Congratulations on your new, beautiful smile! Now for the next step in orthodontic treatment – keeping it that way! Wearing your retainers as directed is the most important thing you can do to keep your smile as straight as the first day braces free. Your retainers prevent your teeth from shifting and your bite from changing. If you don’t wear them, your teeth will slowly move back to your original, “pre-orthodontic” smile.
The first few months of retainer wear are essential. The soft tissues that surround and anchor your teeth (called fibers and ligaments) need time to adjust and reorganize before they can play their role in stabilizing their new alignment. Dr. Caudill and Dr. McNeight will require you to wear your retainers every night and some during the day for a few months. In the long-term, retainers need to be worn every night.
Wearing your retainers at night can be as simple as remembering to brush your teeth or turn off the bedroom lights. Once you are accustomed to sleeping with them in your mouth, it may even feel weird when you forget. The more you remind yourself, the more they will become a habit to wear. Try setting timers on your phone or placing little notes on your mirror to help.
Remembering to wear them can turn into a habit, but not losing them…well, now that is a skill! You cannot be careless. Retainers are small, delicate, and sometimes even clear (depending on the kind you wear). They can easily be thrown away in the trash, mixed up in the laundry, or even stepped on. It’s best to store them in their plastic case when you are not wearing them. Pets seem to even like retainers too! You can see in the photo that Bodie, one of our patient's furry friend, couldn't help himself from using a retainer as a chew toy.
When it comes to cleaning your retainers, you have a few options. Some patients use antibacterial soap or dawn dish soap with a soft-bristled toothbrush, while others soak them in Retainer Brite solution. Another safe and around the house option is to soak them in full strength white vinegar during the day. These cleaning options will keep them germ-free and looking new if you clean them every day.
Retaining your new smile isn’t hard nor should it be! You will be more than fine if you wear your retainer(s) daily plus wash and keep track of them. Once your doctor gives you the go-ahead for nightly wear only, store them in their case (directly next to your bathroom sink or bed) and enjoy your perfect smile for the rest of the day, worry-free.