Blog Post

How to Best Care for Your Retainers


Orthodontic treatment is an investment that will last a lifetime! Retainers are a key part of maintaining your new beautiful smile. Here are our best tips and tricks to avoid losing, breaking, or causing your retainer to not fit anymore.

The Perfect Fit

Did you know that your teeth keep moving throughout your lifetime? It is true! Our teeth, like our entire bodies, are continuing to change throughout our lifetime. This means that even after orthodontic treatment changes in your tooth alignment may occur if retainers are not worn as prescribed by Dr. Jolley. If you forget to wear your retainer for even just a few days those slight movements can affect the fit of your retainer. This is why it is important to notify the office immediately if you lose or break your retainer.

Here’s how to know if your retainer is no longer fitting well and you need to call us:

  • Your retainers does not touch each of your teeth the way they used to.

  • It feels too tight or loose.

  • It feels painful or uncomfortable.

  • You feel pressure on your mouth and teeth that may cause headaches.

Lost Without It

Patients accidentally throw away their retainers ALL THE TIME! It is really common for someone to put their retainer in a napkin while they are eating and then accidentally throw it away or leave it on the table when dining out. Think about how small a retainer is and you can see how easy it is to misplace. We recommend deciding on a special spot where you always put your retainer when you are not wearing it and always keep it in its case.

Check out a few more tips to avoid losing your retainer:

  • Pick one that is brightly colored or with a fun design that is easy to see.

  • Get in the habit of bringing your retainer’s case with you when you’re away from home.

  • Make sure your case is labeled with your name and phone number so that someone can return it if found.

The Break Down

Here’s the breakdown – retainers are small and plastic. They break. In fact, we see broken retainers all the time. Depending on the damage, it may be possible to repair a broken retainer. It may also be easier just to replace it. If your retainer does get broken, let us know immediately. We want to get you back into a well-fitting retainer as soon as possible to avoid shifting teeth. The best way to keep your retainer from getting broken is to always keep it in its case when you’re not wearing it.

Check out a few more tips to avoid breaking your retainer:

  • Do not put it in your pocket. Retainers can get sat on and broken. We have even seen people forget their retainer is in their pocket and then get melted in the dryer when it went through the laundry!

  • Do not ever leave your retainer in the car. Cars can get so hot that it distorts or melts the plastic.

  • Do not leave your retainer around pets. You don’t want them to think it’s a chew toy!

Cleaning It

Out of everything you need to do, cleaning your retainer is the easiest way to properly care for it. Keep your retainer clean by gently brushing it daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and water. You can deep clean your retainer once a week with mild dish soap. (Be sure to rinse it well.) Avoid using very hot water so that you do not melt or warp it. And never, ever put it in the dishwasher.

Smile of a Lifetime

So what happens if you do lose or damage your retainer? Give us a call. It happens all the time and we’re here to help. Make sure to call us as soon as possible so that we can get you fixed up again. Our entire team is here to help you achieve – and maintain – a beautiful smile for your whole life!