Retainers: An Important Part of Follow-Up Care

Hooray! Your (or your child’s) braces have been removed and you have the smile you’ve always wanted. There’s one more part of your treatment to take care of before you leave Dr. Sal’s office without your braces, and that’s getting fitted for a retainer or a finishing appliance.

A retainer is a removable appliance that preserves all the hard work you and your braces just accomplished. While retainers are painless and pretty easy to wear, they do require some basic maintenance to ensure they’re effective for as long as you need it.

How to Clean a Retainer

Regular brushing is a no-brainer. It’s as simple as picking up a soft brush and using the same toothpaste you already use to brush your teeth. If you can keep this regimen up every time you brush your teeth – hopefully at least twice a day – then you’ll be able to keep your retainer clean and bright.

How to Store Yours

Knowing how to store your retainer the right way is also important and easy: just put it in a clean case when you’re not wearing it. Retainers can end up in pockets, a backpack or even on a napkin or food wrapper that’s just gone in the trash and dumpster-diving for orthodontic appliances is never fun.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid

Retainers are a custom built piece of technology, so they’re expensive to replace. Here are a few hazards you should be on the lookout for to keep yours safe for as long as you need it.

  • First, keep an eye on the family dog or cat. Removable dental appliances smell like food – and they smell like you. And pets like both!
  • Next, keep it out of extreme heat. Everything from a car dashboard on a sunny day to hot water or even the dishwasher can make retainers useless.
  • Lastly, don’t forget to bring your retainer with you on future orthodontist visits.

Follow these tips, and you (or your child) will have straight teeth and a perfect smile for life.