Once your braces are removed or you take out your Invisalign® clear aligners for the last time, does that mean your orthodontic treatment is over? Not quite! One of the most critical parts of your treatment process is yet to come.
The retention phase begins the day your braces or Invisalign treatment ends, and it’s essential for solidifying the beautiful results that you, Dr. Insoft, Dr. Hurst and our incredible team worked so hard for.
When you first start wearing your retainer, you’ll be instructed to wear it throughout the day and night for a while. That’s a lot of wear! And with consistent wear comes the potential for bacteria growth. (Did you know we have 20 billion bacteria in our mouth at any given time, and they reproduce every 5 hours?)
Needless to say, keeping your retainer clean is incredibly important. As long as you care for your retainer, your retainer will help you maintain your incredible new smile for years to come
Here are the best ways to keep your retainer looking new and lasting longer:
1. Use retainer cleaning tablets. Specialized cleaning tablets, like Efferdent® or Retainer Brite®, are highly-effective antibacterial solutions that remove stains and eliminate odors for all types of retainers. To use a retainer soaking solution, simply drop a tablet in lukewarm water, place your retainer in the solution and let it soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Then remove your retainer from the solution and rinse it with lukewarm water. You can soak your retainer every two weeks to keep it in its best shape.
2. Clean your retainer thoroughly once a day. Retainer soaking solutions can’t take the place of your daily cleaning routine! You still need to brush your retainer thoroughly at least once a day. Daily cleanings are how you remove plaque from retainers and prevent it from building up! Use your toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste to brush your retainer gently but effectively. Be sure to use lukewarm water when you’re cleaning your retainer. Hot water can damage or warp the material.
3. Create a gentle baking soda scrub. Please note, we use the word “scrub” loosely! You should never scrub your retainer aggressively. Always stay cautious of how you’re handling your retainer.
Here’s how to clean your retainer with baking soda:
- Mix equal parts baking soda and lukewarm water.
- Stir the mixture until it turns to a thick paste.
- Use a soft toothbrush to brush the mixture onto your retainer, as if you’re using toothpaste.
- Gently brush all sides of your retainer with this paste.
- Once you’re done, rinse your retainer thoroughly with lukewarm water. Don’t leave any of the mixture on your retainer!
4. Don’t neglect your retainer case! It’s important that you clean your retainer case regularly too. (If you think about it, cleaning your retainer then placing it back in a dirty case almost defeats the purpose of cleaning your retainer in the first place.)
Here’s how to clean your retainer case:
- After cleaning your retainer, before placing it back in its case, use lukewarm water and soap to gently wash the inside and outside of your case.
- Using clean hands, simply rub the soapy water around the inner and outer surfaces of the case.
- Use a paper towel to dry the case.
- Place your clean retainer back in your clean case!
Take great care of your retainer and it’ll take care of your smile. As long as you soak your retainer, brush it regularly and commit to gentle care, you can keep your retainer looking new and lasting longer for as long as you’ll need.
If you have any questions about the best ways to clean or care for your retainer, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us! We’re here to support you throughout your entire orthodontic process, from your first exam to your last appointment.
If you haven’t started your smile transformation yet but you’re ready to experience a new smile, we encourage you to request your complimentary consultation today!