Your orthodontist will give you specific instructions on how often you should be wearing your retainer, but most patients are required to wear it eight hours each night.
Keep Your Smile Straight after Treatment with a Retainer
Getting your braces removed is an exciting time because you’re finally able to see and show off your new smile! But even though your teeth look straight and healthy, you will still be required to wear a retainer to ensure they remain in place.
You may be thinking that a retainer seems pointless. You just spent all this time wearing braces, why would you need to wear another appliance afterward?
Retainers are vital for the health of your teeth after braces. Although braces have shifted your teeth into a healthier position, the gum fibers around them have memory from when your teeth were misaligned, and without a retainer, the teeth could begin to move back. There are other variables that contribute to tooth shifting, such as muscle tone of tongue, bone volume around teeth, and the overall tonicity of your chewing muscles.
A retainer keeps your teeth from moving out of place and ensures proper position for years to come. Even if you have optimal dental health, our office recommends some type of retainer wear for life. Everything in life requires maintenance, and keeping your teeth straight is no different.
How to Avoid Damaging Your Retainer
Your orthodontist has molded your retainer to fit snugly around your teeth and hold them in place. Since it is made of plastic, your retainer can easily change shape if it gets too hot. A retainer that doesn’t fit is uncomfortable and can affect the alignment of your teeth, so be sure to keep it out of hot water and don’t leave it in a hot car.
Retainers can look like chew toys to many pets, so be sure to keep yours out of reach of your cats, dogs, or any other animals that may chew on it. Toddlers have also been known to damage retainers, so store yours high enough that little fingers can grab it.
Cleaning Your Retainer
Keeping your retainer clean is just as important as brushing and flossing your teeth. Leftover food or liquid stuck on a retainer can cause bacteria and plaque to grow on your teeth, eventually causing cavities. We recommend brushing your retainer once a day with a separate toothbrush and liquid hand soap and rinsing thoroughly.