In The Know: Retainer Care

What Is A Retainer?

When your braces are removed, you will need to wear a device called a retainer to hold your teeth in their new position. There are retainers that fit like a mouthguard, similar to a clear aligner and others that are made of metal wire and a plastic piece that fits snugly against the palate. In most cases, your retainer will be removable but there are also situations where a fixed retainer may be recommended.

How Long Do I Need To Wear A Retainer?

For the rest of your life! A retainer will be worn daily for an extended period at first, then it is recommended that you wear your retainer nightly to avoid orthodontic relapse.

Why Do I Need A Retainer After Orthodontic Treatment?

  • This is called the retention phase of treatment. Retainers are just as important as braces in the overall treatment plan. There are different types of retainers, and Dr. Hendrix will choose the right one that is perfect for you.
  • Retainers are extremely important after orthodontic treatment. Studies have shown that if retainers are not worn faithfully, teeth have a tendency to return to their original position after orthodontic treatment. This is called relapse. The more severe the original bite, the greater the tendency toward relapse. Periodontal (bone and gum) disease, mouth breathing, and harmful tongue or oral habits can also cause teeth to move.
  • To prevent relapse, retainers are worn after braces are removed to support and hold the teeth and jaws in their newly corrected position. Retainers provide the stabilization until the bones and gums adapt to treatment changes. If teeth are to remain in their ideal position, your cooperation is essential. Wearing retainers exactly as instructed is the best insurance that the treatment improvements will last a lifetime.

How Do I Clean My Retainer?

  • Drink Water Throughout The Day
    • Water will not clean a retainer on its own, but drinking plenty of water during the day can prevent bacterial overgrowth.
  • Toothpaste
    • When brushing teeth, people should brush their retainer as well. It is best to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-whitening toothpaste. Afterward, remove the retainer and rinse it thoroughly.
  • Baking Soda
    • Baking soda is a safe, all-purpose disinfectant. It may also help whiten retainers that have yellowed. Baking soda controls bacteria without harsh chemicals and can prevent a retainer from developing pH imbalances that harm the mouth.
  • Castile Soap
    • Castile soap is less toxic than many other cleaning products. People can make their own with a solution of olive oil and coconut soap, but castile soap is readily available at most stores. To clean a retainer with castile soap, people should add a small amount to warm water. They can then dip the retainer into the mixture and scrub it with a toothbrush.

Schedule An Appointment

If you would you like to explore your treatment options, visit one of our convenient Hendrix Orthodontic locations. To schedule an appointment, contact us or request an appointment online.