Once patients have undergone orthodontic treatment, they’ll most likely be advised by their orthodontist to use a retainer in order to maintain that straight, beautiful smile. In many cases, patients will need to wear their retainer constantly for six months up to a year in order to see the best results. After that initial designated amount of time, orthodontists typically recommend nightly wearing to prevent shifting teeth.
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But should you be wearing the same retainer this entire time? Retainers don’t last forever, so how do you know when it’s time for a replacement? The following signs indicate you might need a new retainer to stay on top of your dental maintenance.
If you’ve had your retainer for close to a year or longer, you may notice the material has worn down. You might be noticing small cracks, chips, or dents in your retainer. Even if these damages start small, they’ll only get bigger. A damaged retainer will end up losing its structural integrity and stop doing its job in no time, leaving you with a worthless piece of wire or plastic in your mouth that has stopped keeping your teeth straight.
You might notice that after a while your retainer begins to lose its shape and doesn’t fit as well as when you first got it. A common mistake people make is cleaning their retainer in the dishwasher or with very hot water. This can cause the retainer to warp and lose its shape.
If you haven’t been wearing your retainer regularly, your teeth may start to shift which can alter the fit of your retainer. An important thing to remember is that a retainer that doesn’t fit is also a retainer that doesn’t work—if this is the case, it’s time to get a replacement.
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Calcium buildup can cause your retainer to show large white “dirty” areas, even despite regular cleanings. This buildup can be a breeding ground for bacteria and increase your risk for throat and mouth infections and illnesses. If you can’t get rid of calcium buildup with a denture cleaner or a vinegar soak, it’s time to get a replacement retainer.
This one’s obvious, but important. Life happens, and just as you may have lost your phone, keys, or wallet in the past, you might also lose your retainer. If you lose your retainer, you should make it a top priority to get a replacement as soon as possible. The longer you go without a retainer, the greater chance your teeth will move out of place.
To avoid the chances of losing your retainer, establish a good routine and place you put your retainer each time you take it out.
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If you keep an eye out for signs you need to replace your retainer, maintaining a straight and beautiful smile is easy. Do you have questions about orthodontic maintenance, aligners and mouth guards, or ways to achieve a perfect smile?
Contact Cascadia Dental Specialists today!
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