Changing & Cleaning Your Retainer

Changing & Cleaning Your Retainer
Posted on 03/21/2018

Colorful orthodontic retainers

At the office of Dr. Carole Randolph, we proudly provide expert orthodontic treatments to patients of all ages throughout the Valencia, CA area. While orthodontic treatments like braces and Invisalign represent the majority of the work we do, every patient needs to wear a retainer after finishing the active phase of treatment. But once you've worn your retainer for a while, how do you know when you need to replace it? And how do you properly clean your retainer? Before we answer these questions, let's look at why you need a retainer in the first place.


Why Do I Need a Retainer?

Retention therapy is a vital part of any successful orthodontic treatment. No matter what treatment method you use, you'll need to go through some form of retention phase after finishing treatment. This is because even though your teeth will be in new positions at the end of treatment, the bones, ligaments, and underlying structures supporting them have not yet adapted to those new positions. Left to their own devices, your teeth will actually migrate back to their old alignment and erase your hard work! Retention ensures this doesn't happen and protects your new smile.


When Do I Need to Change My Retainer?

While retainers are long-lasting, they don't last forever. Eventually, you'll need to replace your retainer due to breakage, poor fit, or just normal wear and tear. Here's a simple explanation for the three main reasons to replace a retainer:

  • Breakage: One of the most common causes for needing a new retainer is breaking. If your retainer has a crack or breaks in any way, it's vital to replace it as soon as possible. A broken retainer cannot sufficiently maintain the alignment of your teeth, so be sure to replace a broken retainer right away.
  • Poor Fit: If you aren't diligent with retainer wear or can't access your retainer for some time, it's possible for teeth to migrate to old positions. If you find your retainer isn't fitting well, you may need to get a new one. We can work with you to fit you with a new retainer, and we may be able to use progressive retention therapy to gently guide your teeth back to optimal alignment without full-blown orthodontic treatment.
  • Wear & Tear: Eventually, your retainer will get worn down from regular use. If you start to notice that the edges of your retainer are worn, the wire isn't as thick as it once was, or your retainer just looks worn out, it may be time for a new one.

How to Clean a Retainer

To protect the health of your teeth and ensure your retainer lasts as long as possible, it's vital to keep your retainer clean. You can clean your retainer by brushing it with a toothbrush, just as you would your teeth. Occasionally, you may want to soak your retainer in a glass with  50%vinegar or hydrogen peroxide and 50% water for a deeper clean. Brushing and occasional soaking will keep your retainer clean and fresh, helping it last longer and protecting teeth from bacteria.


Contact Your Santa Clarita Valley, CA Orthodontist

We hope you found this guide helpful and we wish you luck in caring for your retainer. If you have more questions about retention care or want to schedule a consultation for orthodontic treatment, we'd love to help! Feel free to reach out to us at our contact page to learn more about our treatments and schedule an appointment. We can't wait to hear from you!