The Humphrey Orthodontics locations in Wentzville and St. Peters have been rejuvenating smiles for many years. But, transforming a smile involves more than regular brushing and braces. Those might represent crucial steps. But once braces straighten a smile, we must work to maintain it. Patients principally maintain their smiles with a retainer. In this blog, you’ll learn why cleaning and caring for a retainer is important.
Reason #1: Preserving Your New Smile
As you know, braces straighten your teeth over time. Retainers help them stay that way. Just because you’ve spent many months in braces doesn’t mean your teeth will remain in their new position. Preserving this new position doesn’t happen automatically. A retainer does just what it says; it helps your teeth retain the position your braces treatment moved them to.
When we designed your retainer, our Humphrey Orthodontics team structured it for your teeth. Just like your braces, we engineered your retainer for you specifically. We do not practice any one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, your retainer fits your teeth and no one else’s. If you don’t give your retainer proper care, it won’t fit how it was intended. If it doesn’t fit, it can’t retain your new smile. This leads us to the next reason
Reason #2: Those Stubborn Teeth
Remember — teeth are stubborn. If orthodontists could move them easily and quickly from one place to another, we definitely would! We’d love to wave a magic wand, watch your teeth form new positions, and rest easy. But it doesn’t work that way. That’s why braces take so much time.
But it’s likely that your teeth will want to revert to their original positions. Your retainer keeps them from doing that. That’s why you’ve got to clean it regularly. If you desire an optimal smile, you must ensure that your retainer functions optimally.
Reason #3: Dental Health and Mental Health
Let the world see your new smile. You put in the work, the time, and the money. It’s time to reap the emotional rewards of all that work. Smiling is good for you. And the evidence for that isn’t just anecdotal. When you smile, your body releases serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. These neurotransmitters cause physiological changes in your body. You’ll feel better about yourself, have more confidence, and enjoy overall improved mental well-being. So clean your retainer and maintain it. Your brain will thank you.
Cleaning Different Retainers
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. Humphrey before committing to a particular cleaning method. They 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.
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 the doctors 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. You can leave your retainer in denture cleaner if that doesn’t quite cut it. 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 the doctors issue you a retainer, it is customized to fit your mouth. With proper oversight, an Essix retainer can last very long.
To maintain the integrity of your Essix retainer, brush and floss it before putting it on. When the time comes to remove it, clean it straight away. Leaving saliva in it to dry gives bacteria free rein. Like 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 necessary, you can place an Essix retainer in the denture solution.
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