Some orthodontic patients need to just wear one retainer on the bottom or on the top, but some patients might need both. Typically at first, you will wear the retainer all day long and then you will most likely only have to wear it at night to sleep. Keep in mind that each individual treatment plan is different.
Cleaning Your Retainer
Your retainer spends a lot of time in your mouth! It makes sense that it need to be cleaned on a regular basis, just like your teeth do.
A good rule of thumb is that your retainer should never go into your mouth or into its case without getting a good cleaning first.
Keeping a regular cleaning routine for your retainer helps eliminate bacteria and plaque buildup on it, helping to prevent the development of tooth decay and gum disease. It also helps ensure your breath stays fresh while your retainer is in!
It’s best to clean your retainer as soon as you take it out of your mouth, so that any plaque and debris on it don’t have a chance to harden.
Mix some lukewarm water with a mild dish or hand soap, and use a soft toothbrush to gently clean your retainer. Then rinse it thoroughly before placing it back into your mouth or its case.
Avoid using toothpaste, as it is abrasive and can leave scratches on the retainer’s surface, where bacteria can flourish.
If necessary you can use a cotton swab to clean out the deeper grooves and ridges on your retainer.
You should also soak your retainer once a week. This can be accomplished with a denture cleaner, baking soda or castile soap and distilled water. Ask our orthodontist, Dr. Kevin Lee, D.D.S, M.S., first to see what he would advise.
Storing Your Retainer
It is important to keep your retainer in its storage case when it is not being worn or cleaned. Carefully storing your retainer in the case goes a long way in preventing it from getting dirty, lost or damaged.
Never put your retainer in its case without cleaning it first. Putting a dirty retainer in an enclosed space creates an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.
After you have cleaned your retainer, let it air dry. Make sure that it is completely dry before putting it in its case. A moist environment in the case can allow bacteria to grow as well.
Don’t ever leave your retainer (in or out of its case) in your car, by the stove, or anywhere else that could get hot. Retainers can be easily warped by heat.