Retainer Care

Retainer Care

Smiles in Progress

Taking Care of Your Retainer

A perfect smile is a lifelong commitment. Retainers play a crucial role in maintaining your newly straightened teeth. After the hard work of braces or aligners, it’s essential that your teeth remain in their corrected position. This is because the surrounding structures of your teeth — including gums, fibers, and bone — require time to reform and solidify, which can take anywhere between 6-12 months. Everyday activities like chewing, grinding, and clenching cause your teeth to shift over time, potentially leading to misalignment. That’s where the retainer comes in — it ensures that your teeth stay aligned and safeguards the investment you’ve made in your smile. Remember, you’ve worked hard to get to this stage! And just as your body undergoes changes throughout your life, so do your teeth.

This page provides a comprehensive guide on how to care for your retainers, ensuring your teeth stay straight and your smile remains beautiful.

Inserting and Removing Your Clear Retainer

To insert your retainer, gently push it over your front teeth first, then apply pressure using your fingertips to the tops of your molars until the retainer snaps into place. Avoid biting down on the retainer as this can cause damage.

To remove your retainer, use your fingertip on the inside of your back molar to slowly pull it from your molars. Repeat this process on the other side of your mouth. Once the retainer is disengaged from the molars on both sides, gently pry the retainer away from your teeth with your fingertips.

How Often Should You Wear Your Retainer?

Do you like your new smile? Oh yes! So, wear your retainers for as long as you want your teeth straight and that stellar smile. Make wearing retainers part of your daily routine, like brushing and flossing your teeth before going to bed.

As a general guideline, we recommend wearing your clear retainer full-time or for 20-22 hours per day for the first few months after braces removal. After this period, you can switch to wearing them only at night. Remember, the more you wear your retainer, the better you preserve that perfect smile!

Caring For Your Retainer

Caring for your retainer is crucial to both the health of your smile and the lifetime of your appliance. Below are some key do’s and don’ts when it comes to keeping your retainer in good condition:


  • Place in a plastic case with your name, address, and phone# on the inside when not wearing it… If it’s not in your mouth, it’s in the case! 
  • Insert and remove VERY CAREFULLY, first from the back
  • Remove when eating or drinking
  • After eating brush your teeth. 

To clean your retainer, use a soft toothbrush and lukewarm water. Make sure you rinse them very well. You can use denture/retainer cleaner a few times a week to keep them sparkling, if needed. 


  • Don’t put in a napkin/tissue. Someone may throw it out. 
  • Don’t put it in your pocket without a case. 
  • Don’t leave it out around pets. Dogs especially love chewing on them. 
  • Don’t flip, flick, or play with it in your mouth.
  • Don’t leave it in the sun, boil it, or microwave it. (Yes, that’s probably happened to someone.) 

Replacing Your Retainer

  • If you notice small cracks or tears. These affect the strength of the retainer and also allow for bacteria to fill the crack and grow (gross, we know)! This can lead to bad breath and plaque buildup leading to possible cavities and gum disease.
  • If plastic is clouded or very stained. If your retainers seem to have a white or yellow film on them – those are calcium deposits from your saliva. Bacteria love living in that so you have to either scrub to get rid of it or get a new one. That layer will no longer allow the plastic to hug and hold your tooth properly.   
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