regularly as it is exposed to the same bacteria and plaque the rest of your mouth is. Retainers that aren’t cleaned not only smell horrible but will become a breeding ground for germs. Treat your retainer like your actual teeth and brush it gently with a soft toothbrush. Your orthodontist will tell you which type of toothpaste you can use to brush your retainer. They will also recommend an alcohol-free mouthwash or cleaning agent for you to soak your retainer in for added cleanliness.
Your orthodontist will give you specific instructions on when you need to wear your retainer. If you are told to wear it at all times, it’s important that you do so because if not you will hinder the stabilization process. The goal of wearing a retainer is to allow your jawbone and gums to settle around your teeth to create a sound alignment.