How to Take Care of Your Retainer

Retainers are Maintainers

Here you are, you made it. Look in the mirror, take it all in, and heave a sigh of relief because, after months (or even years), you’ve finally gotten your braces off. But wait, there’s more! Now you’re holding a brand new retainer case, and inside: your new best friend for the foreseeable future. 

That’s because, at Smiles of Palmetto Bay, we have a motto: retainers are maintainers. While the most difficult part of your smile success story is over, the next step for your oral health is to make sure you don’t lose any of the progress you’ve made. And just like with braces, retainers come with their own set of rules and instructions for keeping them clean, safe, and long-lasting. That’s why we have put together the ultimate how-to guide for taking care of your retainer. Let’s dive in.

Wear Your Retainer!

Okay, we know this is a little obvious. But did you know that in as little as a few days after getting your braces off, your teeth could begin to shift back to their original positions? We know you don’t want those years of hard work going to waste, so the most important thing on this list is to wear your retainer. 

This isn’t just for keeping your teeth straight, though. Wearing your retainer keeps your retainer functioning at its best because it ensures that it stays relevant to the positioning of your teeth. If your teeth shift, your retainer might not fit anymore – and that means it’s time to get a new retainer. 

Clean Your Retainer Properly and Consistently 

Consistency is the name of the retainer game. That goes for cleaning your retainer as well. Whereas keeping your braces clean might have come more naturally to you since you already brush your teeth twice a day, cleaning your retainer may take some time to get used to and there are multiple different steps to doing so. 

Don’t brush your retainer the same way you brush your teeth! While this statement may seem counterintuitive, brushing your retainer with toothpaste can break down the material and open up deposits that allow bacteria to grow. Instead, our doctors recommend that you opt for a white vinegar solution. By cleaning your retainer at least once per week with white vinegar, not only will you keep your device from drying out, but the vinegar will also kill the bacteria that can age the retainer or cause bad breath. Set a reminder every week to help yourself remember this additional step to your weekly routine! The extra care you put in is sure to pay off in the long run. 

Additionally, retainers last the longest when they are kept in a moist environment. Dry air will age your retainer, so it is necessary to soak your device when you are not wearing it. The Palmetto Bay team suggests using a solution of distilled water and baking soda for soaking. Ideally, however, the retainer should stay on your teeth as often as possible, keeping your retainer moist naturally. Never forget our first rule!

How to Take Care of Your Retainer

Apply, Wear, and Remove Your Retainer Carefully

Wearing your retainer appropriately is vital to the overall usability of your retainer. Any time you have your retainer in, make sure that it fits snugly over your teeth. 

Retainers are meant to be worn practically 24 hours a day, but you should take it out when you clean your teeth in the morning and night, when you play sports, and when you eat to ensure that it stands the test of time. 

Although it may feel tempting to try to remove your retainer with the tip of your tongue, our doctors warn you not to fall into that habit. If you want to keep your retainer useful in the long run, it is absolutely essential that you learn how to remove it properly. Use both hands to gently and steadily pull the retainer away from your teeth. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask one of the doctors on your next visit!

Keep Your Retainer in a Safe Place

We’ve all heard horror stories about patients who accidentally wrapped their retainer in a napkin on the table of a restaurant just to get up, forget the retainer, and find that the waiter or waitress had already thrown it away. It happens from time to time, but learning from the experience of that friend we know is our best tool to make sure it doesn’t happen to us. 

One of the best tools you have at your disposal to make sure you don’t lose your retainer is your retainer case. Make it a habit to bring it with you wherever you go so that you can easily place your retainer inside when you head into football practice or take a pit stop at the food court. This will help you avoid misplacing your device – you’ll thank us later. 

Similarly, keep your retainer away from your pets. It may seem gross to us, but pets are often attracted to the smell of the saliva left on retainers when we remove them. You don’t want your retainer to wind up in your dog’s mouth when it is supposed to be in your own! Keep that case handy and you shouldn’t have any problems. 

Keep Going to Your Follow-Up Visits!

We want to continue to see your bright, shining new smile! It is so important to the care of your device and the maintenance of your teeth that you keep showing up to follow-up visits. This helps your orthodontic team know if any adjustments are needed or if it is time to replace your retainer. It also provides you an opportunity to keep an open line of communication with your Smiles of Palmetto Bay team as any questions or concerns with your new retainer pop up. 

How to Take Care of Your Retainer

Smiles of Palmetto Bay is Here For Your Smile

With a friendly team of experts at your side, you’ll know that you are in the right place. At Smiles of Palmetto Bay, we pride ourselves on patient experience by ensuring that every team member is knowledgeable and attentive throughout the entire orthodontic process. 

If you’ve been considering getting started on your own smile success story, contact Smiles of Palmetto Bay for a free consultation today!