Why Cleaning and Caring For a Retainer is Important

At Innovative Orthodontics, we are honored to have been part of your orthodontic journey. We know that our work is more than transforming smiles — it’s changing lives. Building a relationship with our patients and watching them grow in confidence over the course of their treatment is one of the most rewarding parts of the job.

And now that you have finished your braces or clear aligners treatment, it is time to begin the retention phase. Retention is the process of preserving your new alignment and is a crucial step in your orthodontic care. To do this, we will issue you a custom-made retainer!

Why do you need a retainer?

The pressure we apply to your teeth does more than gently push the teeth in the desired direction. It also softens the bones and ligaments around the teeth allowing for teeth movement. When we are satisfied with the location of the teeth, we conclude active treatment because we need to relieve that force to prevent further progression. 

The bones and ligaments, however, need more time to stabilize! They are still soft and pliable, which means there is “wiggle room” for teeth. Teeth almost always prefer their original homes to the new ones and, unless stopped, will make an effort to return. 

That’s where your retainer comes in! The orthodontic appliance is meant to hold your teeth in place as your mouth gets situated.

What types of retainers are there?

Retainers can be fixed or removable. Both styles have their pros and cons. Dr. Waters or Dr. Clayton will discuss them with you and recommend the one they think is best when the time is right.

Fixed retainers are precisely that. They are fixed, or bonded, behind the teeth and can only be removed by an orthodontic professional. Their hidden placement discreetly provides patients with the care they need.

Removable retainers can and should be removed by the patient for eating, drinking, cleaning, and oral hygiene. At Innovative Orthodontics, we are proud to offer low-profile, transparent retainers that look similar to clear aligners. Most people won’t even know that you are wearing them!

It is imperative that you wear your removable retainer as prescribed by your orthodontist. Failure to do so could result in restarting active treatment if your teeth move enough! If you are unable to wear your retainer for any reason, please make an appointment at one of our three convenient locations as soon as possible.

How do you clean your retainer?

Did you know you have increased chances of having a successful retention phase if you properly upkeep your retainers? It’s true! 

Cleaning your retainers and maintaining a consistent oral hygiene routine with good habits it’s necessary to rid your mouth of germs that cause bad breath, tooth decay, gum disease, tooth loss, and other issues that could harm your new smile! Luckily, washing your retainer only takes a few minutes!

Removable retainers

Unclean retainers develop a foul smell and sour taste, which is not very inviting or encouraging to wear for hours every day! To keep them fresh, do the following:

  1. Remove the retainers from the mouth.
  2. Wet the retainers with clean, lukewarm water. Extreme temperatures can warp the material, so be careful!
  3. Apply unscented antibacterial soap. Do not use toothpaste on your clear retainers! The paste is often full of harsh ingredients that can damage the surface, making them uncomfortable to wear and more visible to others.
  4. Gently scrub with a soft-bristled toothbrush separate from the one you use to brush your teeth. Again, too much force could harm the material, so brush with care!
  5. Rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water.
  6. Allow to dry completely before wearing.

Remember: Always ask your orthodontist before applying any product or cleaning solution to your orthodontic appliances! 

Fixed retainers

Truthfully, these might take a bit more practice to clean thoroughly, but we promise it is worth the effort!

  1. Floss! Slip the floss through the teeth under the retainer. If you have difficulty with this, you can try floss threaders!
  2. Use a water flosser. This device uses water to remove stubborn particles from the teeth, gums, and retainer. It is especially helpful for getting to those hard-to-reach places!
  3. Gently brush with your toothbrush when you brush your teeth.

That’s it! Cleaning all those nooks and crannies might be frustrating at first, but if you maintain a consistent routine, you’ll become a pro in no time!

What about when you are not wearing them?

Our removable retainers are thin and transparent for comfort and aesthetic. Unfortunately, those features can make them easy to lose or break! Think of all the places you might eat, drink, or need to perform oral hygiene. Hotels, family or friends’ houses, restaurants, concerts, sporting events, or public parks for picnics are just a few examples.

Basically, we’re trying to say that there are many places where your retainers can get broken, left behind, stepped on, or accidentally thrown away.

To protect your retainers from harm, always put them in their case when you’re not wearing them! The case is a barrier for germs and a shield against physical danger. It also makes them harder to lose because the case takes up more physical and visual real estate — it’ll be easy to know where your retainers are at all times!

Why Cleaning and Caring For a Retainer is Important

Innovative Orthodontics is here for all your retainer needs!

In order for retainers to safely and effectively do their job, they need to be clean and in good condition! Though retainers can always be replaced, you should take good care of your appliances to achieve the best retention results! 

We know the transition from active treatment to retention can be confusing. Innovative Orthodontics strives to provide you with a stress-free, minimal-discomfort orthodontic experience with top-notch customer service.

If you have any questions about retainers, their care, or require a replacement, please contact our offices to speak to a knowledgeable team member or book an appointment with our skilled orthodontists.

We look forward to seeing you soon!