After you get your braces off, you will need to wear a retainer. Some people need to wear theirs only for a few months, while others need to continually wear the retainer at nighttime for the rest of their lives. In either case, the key to making sure that your retainer lasts a long time is to take great care of it. Here are some ways to do just that.
1. Brush it every morning.
Your retainer needs to be cleaned every time you use it! As soon as you remove it in the morning, give it a good brushing at the same time that you clean your teeth. Use just water to scrub it; toothpaste is too abrasive and can scratch its surface. When you're done brushing it, dip it in a retainer rinse to kill any germs. If you run out of retainer rinse, you can use a 50/50 mixture of antiseptic mouthwash instead.
2. Don't wrap it in a napkin.
If you need to wear your retainer during the day, you will want to remove it before you eat. Many people wrap it in a napkin when they are eating, but this is actually a bad practice. Napkin can stick to the retainer and is hard to clean off. Plus, someone might accidentally throw your retainer in the trash, figuring it was something else.
3. Don't play with it with your tongue.
You may be tempted to continually run your tongue over your retainer or push on certain parts of it with your tongue. Many retainer wearers get into this habit when they are bored, but it is a very bad habit and can cause your retainer to become bent over time. When you find yourself playing with the retainer, squeeze a stress ball or do something else to distract yourself.
4. Don't leave it in the car.
When you bring your retainer with you somewhere, always bring it inside with you rather than leaving it in the car. Cars can become very, very hot in the summer, and heat is not good for your retainer. Also, avoid wearing it in the sauna, and never put it in boiling water to clean it.
If you follow the tips above, your retainer should remain in good shape for many years to come. Ask your orthodontist for additional tips and tricks that may make adapting to your retainer a little easier. For more information, go to websites like this one!