Traditional braces are still a very common sight, especially when it comes to teens or preteens. In fact, it’s getting more popular to see them in adults as well. No matter the type of braces you choose, whether it’s traditional, Invisalign, etc. you will most likely have a retainer for long term use after the treatment ends. This is so you can ensure that your teeth stay straight through all the basic adjustments they’ll make throughout life. It’s normal for basic changes to occur to your teeth as you age and the retainer allows your teeth to keep that straight, pretty smile as the years go by. Keep reading for more information on your retainer and care after braces.

What Does the Retainer Look Like?

No worries, the retainer used is a clear tray, not the metal, wired retainer you might be thinking of. Leaving wire against the teeth long term, over a period of years wouldn’t be good for them. Those types of retainers are only used for short term treatment. If you’ve ever seen Invisalign, it’s a clear tray that’s created from a mold taken of your teeth. These are often sent off to a lab so that they can be expertly matched and fitted to each specific patient. The retainers often are given after braces look just like this. There will be a clear tray for the top of your teeth and a second for the bottom.

How Do I Take Care of the Retainers?

Using toothpaste directly on the retainers is usually not suggested. In fact, antibacterial soap often works the best. Toothpaste can leave the retainers cloudy after time passes. Antibacterial soap will ensure the retainers are thoroughly cleaned and it won’t cause any clouding. Further, if rinsed properly, it won’t leave any taste behind. The best time to wear them is when you’re sleeping. Be sure they’re clean before putting them on for the night and clean them when removing them. Always store them in a protective case as replacing them can be a minimum of $300+. Most orthodontist offices will allow one free replacement if the destruction of the retainers was out of the patient’s hands.

It’s important to note that if you have to get the retainers replaced, new molds will have to be taken of your teeth. This means that if your teeth have shifted at all, your new retainers will match this shift. Your first set of retainers are the best because these will reflect your teeth right after the braces have been removed. Especially if you haven’t worn your retainers as often as you should have, the next set of retainers will only keep your teeth corrected as they are at the point the new mold was taken.

Retainers do not have to constantly be worn. However, if you want to retain that beautiful smile, wearing them overnight as often as possible is the best way to retain that perfect smile.