When you wear braces, you probably can’t wait for the day your orthodontist takes them off and you can flaunt a beautiful, straight smile. Orthodontic treatment, however, doesn’t end with braces. Most of the time, your orthodontist will fit you for a retainer, an oral appliance that keeps teeth from shifting back into an improper position. You may wear a removable retainer as well as one that stays inside your mouth.
Initially, you will need to wear the removable retainer for most of the day. Over time, your orthodontist will watch your teeth and may lessen the number of hours you wear the appliance. For children and teenagers, many orthodontists recommend wearing a retainer until their early 20s. To keep your retainer in good condition, follow these helpful hints:
- Remove your retainer when you eat, brush, or floss.
- Clean your retainer with warm, soapy water or toothpaste after each use.
- Put your retainer in a safe place when you aren’t wearing the appliance. People often remove their retainers at restaurants and place them in napkins, which can result in expensive replacement costs.
- Carry your retainer case with you so that you have it available at all times. Never leave the case on a table, bench, or counter.
- Keep your retainer away from pets or small children.
- When you participate in sports, take your retainer out and wear a mouth guard during games.
- If a wire breaks or something else happens to your retainer, don’t try to fix it yourself. Contact your orthodontist immediately.