Retainer Wear and Care Instructions

By January 23, 2017 July 7th, 2017 Blog, Life After braces, Maintenance

Retainer Wear and Care Instructions

Time to get your braces off? Congrats! Having your braces taken off is definitely a cause for celebration. However, your orthodontic care is not over. After braces come retainers. Retainers hold your teeth in place after your orthodontic treatment and prevent them from shifting back toward their original positions. Because teeth continue to move throughout life, the only way to keep your teeth straight after braces is by practicing proper retainer wear.

Guidelines for Proper Retainer Wear

To make your treatment last, follow these simple guidelines for proper retainer wear and care:

  • Wear your retainers full-time for 12 weeks following the removal of your braces, or for as long as Dr. Dougherty instructs.
  • Initially, you may find that your speech sounds different. This is normal and will go away within a few days. Practice speaking, reading, or singing out loud to speed up the process.
  • Take your retainers out while eating or playing sports, and always put them back into their case! (Retainers are easily lost if placed on a tray or kept in a napkin while eating.)
  • Clean the retainer thoroughly once a day with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Use warm but not hot water. Brushing the retainers will eliminate plaque and odors.
  • Do not soak your retainers in any denture cleaners or mouthwash. This can cause discoloration.
  • Keep retainers away from hot water, hot car dashboards, pockets, washing machines, and napkins.
  • When your retainer is not in your mouth, it should always be in its case. Pets love to chew on retainers, so please keep your retainers safe and in their case!
  • Always bring your retainers to your orthodontic appointments, as we may need to adjust them.
  • Retainer replacements are expensive, so treat yours with care. If your retainer gets lost or broken, call us immediately.

How Long Should I Wear My Retainers?

Unlike past orthodontists, we now recommend that you wear your retainers for the rest of your life after braces. Research has shown that the teeth continue to shift throughout life. Wearing your retainers nightly for a lifetime, following 12 weeks of full-time retainer wear, will keep your smile straight and gorgeous!

For more info, check out our previous blog post: Why You Should Wear Your Retainer for Life.

Have questions about proper retainer wear and care? Contact us. Call St. Louis orthodontist, Dr. Dougherty, at 636.825.1000 or email