At your last Invisalign appointment, you can’t help but look forward to life without dental devices. However, your orthodontic care doesn’t end when the clear aligners are removed. To preserve your hard-earned results, you must wear a retainer for the rest of your life. If you neglect to do so, your teeth could move back into their original pre-orthodontic positions. Aside from consistently wearing your retainer, you must also take proper care of it. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Regularly Clean It
Like your teeth, make sure you regularly clean your retainer to eliminate tartar that can build up on the surface. After each use, carefully scrub it with a toothbrush and some water. But don’t use toothpaste! It can be abrasive and damage your retainer, making it difficult to keep it clean.
Remove It Before Eating
You should always remove your retainer before eating to prevent food and plaque from becoming trapped. When taking it off, do not twist it with your tongue or pull it to one side, as it could get damaged. Instead, loosen it in several places, then slowly ease it off. Don’t forget to put it in its designated storage case!
Wear Your Retainer Often
It’s worth noting that retainers only work if you use them as directed. Make sure you wear yours as often as your orthodontist recommends it! It’s the best way to ensure your smile stays perfect for life.
Avoid Cleaning with Harsh Chemicals
In most cases, water and a toothbrush are sufficient for cleaning your retainer. If you decide to soak your retainer for a deeper clean, you can add baking soda, mild vinegar, or denture tablets to the water for additional sanitization. Avoid using bleach or alcohol-based mouthwash! They can damage the plastic and your mouth.
Properly Store It
It might seem like a no-brainer to keep your retainer in a safe place, but misplacing it is a problem that happens quite often with patients. Whenever you’re not using your retainer, store it in its case or a bag. Make sure you keep it out of reach of dogs or children – they may damage or lose the retainer.
Brush Your Teeth Before and After Wearing It
Before and after putting on your retainer, brush your teeth. Otherwise, placing your retainer on teeth that are not clean will only cause it to get dirty much more quickly. An unclean mouth can lead to several oral health problems and complications, so prioritize hygiene.
If you’re still unsure how to take care of your retainer, review the tips outlined above. Keeping it clean will help you enjoy a healthy, beautiful smile for life!
About the Author
Dr. Jessica Cohen earned her dental doctorate from Case Western Reserve University and her Certificate of Orthodontics from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a member of the American Dental Association and the American Association of Orthodontists. Dr. Cohen offers fixed or removable retainers. You can schedule a consultation on her website or call (224) 427-6800.