It is an exciting day when you finish your orthodontic treatment and get your braces or Invisalign attachments off! There is a lot going on and you may be more eager to stare at your new Hollywood smile rather than paying attention to your orthodontist’s retainer instructions, but those instructions are very important to keep your smile looking as good as it does on this day, so keep reading for the 4 golden rules for successful retainer wear:
1) Wear your retainers full-time for the first 6 months and then night-time for life.
It takes bone 6 months to reform around the new position of your teeth which is why it is important to wear your retainers full-time (except for eating and brushing!) for the first 6 months after finishing your orthodontic treatment. After the first 6 months, it is important to wear your retainers every night for life. The latest research shows that, just like our bodies change over time, our teeth want to change over time as well, so it is important to wear your retainers every night for life or as long as you want straight teeth! Do not be nervous about wearing retainers “for life” – Retainers quickly become a part of your night-time routine – I can’t fall asleep without mine now!
2) When your retainers are not in your mouth, they should be in your case.
Do not put them in a napkin! They will end up in the garbage.
Do not put them in your pocket! They will end up in the washing machine.
And dogs LOVE to chew both retainers and their cases (and Invisalign aligners for those of you still in treatment!), so keep them out of reach of any dogs you might be around – whether at your house or a friend’s. These are all true stories…. One of these three things happen on a monthly if not weekly basis! Retainers are expensive to replace, so please, always keep them in your case when they are not in your mouth.
3) Keep them clean
Retainers should be cleaned every day with cold water, hand soap and a toothbrush. Try not to use toothpaste unless you have nothing else – toothpaste has abrasives in it to remove stains from your teeth – these abrasives can slowly hurt your retainers and prevent them from lasting as long as they should. You want to get as much life out of your retainers as possible because, again, they are expensive to replace!
4) Bring your retainers with you to every dental appointment.
You should always bring your retainers with you to any dental appointment whether it be your orthodontic office or general dental office. At an orthodontic office we, of course, want to check how your retainers are fitting. Certain types of retainers can loosen over time and need to be adjusted now and then to continue to do their job well. Bringing your retainers to your dental visits is equally important – any time that you have dental work done (e.g. a filling or a crown), your dentist should check that your retainer still fits before you leave his or her chair. If it does not, they can simply adjust the new filling or crown to fit the retainer – this is less expensive than paying for a new retainer. Additionally, you can ask your general dentist to professionally clean your retainers for you the same way that they would clean dentures at each of your 6 month visits!
Hopefully this post reiterated the key instructions for successful retainer wear to keep your teeth straight and your smile looking as beautiful as the day you ended your orthodontic treatment!