How to care for your retainer after Invisalign or braces
Your smile is straight and gorgeous after wearing Invisalign or braces — and you want to keep it that way! So how do you maintain your movie star smile? By wearing your retainer, of course! In this article, we’ll show you how to care for your retainer so you can enjoy your perfect smile for life!
What does a retainer do?
After you straighten your teeth with braces or Invisalign, a retainer keeps your teeth from moving out of position. If you don’t wear your retainer as your orthodontist recommends, your teeth may move, affecting your smile. Yes, crooked, crowded and gapped teeth can reoccur after braces or Invisalign.
Believe it or not, your teeth move all your life. Just as your braces or Invisalign moves your teeth into their new, straight position, your teeth are still able to shift after treatment is over. Without a retainer, they almost certainly will shift.
How long do I need to wear a retainer after braces or Invisalign?
Ahhhh … the million-dollar question. Unfortunately, we can’t tell you for sure how long you’ll need to wear your retainer after braces or Invisalign. Some people need to wear a retainer for life, and others may be able to wear their retainer for only a few years … or even months. We generally recommend that our patients wear their retainers at night for life, as that really is the safest bet if you want to keep your smile perfectly straight long term.
How to care for your retainers
Now that your retainer is your best friend, it’s important to know how to care for it so it lasts. Retainer care isn’t difficult, but consistency is key.
- Keep it clean – Brush your retainer once daily with toothpaste to remove bacteria and keep it smelling fresh. For convenience, work brushing your retainer into your morning tooth-brushing routine.
- Store your retainer correctly – Get a retainer container (which is also fun to say) that allows proper airflow around your retainer. Without proper airflow, mold and bacteria can grow on your retainer – which you definitely don’t want in your mouth! We’ll provide you with one after you complete treatment with us, and you can also find cute retainer cases online. Always put your retainer in its case when not in your mouth. Keeping your retainer safely tucked away in the container keeps it protected and helps you not lose it.
- Keep your retainer away from kids and pets – Curious dogs and playful kids will make quick work of destroying your retainer. Always keep your retainer either in your mouth or in its container, and put that container out of reach!
- Soak your retainer once a week – Using either a professional retainer cleaning solution like Retainer Brite or a homemade solution of equal parts 3% hydrogen peroxide and water, soak your retainer for 15 minutes each week. This weekly soak will prevent yellowing and remove odor-causing bacteria from your retainer. Do not soak your retainer in mouthwash or denture cleaner, as neither are formulated to work well with the plastic that your retainer is made from and may cause degradation of your retainer.
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