Let’s talk about retainers, Baby.

Your smile is a lifetime investment, one that takes nightly deposits.

Intan Lay

Editor

Apr 12, 21

4 min read

After you complete your smile makeover journey at Vogue Dental Studios – whether it be veneers, or Invisalign, or braces, you will be provided with an aftercare retainer. Having gone through both Invisalign and veneers myself, I genuinely know the importance of having a retainer and would love to impart my wisdom onto others. It is a truly money-saving hack that is often overlooked.

Now, I’m not a dentist, a hygienist or a dental nurse. I am a patient. I know retainers can be a pain in a back side. It’s not flattering to wear, it gets dirty (and smelly) quickly, and it’s a very forgettable item – especially at sleepovers, weekend getaways or even holidays. I know, we’ve all been there where it comes to bedtime, we take out our toothbrushes and look through our toiletry bag for our retainers and think oh crap, I left it at home….. oh well, life goes on. But think of it as an important item to have, like, your phone charger for example. Your phone will not function, power or be usable in any way if it doesn’t have any battery or charge, it will be rendered useless and cannot live without it. Your teeth, however, can live without your retainers but it shouldn’t, especially after you have spent thousands of dollars on treatment.

The dentist isn’t making you wear a retainer for fun, it genuinely has a purpose. I mean, if you think about it, if they wanted you to constantly fork out money, they wouldn’t make you wear one at all so your teeth could shift or chip and you’ll have to continually go back to fix it.

Still not convinced? Here are some incentives on why you should love and respect your retainers:

  • Protection - Wearing retainers is a great way to protect your teeth and smile from the damaging effects of minor grinding and jaw clenching. (1)
  • Retention - Whether you’ve had braces or not, with age and time, your teeth can possibly shift. Wearing your retainer will help prevent your teeth from moving. (2) There are many factors that can contribute to teeth shifting in life including the changing shape of your jaw as you age or continuous pressure from eating or sleeping (i.e., the constant pressure of sleeping on your face or side of your face).  
  • Custom-fit - Your retainer is made for you and you only. The custom fit has two benefits; a), it fits snugly to your teeth to stop them from moving and b), you can double up and use it as a whitening tray (IF you have the clear plastic retainers). (3)
  • Saving Money - The protection and benefits of retainer wearing will hopefully mean you won’t need additional dental work because you chipped a tooth grinding or because your teeth have shifted back after you’ve had braces! (4) And take it from me, forcing yourself to remember this habit every night will reinforce general dental hygiene as well.

So, how often should you clean your retainer? Great question. Cleaning them habitually will ensure it’s less grimy/smelly and more comfortable to wear. However, if you clean them too much, you can actually damage them if you’re using anything abrasive. A gentle daily clean with a very soft bristled toothbrush or even just water is enough. A proper soak should be done weekly with a retainer or denture cleaner to keep it fresh and prolong its life. Using the wrong substance or product can be very damaging to your retainers, even if you’re using a bit of toothpaste. This can cause it to wear out faster and potentially break. Please check with your dentist for some recommendations or brands.

Though long lasting, your retainer won’t live forever. We advise getting it replaced as soon as you see any sign of wear and tear such as cracks or splits. It is important to do so immediately because these cracks or splits will make the retainer less effective. General plastic retainers should last you anywhere from 1-3 years if properly taken care of. Thick grinding splints can last up to five years. Always make sure you keep your retainer in a safe case when not in use (like you would for your Rolex or diamond ring, yes it's that important). This will protect your retainer from dust, bacteria and even the dog - believe me, if dogs can eat your homework, they can eat your retainers too! 

Written By

Intan Lay

An appreciator of art, novels and high intensity sports. With a passion for work and a dangerous addiction to coffee.

Protect your smile

Whether as protection or prevention, retainers can help prolong your smile. Find out if a retainer is suitable for you.

Sources

1. Okeson JP. The effects of hard and soft occlusal splints on nocturnal bruxism. J Am Dent Assoc. 1987;114(6):788–91.

2. Rowland H, Hichens L, Williams A, Hills D, Killingback N, Ewings P, et al. The effectiveness of Hawley and vacuum-formed retainers: a single-center randomized controlled trial. Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 2007;132(6):730–7.

3. Burrows S. A review of the efficacy of tooth bleaching. Dent Update. 2009;36(9):537–8, 541–4, 547-8 passim.

4. Hichens L, Rowland H, Williams A, Hollinghurst S, Ewings P, Clark S, et al. Cost-effectiveness and patient satisfaction: Hawley and vacuum-formed retainers. Eur J Orthod. 2007;29(4):372–8.