Jennings Orthodontics’ locations in Louisville and Mount Washington want to help you enliven your smile. Everybody deserves a smile they love. And that’s our mission – to keep you smiling. Whether it’s through our superior service, cutting-edge technology, or excellent expertise, we aim to see those pearly whites. One of the tools we use to help straighten smiles is a retainer. Unlike braces, some retainers can be removed. For this reason, they are often the next step in a treatment plan. Once your braces are removed, you’ll need to wear a retainer. Braces help get your teeth straight. Retainers help them stay that way. Hence the name – retainer. But if Dr. Jennings gives you a retainer, how do you maintain it so that it lasts? Don’t fret. Here’s how to take care of your retainer.
Retainer Cleaning Frequency
You wear your retainer for many hours a day. And it’s in a place that’s home to as many as 700 different species of microbes – your mouth. Everything you eat and drink comes into contact with your retainer. All the little things you can’t see – such as bacteria and microbes – touch your retainer. Blech!
You should brush your retainer everyday! Sometimes life gets in the way. It might slip your mind here and there. For the most part, that shouldn’t cause any major problems. But pay attention to your retainer. Look at it and inspect it after waking up and before going to bed. If it’s discolored or cloudy, it needs to be cleaned. If you observe a foul taste or smell, then it’s time for a cleaning.
Retainer Cleaning Methods
The exact method you use to clean your retainer will vary depending on what kind of retainer you have. What works well for one kind of retainer may be inappropriate for another. Always speak to Dr. Jennings before committing to a particular cleaning method. She will advise you on the best way to clean your retainer.
The three basic types of retainers are:
- Fixed: Attached to the side of the teeth facing the tongue
- Hawley: Remain in place via wire wrapping around teeth, can be removed
- Essix: Clear, plastic, and removable
Fixed retainers are assembled from a narrow wire. The write stretches across the inside of the bottom or top front teeth. Using glue, it adheres to that exact spot. For this reason, fixed retainers are particularly adept at keeping teeth straight after braces. Fixed retainers tend to produce the best results. Moreover, they’re impossible to forget because they are always with you. You should still brush your teeth as normal. Although you’ll need to make some adjustments to navigate your brush around your retainer. Verify that your brush touches each part of every tooth. Make sure to pay particular attention to the area behind your retainer. Get in there like it’s your job.
Work with Dr. Jennings regarding how best to floss with a fixed retainer. You might find it easier to use tools like Waterpiks or floss threaders. It’s important to get into even the smallest of spaces. Chew softer foods, but eschew foods that are hard, crunchy, or sticky. Keep regular appointments with our team.
Hawley retainers work via a wire wrapped around the teeth. This wire is attached to an acrylic arch that lies beneath the roof of your mouth. Should Dr. Jennings fit you with a Hawley retainer, clean it daily. We suggest using a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste. Doing so will get rid of bacteria and plaque. If that doesn’t quite cut it, you can leave your retainer in denture cleaner. Keep this retainer out of hot environments. Don’t use hot or boiling water to clean it. Extreme heat will distort and warp the shape of the retainer so it will no longer fit you correctly.
Manufactured from transparent plastic, Essix retainers remain a favorite among both patients and orthodontists. In part, they resemble the trays used with Invisalign clear aligners. When Dr. Jennings issues you a retainer, it is customized to fit your mouth. With proper oversight, an Essix retainer can last for a very long time.
To maintain the integrity of your Essix retainer, make sure to brush and floss prior to putting it on. When the time comes to remove it, clean it straight away. Leaving saliva in it to dry gives bacteria free reign. Similar to the Hawley model, you might opt for a soft-bristled brush for cleaning. Should you desire a more thorough cleansing, use dish soap with lukewarm water. For grooved aligners, a cotton swab will come in handy. If need be, you can place an Essix retainer in denture solution.
Retain Your Retainer At Jennings Orthodontics
Have you still got questions about retainer cleaning and maintenance? The Jennings Orthodontics teams in Mount Washington and Louisville are ready and waiting for you. Schedule a free consultation here. Hesitant about showing up in-person? No problem. Go here for a virtual consult.