You just had your braces taken off. Your teeth are straight as straight can be. You’re living the high life . . . except now you have to wear a retainer.
While wearing a retainer isn’t ideal, it’s not the end of the world either. As long as you follow a few key tips, you should find your experience to be a bearable one.
Without further ado, here is how to live your best life with dental retainers.
When Should Dental Retainers Be Worn?
The amount of time that an individual must wear a retainer depends upon his or her circumstances. In most cases, individuals should wear their retainers full-time for the first 2 or 3 months after having their braces removed, and then only at nights after those months have passed.
Note, however, that this is not a hard and fast rule. Some individuals will only have to wear their retainers for half a day every day, while others will have to wear their retainers almost constantly.
Your orthodontist should provide you with all of the information you need regarding the use of your retainer. If you have any questions, you’re advised to ask.
Retainer Reminder Tips
One of the big problems that patients have with retainers is remembering to put them in. This is particularly true of young kids who have not yet faced much responsibility.
If you have trouble remembering to insert your retainer, you’re advised to utilize one or more of the following tips.
Keep a Retainer Bag
When you received your retainer, you likely also received a small, plastic storage entity. While this storage entity is sufficient for keeping your retainer safe and sound, it’s fairly small. Because it’s so small, it’s easy to forget.
So, how do you get around this problem? By storing your retainer inside of the storage entity, and then storing them both inside of a bigger bag (think a purse or backpack).
A big bag is hard to miss, specifically if you take it with you everywhere. Storing your retainer inside of one increases the chance that you take it with you to work or school.
Store Your Retainer in the Same Location
Just like with your keys or your wallet, it’s important that you store your retainer in the same place every time you set it down. This way, your grabbing it becomes a habit, and you almost never forget to put it in.
Write Reminder Notes
While reminder notes can be heavy-handed, they can also be effective. There’s no shame in posting a big note on your front door to remind you to put in your retainer before leaving. If it keeps your teeth straight, it’s worthwhile.
How to Eat With Dental Retainers
A question that many retainer users ask is: what am I supposed to do with my retainer while eating? Do you leave it in? Do you take it out?
We’re going to get into the specifics of eating with a retainer below.
Take Your Retainer Out
First and foremost, you’re advised to take your retainer out while eating. Though you could conceivably chew food with a retainer over your teeth, you risk getting food particles stuck on the inside of your retainer. These food particles would attract a number of bacteria, ultimately causing harm to your teeth.
Store Your Retainer in Its Case
After your retainer has been taken out, you’re advised to store it in its designated case. Not only will this protect it from germs, but it will also ensure that you don’t accidentally throw it away.
Brush Before Reinserting Your Retainer
While it’s not always a possibility, it’s highly recommended that you brush your teeth before reinserting your retainer. Failure to do so could result in trapped food particles. If these food particles become trapped under the retainer, they could attract bacteria, causing tooth decay.
Retainer Care Tips
Now, we’re going to discuss general retainer care. To keep your retainer in as optimal of shape as possible, you’re advised to do the following.
Keep Your Retainer Cool
One of the most important things to remember about retainers is that they’re susceptible to heat. Hot weather, hot water, and other hot entities can cause the structure of retainers to give way, making them misshapen and ill-fitting.
Clean your retainer with cool water, keep it out of your car during the summertime and do everything else you have to do to protect it from heat damage.
Give Your Retainer a Brush
Because they’re in close contact with the teeth, retainers are prone to taking on tooth plaque. As such, they must be treated in the same way that teeth are treated. In other words, they must be brushed on a regular basis.
We recommend giving your retainer a brush with toothpaste at least once a day. Then, after it’s been brushed, dry it completely and store it in an airtight case.
Stay Away from Abrasives
Often times, in an attempt to clean their retainers, individuals will expose them to abrasive chemicals. This is never a good idea, as abrasive chemicals can eat through the retainer, affecting its shape and strength. The primary chemical to avoid is alcohol-based mouthwash.
Don’t Forget the Case
Your retainer isn’t the only thing that requires care. Your retainer case does as well. After all, it encounters all of the bacteria that your retainer encounters.
To keep it clean and sanitary, you should scrub it with soap and water on at least a weekly basis. However, the more you clean it, the better off you’ll be.
How Much Do Retainers Cost?
The cost of retainers varies depending on materials used, brand name, and construction quality. An accurate clear retainer cost would be between $100 and $250. While you could pay either less or more than this, it’s a good ballpark range to count on.
Brush Up on Your Dental Care
Dental retainers can be annoying, but if you want to keep those teeth straight, they’re a necessity. As long as you follow the tips above, you can expect to have a reasonable retainer experience.
Hoping to brush up on your dental care? Then you’re in the right place. Our blog is loaded with tips, helping you to achieve your ideal smile.
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