Dental care is a journey with many winding roads, and often braces are a part of that journey. Braces straighten our teeth and help us achieve beautiful smiles. Aside from their cosmetic benefits, braces prevent gum disease, cavities, bone loss and assist with speech. They help boost our self-esteem and improve our physical and emotional health, too. The funny thing about braces is that as soon as you get them on, we are sure it’s tempting to start counting down the days until you don’t need them anymore.
Even after the braces are off, taking care of your smile is an ongoing journey. In order to prevent your teeth from shifting, you’ll need to wear a retainer for best results. Read on as we discuss tips for taking care of your retainers.
Understand Your Retainers
Now that your braces are off and your teeth are straight, half the battle is won; the other half is keeping them that way, which is where retainers come in. Taking care of your retainer will become second nature once you understand the basics. Retainers are pieces of plastic or metal that are custom-made for your teeth. There are two general types of retainers:
- Removable retainers – these can be put in and taken out daily. They can be wire retainers (a wire and plastic mix) or clear retainers (transparent trays made of a plastic-like material). They are much easier to keep clean because you can take them out when brushing your teeth or eating.
- Fixed retainers – these are made of thin, custom-fitted wire that is bonded to the tongue-side of your upper or lower teeth. They may remind you of braces because they are adhered to the teeth in a similar way. Fixed retainers are especially good at keeping your teeth in place, but they can be harder to clean.
Rinse, Use and Repeat
Dr. Cam-Tu explains that it is important to keep your retainers in good condition because bacteria can accumulate in your mouth, which could damage your teeth. If your retainers is not properly maintained, it will not be as effective at keeping your teeth straightened. Follow these steps to keep it in top shape:
- Rinse your retainers in cold or lukewarm water before and after each use. Never use hot water because this can cause it to shrink.
- Store your retainers in a plastic case when it’s not in use – pets love to chew on them.
- If you are using a permanent retainer, you will follow the same cleaning process you did when you had braces.
Know the Dos and Don’ts
You’d be surprised at how easily you’ll get into the habit of caring for your retainer. Since you had braces, it’ll feel like second-nature in no time. Keep these additional tips in mind so you always know what to do and what not to do when it comes to caring for your retainer:
- Avoid napkins – it may be easy to wrap your retainer in a napkin during meals, but you or your waiter may accidentally toss the napkin into the trash.
- Be careful when putting on your at-home retainer – make sure your retainer is on all the way. When taking it off, avoid flipping it off with your tongue or pulling it off forcefully on one side because this can cause your retainer to break.
- Keep your teeth clean – good dental care is still important. Don’t forget to brush your teeth before putting on your retainer. Dirty teeth will make your retainer get dirty much more quickly and can be harmful for your teeth.
Protect Your Smile with Radiance Dental
Are you looking for a family dentist in the Twin Cities? While much of the work to maintain a healthy smile is done at home using proper dental care, regular dental appointments are necessary for protecting your oral and overall health.
At Radiance Dental, we provide general, pediatric and cosmetic dentistry services to make sure your whole family has healthy, happy smiles. Our dedicated staff of dentists and hygienists are committed to continued education to learn the latest techniques and technologies to provide the best available care for our patients. We provide a safe, comfortable atmosphere for regular cleanings, important questions and the treatments our patients need to put their best smile forward. If you are interested in retainers for yourself or your children, schedule a dentist appointment with us today.