Once you make the choice to improve and straighten your smile with braces or clear aligners, you want to do everything you can to maintain your investment. After you complete your course of braces or aligners, your orthodontist will recommend a retainer, worn continuously or just at night, to keep your teeth from returning to their previous positions.
Diligently wearing your retainer will preserve your new smile. But it is also essential that your retainer is in good shape so that it can do its job. Retainers do not last forever. They can become misshapen, worn, or cracked over time. When this happens, they will not be able to work correctly, and it may be a good idea for you to replace your retainer as soon as possible.
How Often Do Retainers Need to be Replaced?
Retainers can be made with various materials and will wear at different rates. Feel free to ask about the typical lifespan of the type of retainer you wear. Also, ask about the signs of wear that are common with your retainer.
Depending on the type of retainer you get, it can last anywhere from six months to several years. To ensure your retainer continues to be effective, check it often for signs of wear and practice good cleaning and care to extend your retainer’s life.
Signs of Retainer Wear
There are a few signs of retainer wear and tear that you should keep an eye out for. These signs may be small at first and become more noticeable over time. It is important to get your retainer replaced as soon as you notice any signs of wear because even small indications of wear may mean your retainer is not going a great job at keeping your teeth in place.
Cracks or Damage
Cracks in your retainer are a sign it is time for a replacement. A crack in the material will eventually compromise the fit and function of your retainer. Make a habit of checking your retainer often for cracks. Even a very tiny crack will continue to grow as you use your retainer.
Although you can continue to wear a retainer that has a small crack, as long as it is not split, it will need to be replaced. Contact us as soon as you find a crack in your retainer.
Loose or Uncomfortable Fit
Over time, your retainer can simply stretch out and become loose. If you feel that your retainer is becoming loose, it may not be working as well to keep your teeth in place.
A poor fit may also be the result of cleaning your retainer in very hot water or with harsh chemicals, which can compromise the material and impact its shape. Like a retainer that has stretched, any incorrect fit can mean your retainer is not working properly, and you may need to have it replaced.
Even with perfect habits when it comes to cleaning and care, calcium build-up on a retainer is common. This can make clear retainers more visible and can affect the fit and effectiveness of your retainer. If you notice build-up on your retainer that is not coming off with regular cleaning or that makes your retainer feel like it does not fit as well, contact our office to see if it’s time for a new retainer.
Proper Retainer Care
Taking great care of your retainer will help lengthen its lifespan, meaning you can go longer before needing to get a replacement. In addition, keeping your retainer clean and in good condition will decrease your risk of dental problems such as gum disease and cavities.
Keep it Clean
Clean your retainer right after removing it by brushing it with a separate toothbrush or denture brush. This will prevent debris and calcium from hardening onto its surface and will also prevent the spread of bacteria.
You can also soak your retainer in warm water with a mild soap before you brush it to loosen debris. Ask your orthodontist how often to soak your retainer and whether or not you should use specific products or chemicals.
Always store your retainer in its case when you are not wearing it so that it doesn’t get lost or damaged. Keep the container clean as it can also carry bacteria and debris that can affect your retainer.
Make an Appointment
If you suspect your retainer is damaged, or if the fit feels wrong, contact our office to find out if it is time for a replacement. If your retainer is not as clean as you would like, we may be able deep clean your retainer or let you know how to best do so yourself. We are here to help you make sure your retainer lasts as long as possible and keeps your new smile looking great!