After months of braces, tightenings, clear aligner swap-outs, checkups, and no popcorn, you’re finally ready to see your gorgeous new smile! Now that you’re finished with your braces or clear aligners treatment, you don’t have to worry about anything else. While your treatment may be done, you still have to work to maintain that beautiful new smile. That’s where your clear retainers come in! Plastic retainers are clear like your clear aligners, but rather than moving your teeth, clear retainers keep your teeth in place. That way, you can enjoy your beautiful new smile for years to come.
Smith Orthodontics proudly offers treatment with clear aligners from Invisalign and 3M Clarity, as well as treatment with clear braces. Once those treatments are done, we use clear retainers to maintain that beautiful new smile. What are clear retainers? How long will you need to wear plastic retainers? Here are some facts you might want to know about your clear retainers.
What Are Clear Retainers?
Plastic retainers or clear retainers look a lot like clear aligners such as Invisalign, but they work differently. While Invisalign moves your teeth, clear retainers hold our teeth in place so that they don’t move after your braces or clear aligners are removed.
How do we make plastic retainers? They are made the same way as clear aligners. We start with a digital scan of your beautiful new smile. We use those scans to custom-mold your clear retainers to fit your teeth exactly. We’ll cut them so that they fit along your gums. Because they’re clear, they will look nearly invisible against your teeth. This allows you to wear your retainers, keep your smile straight, and do it all with very few noticing you’re even wearing a retainer.
What’s the Point of Using Plastic Retainers?
You’ve gone through all those months with braces or clear aligners, so why do you need clear retainers? It has to do with your braces or clear aligners. They work by training your teeth to move by loosening the ligaments and bones around them. However, it takes a bit of time for everything to loosen up and get used to moving.
It also takes time for your teeth to stop moving. Until then, they’ll continue shifting around unless there is something to hold them in place. It can take months for your teeth to stop moving and set properly.
Your new retainers keep your teeth in place and ensure your perfect smile stays that way. Your retainers keep your teeth in the same spot and keep them from shifting while your ligaments tighten and your jaw hardens over time. This only works, however, if you wear your retainers as prescribed.
You’ll wear your retainers for 22 hours a day for the first few months, removing them only for eating, drinking liquids that might stain, brushing, or flossing. After your jaw has set, you should be able to reduce your retainer time to overnight use.
How to Clean Clear Retainers
Ideally, you’ll need to wear your retainers overnight for the rest of your life. That seems like a long time, but they can last for years and even decades with proper care. Here are some tips on retaining your retainers:
- Store them in a protective case when not in your mouth
- Keep them away from kids and pets who will damage them
- Never wrap your retainers in a napkin or other material when out and about, or you might accidentally throw them in the trash
- Remove your retainers to eat or to drink staining liquids like coffee, tea, fruit juice, or soda
- Keep your retainers clean!
The last one may be the most important because the last thing you want to do is put dirty, bacteria-infused retainers back into your mouth! Yuck! The first step is to rinse your retainers in lukewarm water every time you remove them from your mouth. Never use hot water, as that can damage your retainers.
To clean your retainers properly, you can use a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean plaque from the grooves and indentations of the retainers, such as where they fit over your molars. You’ll want to do this with a wet toothbrush, but never with toothpaste because its abrasive ingredients can scratch your retainers. You may not see the scratches at first, but they will build up over time and make your clear retainers cloudy.
Once you’ve brushed off the excess plaque, you want to soak your retainers in a cleanser specifically made for clear retainers and aligners. You can find the tablets at most major retailers and pharmacies. If you’re in a pinch, use a mild, clear liquid soap and warm water. Rinse them well, or you’ll be tasting liquid soap.
With the right care and due diligence, your retainers will last for years.
How Long Do Retainers Last?
If cared for properly, your retainers can last for many years, if not your lifetime. The key is to keep them clean and store them properly. Your retainers will likely last for several decades, though they may become discolored over time, especially if you drink dark liquids while they’re in and don’t clean them properly.
In short, your retainers will last about as long as you’re willing to care for them properly.
Clear Retainers in Wichita, KS
Your clear retainers come after treatment with braces or clear aligners, and Smith Orthodontics can get you started on either one. Start with scheduling an in-office consult, and we will bring you in for a full examination and evaluation. We’ll lay out your options and help you decide what treatment is best for you. Once your treatment is complete, we’ll prepare your clear retainers to ensure that your gorgeous smile stays that way!