Here at Sycamore Orthodontics, we know that nothing is more exciting than getting your braces off. Finally, freedom! However, it’s important to remember that your treatment doesn’t stop there! Retainers are a crucial step when it comes to maintaining that beautiful new smile, so we’ve asked Dr. Peter and Dr. Sarah Barysenka to go over why cleaning and caring for a retainer is important.
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. Peter or Dr. Sarah can give you specific directions, but one thing’s for sure – you’ll want to clean your retainer daily. A good time for this is when you brush your teeth at the same time.
Cleaning Your Retainer.
Depending on your specific retainer type, your cleaning procedure may vary slightly. The three types of retainers are as follows:
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 to come to Dr. Peter or Dr. Sarah with any questions!
These may be what comes to mind when you think of retainers.
Kept in place by a wire that wraps around the teeth, combined with an acrylic arch that rests against the roof of the mouth, the Hawley Retainer is removable. This makes 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!
A newer option and one that grows increasingly popular with dentists and orthodontists each year, the Essix 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 to 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.
Check out these few rapid-fire tips to remember:
- 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!
- 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!
- Cleaning your removable retainer is a cinch! Lightly brush and rinse with water. You can clean your retainer at the same time as you brush your teeth to keep things simple. Occasionally, you’ll want your retainer to soak in a fluid designed for a deeper clean.
- Be sure to avoid leaving your retainer in extreme heat, as this can warp the acrylic of a Hawley or the plastic of an Essix retainer. You should be removing your retainer to eat and drink anyway, but that goes double for hot food and drink.
- Bring your retainer in with you when you come and see us so Dr. Peter or Dr. Sarah can ensure that it’s in good order and that your post-active treatment is on track!
It’s Time to Smile With Sycamore!
Thanks so much for taking the time to learn a little more about the importance of caring for your retainer. Have more questions? Call us at Sycamore Orthodontics today! Our consultations are always free, and there’s a good reason we’re Sycamore’s go-to smile shop! We can’t wait to see you!