Congratulations! Your orthodontist has finally, at long last, removed your braces! Your teeth are straight, and clean, and gorgeous! You are ready to skip out of the orthodontist’s office and never look back.
Not so fast! Your teeth are straight and beautiful, but they’re not interested in staying that way forever—not without the help of a retainer! Your orthodontist will make a retainer specifically to fit your new, flashy smile. Wearing your retainer is important—no, more serious than that—it’s crucial to ensuring the longevity of your straight and impressive teeth. If you neglect to wear your retainer exactly to the directions of your orthodontist, you will not retain (see what we did there?) the benefits that you worked so hard and so long to achieve while you were wearing your braces. You may not be overwhelmingly enthusiastic about wearing your retainer day-and-night for 6 months, or every night thereafter, but when you look into the mirror and see that big, beautiful smile, and you remember how far you’ve come from the day of your first orthodontic appointment, isn’t it worth it to pop that retainer in?
Just like your braces required a little extra TLC, so does your retainer.
You will need to remove your retainer when you eat. Your wallet (or your parents’ wallet!) will thank you to please store your retainer in its case when it is not in your mouth. Many a school custodian has dug through the cafeteria trash looking for accidentally discarded retainers! Yuck! And replacing retainers can be very costly. So keep your retainer close and keep it safe!
Your retainer gathers the same bacteria and plaque that your mouth does during the day. So, when you clean your teeth, clean your retainer! Your retainer is made of acrylic, and toothpaste can scratch or dull the surface, providing tiny divots for bacteria to grow. The best way to clean your retainer is NOT to brush it with a toothbrush and toothpaste, but rather to soak it in cleaning solution, such as denture cleaning tablets. You can also use common household items like vinegar and water to clean your retainer and kill the bacteria.
We know that your have SO many things to remember when you are getting ready for your day: brush your teeth, eat breakfast, get dressed, tie your shoes, grab your backpack (or purse, or briefcase), and don’t be late! How on earth will you remember to grab your retainer, too? You can experiment with several different reminder methods, depending on what works best for you and your morning routine. We suggest trying some of the following:
- Attach a sticky note to the inside of the front door, at eye height, so you can’t miss it as you’re rushing out the door.
- Set an alarm on your cell phone (if you have one) or ask your parent to set an alarm on their phone.
- If you are soaking your retainer and need to remember to grab it, put your shoes, keys, or backpack in the bathroom so you have to go back into the room to get it, thereby reminding yourself to grab your retainer while you’re in the bathroom.
Wearing your retainer exactly the way your orthodontist has instructed is crucial to a successful and lasting outcome to your orthodontic care, so do whatever you need to do to ensure that you remember to grab that retainer everyday!