The Ultimate Guide to Caring for Your Retainer

Now that you’ve gotten your appliances removed, you’re finally free to get back to your regular oral routines! But to maintain your results, you’ve got to become friends with your retainer. At Straight Smiles Orthodontics, we want all our patients to know that taking care of your retainer is equally as important as taking care of your braces or aligners. So let’s look at some essential retainer tips that will keep your smile straight for longer.

Retainer care 101

The type of retainer you have will determine the care method it needs, so it’s essential to speak with Dr. Rafaill or your Straight Smiles orthodontic specialist to find the best way to maintain yours. In general, these tips should apply to most retainers:

  1. Clean your retainer regularly. Just as you brush your teeth daily, you should also brush your Hawley retainer with a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste. You can clean your Essix retainer with a qtip. 
  2. Soak your retainer in a cleaner like Retainer Brite. This will help keep it free from bacteria and plaque that can build up over time.
  3. Don’t leave your retainer out of its case. Not only could it get misplaced or damaged, but bacteria can also accumulate on the retainer if you don’t store it properly.
  4. Replace your retainer when needed. Dr. Rafaill will tell you when to replace your retainer and how frequently — usually every 6-12 months — based on what type of retainer you have and how often you wear it.

Following these tips will help keep your retainer in good condition and reduce the likelihood of needing to replace it more frequently than necessary.

Cleaning fixed vs. removable retainers

While the above tips apply mainly to removable retainers, here are a few tips on how to care for the three main types of retainers, including the non-removable ones:

Fixed retainers

Since these types of retainers are bonded to your teeth and can’t be removed, you must be extra diligent with your hygiene practices. To keep it clean, use an antimicrobial mouthwash or non-abrasive toothpaste. You should also floss carefully under the retainer each time you brush your teeth. Special tools such as a Waterpik or floss threader can help you get between the teeth to which the retainer is attached. During one of your appointments with Dr. Rafaill, he will give you tips on getting into those hard-to-reach places!

Essix retainers

Essix retainers are made of a thin, clear plastic that fits over your teeth like an aligner. Cleaning the Essix retainer can be done by using a qtip to gently swab it clean. Use a cleaner that is made specifically for clear Essix retainers, such as Retainer Brite. Another vital point is to brush and floss your teeth prior to putting your Essix retainer in, just as you would with a regular aligner.

Hawley retainers

Hawley retainers are made from acrylic and have metal wires, so they need special care. To clean them, brush them with a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste. Then, soak in a denture cleaner or antibacterial mouthwash to remove any leftover plaque or bacteria. Make sure not to use overly hot water when cleaning it—this can easily warp it!

The Ultimate Guide to Caring for Your RetainerEmbrace your retainer routine with Straight Smiles Orthodontics

So, remember that taking care of your retainer is essential for maintaining straight teeth and keeping your smile beautiful. Luckily, Straight Smiles Orthodontics is here to help you through every step of the journey, from providing you with a custom-made retainer to providing tips on ensuring it stays clean and in good condition. Contact us today to get started!