After undergoing months of intensive orthodontic treatment to improve your smile, you tend to walk out of the final appointment extremely committed to following all the aftercare instructions your orthodontist provides you regarding wearing your retainers. After all, you want to do everything you can to keep your teeth straight. Unfortunately, sometimes that dedication and commitment to following instructions tend to lessen and before you know it, you are completely neglecting your retainer.

Think it isn’t a big deal that you aren’t wearing your retainer? Think again. Learn about some of the things that can happen if you neglect your retainer.

Bacteria Can Grow on the Retainer if Not Properly Cleaned

Failure to properly clean retainers is one of the most common forms of retainer neglect that we see at an orthodontist office. People fail to properly clean their retainer because they are running short on time, don’t know the proper way to clean their retainer, or just don’t know that retainers need to be cleaned.

Retainers come into direct contact with a lot of things ranging from sugars and acids to bacteria and food particles. Cleaning your retainer will not only prevent bacteria that can harm your teeth and cause tooth decay from growing on it, but it will extend the lifetime of the retainer.

The following tips will help you keep your retainer properly cleaned:

  • Use cool water and a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean your retainer. Don’t use toothpaste because it has abrasive particles that will scratch and dull them.

  • Clean your retainer at least once a day.

  • Clean your retainer immediately if it has been exposed to sugar or acids.

  • Your retainer can be soaked in the dentures solution to help deep clean them

Teeth Start to Shift Without a Retainer

Many people assume that because the orthodontic treatment worked so well that they no longer have to wear their retainers. That isn’t the case. If you fail to wear your retainer, your teeth will slowly shift and you will end up with crooked or misaligned teeth.

The teeth naturally want to shift, many times back toward their original positions. Your retainers keep your teeth straight by preventing them from shifting and moving after orthodontic treatment.

Of course, failing to wear your retainer one day isn’t going to mean you will wake up with a completely distorted smile. However, if you continue to neglect your retainer and don’t wear it as you are supposed to, you will slowly notice changes in your smile and eventually, your teeth will be misaligned.

To prevent your teeth from shifting, do the following:

  • Retainers need to be worn every night to maintain your smile. The longer you go without it your teeth will shift. If you find that it is difficult to get them in and out then more than likely you should be wearing them more often!

  • Retainers will need to be worn for your entire life if you wish to keep your teeth straight. Even if you never received orthodontic treatment your teeth will shift with age so if you want to keep your current smile throughout your life, we still suggest wearing a retainer at night.

  • Your retainers could last many years, but if they are lost or broken, new ones can be made.  The sooner you get to your orthodontist when you encounter a problem like this, the better. The longer you wait, the more likely you will have significant shifting.

  • Do not leave your retainers out in the sun or rinse them in hot water. This may cause them to warp, and your teeth will shift.

  • When not wearing your retainers, always keep them in your retainer case. Never wrap them in a napkin or leave them out on a table. This only makes them more likely to be thrown out or chewed by a pet!

Has it been a while since you have worn your retainer?  If so, it is time that you see Dr. Horne before your teeth have more time to shift.  Call Smiling Springs Orthodontics today to schedule an appointment 719-487-9303. Dr. Horne will be able to assess your individual case and determine if you just need a new retainer or if your teeth have shifted so much that you may need to undergo orthodontic treatment.