You invested a lot of time and money to achieve your new, straight smile with braces. To make sure your teeth stay perfectly aligned, orthodontists usually recommend follow-up treatment with a retainer to prevent teeth from returning to their previous position. Here are five ways you can keep your new retainer clean and free of damage.

Store Your Retainer in a Case

A plastic case is the best way to protect your retainer and keep it from getting lost. Retainers that are wrapped in tissue, napkins or paper are likely to get thrown away. Tossing your retainer into a purse, backpack or drawer without a protective case is likely to cause damage.

Keep Retainers Away from Pets and Children

The last thing you want to do is put in your retainer and taste dog breath. Dogs love to chew, eat and bury retainers. Small children may view a retainer as a colorful toy and lose it or break it. Retainers also present a choking hazard for small children. Keep retainers stored safely in a drawer or cabinet fitted with safety latches.

Brush Your Retainer Every Time You Brush Your Teeth

Your retainer stays in your mouth most of the time, which means it picks up the same germs that inhabit your teeth, gums and tongue. Retainers should be removed and brushed separately from teeth. First, apply a small amount of gentle toothpaste or baking soda and water solution to a soft-bristled toothbrush or retainer brush. Then gently brush every surface of the retainer, rinse and pat dry.

Deep Clean Your Retainer Once a Week

Your retainer needs to be deep cleaned at least once per week in addition to daily brushing. Most retainers can be deep cleaned by soaking in retainer cleanser or an effervescent denture cleaner. Read your retainer’s care instructions or ask your dentist for suggestions to determine the best type of cleanser to use.

Avoid Extreme Temperatures

Exposing your retainer to extreme heat or cold can damage it. Avoid using hot or cold water to clean your retainer. Never leave retainers in a car or store them in the refrigerator. Do not attempt to clean your retainer by boiling or putting it in the dishwasher.

Taking special care of your retainer will ensure that it continues to maintain your new, healthy smile. If your retainer does become lost or damage, contact a dentist like Stones River Dental and have it replaced as soon as possible to prevent your teeth from relapsing.


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