Removable Retainer Care Instructions
The single most important thing you can do after braces is to wear your retainer as often as your orthodontist instructs you too. It’s likely you’ve been instructed to wear your retainer all the time, whether it’s a Hawley retainer or a clear retainer.
Here are some additional instructions for your removable retainer:
- Things that Deform or Destroy Your Retainer
- Your Removable Retainer and Food Cleaning
- Your Hawley or Clear Retainer
You’ve worked way too hard wearing your braces to let your smile fade now. The best way to preserve your smile is to follow all of the instructions from your orthodontist in addition to the information above. If you have any questions or concerns about caring for your removable orthodontic retainer, please contact Dr. Lewis in Lyndhurst, OH to schedule an appointment.
It’s important to always keep clear and Hawley retainers in their case. Retainers are very fragile, if they weren’t they wouldn’t be very comfortable in your mouth. The container keeps it safe from little things that could ruin it: like being dropped, stolen by a pet, or bouncing around in your bookbag or purse. Keeping your removable Retainer in it’s case is rule number one for keeping it safe, these are some other things that could ruin your retainer:
- Heat - Don’t let a clear or Hawley retainer sit in hot car, soak in hot water, be put in the dishwasher, or be heated in any other way. Your Hawley or Clear retainer was customized to fit your mouth. Heat might deform your retainer to the extent that it no longer fits comfortably (or at all) and no longer meets your orthodontic needs. Don’t ignore this important step because a deformed retainer may not work to stabilize your smile like it should, or worse your deformed retainer may move your teeth where you don’t want them to go. In order to retain the your new smile, it’s important to maintain the integrity of your retainer by keeping it the shape it was meant to be.
- The Wrong Kind of Water - Don’t wear your retainer while swimming. Your retainer should never be exposed to pool water (chlorine water), salt water, and even lake water, as any of these types of waters could expose your retainer to harsh chemicals or gross bacteria. Swimming with your retainer also increases the odds that it could be lost or damaged.
- Pressure - Please don’t expose your retainer to any type of pressure. This includes having it in your pocket, putting stuff on top of it, putting in a bag or box with other items, sitting on it or stepping on it, or applying pressure to it in any way that could damage of deform it.
- Chemicals & Coloring - Chemicals and coloring can damage your removable retainer. The dyes in products like mouthwash can permanently transform the color of a clear or Hawley retainer. Imagine the disappointment you’ll feel if you clear retainer has a permanent blue hue to it! Chemicals like alcohol can also damage your retainer by drying it out.
Now that you know the basics of making sure that you don’t damage or destroy your removable retainer, please contact Dr. Lewis in Lyndhurst, OH if you have specific questions for protecting your orthodontic retainer.
One of the best features about a clear or Hawley retainer is that they are removable, so make sure you take out your retainer when you eat. Here are some important reasons why:
- Easier to Clean - Food stuck in a Hawley or Clear Retainer can be hard to get off, a little time consuming, and a little gross. Especially clear retainers because tiny food particles (that you may not be able to see) can get stuck in the grooves. Which leads us to the next reason to take your retainer out while eating:
- It’s Much More Sanitary - Help keep your removable retainer sanitary by taking it out when you eat. Food particles stuck on your retainer can rapidly grow bacteria, so it’s better to just remove it until you are done.
- Cavities - We all know that trapped food can cause cavities. In addition to the reasons above, you need to take your Hawley or Clear retainer out when eating because those same food particles can cause cavities and who wants to take a trip to the dentist for that.
- Embarrassment - Last but certainly not least, it’s just embarrassing to have food trapped in your retainer. Who knows how many people you talked too since lunch. Spare yourself the uncertainty of knowing if you’ve got food in your retainer and just take it out.
Oral hygiene, convenience, and a healthy smile are still important after your braces. Although it’s a simple step, Lewis Orthodontics hopes they’ve convinced you to take out your clear or Hawley retainer while eating.
It’s important to make sure that your removable retainer is clean. Wearing your retainer day and night will cause a buildup of plaque & bacteria if you aren’t careful to do a good job cleaning them often.
Always use a soft bristle toothbrush with any of the following steps for cleaning your Hawley or Clear retainer:
Toothbrush and Toothpaste - These are the steps for a healthy, sanitary, free from odor, removable retainer:
- Make sure to clean your retainer daily with warm water, a soft bristle toothbrush, and toothpaste.
- Make sure you aren’t using a tartar control or whitening toothpaste. Abrasives, Pyrophosphates, and Zinc Citrate are used to remove mineral deposits and plaque in those types of toothpaste. However, when you have a clear or Hawley retainer abrasives and minerals can cause serious scratching to your removable retainer. The scratching does more harm than just making your retainer look worn. It’s a great place for bacteria to live and breed where future brushings won’t reach it.
- Make sure to brush your removable retainer completely on all sides and surfaces. Your retainer lives in your mouth so every material and surface is important.
- Make sure that you don’t scrub too hard. Even with a soft bristle tooth brush you could scratch the surface if you aren’t careful.
- Other cleaning methods for your Hawley or Clear Retainer shouldn’t replace brushing. However, other removable retainer cleaning methods can be used in addition to brushing your retainer. Most patients choose to brush their orthodontic retainers immediately before or after brushing their teeth for convenience. Dr. Lewis recommends brushing your removable retainer in the morning. It will help you start the day with a fresh feeling after having slept with your removable retainer in.
- Home Denture Cleaners - Home denture cleaners can be a great option for for people with removable retainers like a Clear or Hawley retainer. If you would like to take a precautionary measure against odors and bacteria using a denture cleaner on a removable retainer can be a good option. Just follow the instructions on the packaging for the brand that you choose and then brush your removable retainer with a soft bristle tooth brush. Rinse your retainer with warm water so that the cleaning solution doesn’t remain on your retainer or end up in your mouth. Remember that using a denture cleaner should be an occasional additional step, not a replacement for brushing your retainer.
- Cleaning Methods to Remove Odors - Your removable retainer can be soaked in mouthwash or vinegar to remove odors and to experience a cleaner feel. Hawley and Clear Retainers only need to be soaked for about an hour. As soon as you are finished soaking your removable retainer rinse it with warm water and gently brush it with a soft toothbrush. In order to make sure that you don’t damage your retainer please use a clear, non-alcohol mouthwash.
For additional questions about cleaning your removable retainer contact Lewis Orthodontics, in Lyndhurst, Ohio.