How to Take Care of Your Retainer

So, you’ve fought the good fight, you’ve finished the race, and your braces are off! Woo-hoo!  

Of course, now that your braces are off, that doesn’t mean your role is finished when it comes to keeping that newly-crafted smile gleaming. That’s right – it’s time to talk about your retainer. Don’t worry, though. Dr. Grossman and everyone here at Raleigh Orthodontics want to set you up for success. That’s why we’ve come up with this little guide on how to take care of your retainer. 

Let’s get started! 

Background Info On Your Retainer. 

Since your retainer will be in your mouth most of the day for at least the first four months after your braces come off (hint, hint!), there is plenty of time for harmful bacteria and the leftover food particles that can lead to the plaque to accumulate. Dr. Grossman can give you specific directions, but generally, you’ll want to clean your retainer daily. A good time for this is at the same time you brush your teeth.    

Cleaning Your Retainer. 

Depending on your specific retainer type, your cleaning procedure may vary slightly. The three types of retainers are as follows: 

Fixed retainers

While less common than removable retainers, a fixed option can take a lot of the pressure off since you won’t have to worry about forgetting to wear them! 

Your fixed retainer works by being glued to the back or “lingual” side of the front teeth. Generally, a stainless steel wire is used to keep your teeth from relapsing to their old positions. If using a fixed retainer, be sure to brush and floss diligently in the space surrounding the wire, as the little nooks and crannies make it a favorite spot for plaque and debris! It’s important to angle your brush to reach the space behind your fixed retainer. Always brush thoroughly, but not so aggressively that you damage the wire! 

Even though it can present a bit of a challenge at first, it’s vital to floss regularly with your fixed retainer. Waterpiks or a floss threader can be a great tool to make it easier on you while ensuring a deep clean. It’s a good idea to avoid or moderate certain foods that can damage a fixed retainer, such as crunchy or sticky snacks, and keep up with regular dental visits to keep plaque and cavities under control.  

Be sure and come to Dr. Grossman with any questions!

Hawley retainers

These may be what comes to mind when you think of retainers. 

Kept in place by a wire wrapping around the teeth, combined with an acrylic arch that rests against the roof of the mouth, the Hawley Retainer is removable, making cleaning a more straightforward prospect.   

Be sure to clean your Hawley Retainer daily using a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste to remove plaque and bacteria. Your removable retainer should always stay in its case when not in use. Go ahead and remove your retainer before eating and drinking. This simplifies clean-up and ensures your retainer stays hygienic and fresh!

Essix retainers

A newer option, and one that grows increasingly popular with dentists and orthodontists each year, the Essex Retainer is similar to clear aligners like Invisalign. Like Invisalign, they mold to the shape of your teeth. Also, like Invisalign, they’re a breeze to clean! Just pop them out before your morning and nightly brush sessions, being sure to dry them immediately so saliva doesn’t have a chance to accrue. Then, you can brush your retainer right alongside your teeth! 

You can mix mild dish soap with water for an occasional deeper clean and periodically soak your Essix retainer in a specially-formulated solution such as Efferdent and Polident. 

Be sure and keep good track of your Essix. Just like a Hawley retainer, since you can remove it, you can lose it! It’s vital to always store your retainer in its case when not in use. 

How to Take Care of Your Retainer

Come down and see us! 

One way to be sure your retainer is in great shape is to maintain your regularly-scheduled check-ups with Dr. Grossman and the team. Whether in Raleigh, Louisburg, Creedmoor-Butner, or Wakefield, we’ve got you covered! 

So give us a call with any questions. We’re here to help, and we’re grateful to have the opportunity to serve the great people of Raleigh-Durham and the surroundings. See you soon!