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Storing and Cleaning Your Retainer Properly

By November 16, 2023No Comments

Once you have completed your orthodontic treatment by Dr. Song–whether your teeth were straightened by traditional braces, the process was sped up by our special technology, or you used Invisalign trays–everyone needs to wear a retainer for a period afterwards.

Why? Because as beautiful as your new smile may appear, the teeth still have a tendency for a while to return to their original crooked positions. Only Dr. Song can assess your specific case and tell you how long you will probably need to wear your customized retainers. These are made of biocompatible plastic and if used and stored properly, will make sure that your unique perfect smile is permanent.

Scheduling Regular Check-ups

That means that you need to wear them during the day and at night for a couple of months, taking them out only when you eat or play sports (when you should wear a personalized mouthguard, not one that is bought over-the-counter). Then with the approval of Dr. Song, you can wear them for half a day and at night for at least a year. When you see her for a regular checkup, she will advise you whether you can change this schedule.

Proper Cleaning and Storage

But it is not enough to simply wear the retainer, it needs to be properly cleaned and stored, lest it become damaged (or even lost–they are small and easily misplaced, so always store them in a case when out of your mouth). Ways to extend the lifespan of your retainer:

  • Take it out carefully and put it back on according to instructions, lest it become bent and not fit correctly.
  • After taking it out for meals, before putting it back on you should clean it with a soft bristled brush (other than your regular toothbrush) and mild soap in lukewarm water (it is not necessary to use a toothpaste, but definitely avoid designated any for whitening, which include abrasives).
  • At night, soak the retainer in a 50/50 solution of distilled water and white vinegar for 20 minutes. This softens any of the plaque that might have stuck to it (this is the bacterial film that causes cavities and gum disease). Then rinse it with warm (not hot) water.
  • Do not clean the retainer with Clorox or other chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide, which can damage it and be dangerous to your health. 
  • If yellow or brown spots appear, get denture tablets at any store and drop one into a cup of warm water with the retainer for 20 minutes, then scrub off the spots and rinse in cold running water.
  • Keep the retainer out of reach of pets, which love the smell and taste. 

If you have any questions about how to keep your retainer in good shape, set an appointment with Dr. Song to discuss its care.