daughter and mother hug after receiving their replacement retainers

Know When It’s Time to Replace Your Retainer for Lifelong Results

So you got a great smile from Spillers Orthodontics and your braces or clear aligner treatment is finally complete!

Now that you’re done with your orthodontic treatment and you’re loving your smile, do you plan on keeping your new smile for a lifetime? Of course you do! After all the hard work you dedicated to creating your smile, you deserve to enjoy it for years to come.

Wearing your retainer consistently is how you keep your new smile in perfect condition.

Like many things in life, retainers need to be replaced when they start to show signs of wear and tear. Fortunately, if you commit to proper retainer care, you’ll be able to wear your retainer for a while before you need to consider a replacement retainer!

Here’s what you need to know about replacing your retainer when it’s time:

How often should you replace your retainer?

How often you should replace your retainer depends on how well you take care of it. If you tend to leave your retainer in napkins, mistake it for trash and throw it away, or you leave your retainer on the table and your dog gets a hold of it, you’re probably going to be visiting us for a replacement retainer sooner than later!

At Spillers Orthodontics, we provide a custom, clear, removable Essix retainer to patients who’ve completed their braces or clear aligner treatment with us. We make this clear retainer in our offices and it expertly holds your beautiful, new smile in place!

If properly cared for, Essix retainers may last 10 to 15 years before they need to be replaced. Here are a few ways to tell if you need to replace your retainer sooner:

4 Signs that Indicate You Need a Replacement Retainer

1. Cracked retainer

If you notice some small cracks in your retainer, or you dropped it and it created a large crack, this indicates that you’ll need to replace your retainer.

Over time, small cracks will progress into larger cracks, which will reduce the effectiveness of your retainer and create additional spaces for bacteria to grow. Bacteria growth is the last thing you want! Wearing a dirty retainer can lead to bad breath, cavities and gum disease.

2. Retainer Has Holes

Holes in your retainer is another sign that you need a replacement! This can also point to signs of unintentional damage— whether the holes are from abrasive toothpaste or grinding your teeth. If you brush your retainer with toothpaste, over time it can scratch and wear holes in your retainer. Another reason why your retainer may have holes is because of an improper fit (which we’ll discuss later on).

Bruxism is the most common reason behind this type of retainer damage. Stress or anxiety can cause you to grind your teeth during the day or at night. When you grind your teeth the force is equal to a hundred pounds of pressure so it’s no wonder your retainer has holes! If this is the case, be sure to inform us right away so we can get you a replacement.

3. Chipped retainer

Similar to a cracked retainer, a chipped retainer must be replaced as soon as possible. Chips can reduce the effectiveness of your retainer, and they can damage your cheeks or tongue if the chips create any sharp ends.

It’s never a good idea to fit a chipped or cracked retainer in your mouth. You don’t want pieces of your retainer falling off or your tongue getting nicked by a crack.

4. Retainer no longer fits

Your retainer may become loose or feel like it fits too tight after a while. Retainers naturally start to loosen up over time, as they wear down. It’s important to fix a loose retainer, because your teeth are no longer being supported by your retainer, which means they’re likely to shift out of place!

When the teeth shift out of place, or ‘relapse’, you may need another orthodontic treatment to realign them. Taking care of your retainer and replacing it when necessary will ensure that you keep the smile you worked so hard for.

How to Know if Your Retainer is Fitting Correctly

Your retainer should feel snug when it’s in place, but it shouldn’t be painful. If your teeth are throbbing when your retainer is in place, or it gives you a headache, these are signs that your retainer may not fit properly.

It’s important that you never force your retainer in your mouth. If you can’t fit it back in your mouth easily, please contact us and we’ll take a look and make any necessary adjustments!

If your retainer falls out of your mouth when you speak, or it moves out of place without you adjusting it, these are signs that it’s too loose. Loose retainers should be replaced as soon as possible!

How to care for your retainer so it lasts a long time

The best way to prolong your retainer’s life is by keeping it in a retainer case when it’s not in your mouth so that you don’t lose it. Many retainers get thrown away in lunchrooms and restaurant napkins. Keep retainers away from hot water, hot car dashboards, pockets, the washing machine and strong chemicals. It’s also important to keep your retainers clean by brushing them with toothpaste and a toothbrush once per day. Efferdent or other orthodontic appliance cleaners can be used but do not take the place of brushing.

How do I get a new retainer?

You simply contact our team or fill out an appointment request form and let us know that you need a replacement retainer when we contact you!

If you weren’t previously one of our patients, we can still create a new retainer for you. We will discuss retainer costs when you visit us or reach out to us.

Still have questions about replacement retainers?

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions! Our orthodontists, Dr. Spillers and Dr. Gordon, are the most experienced in the area. We’re here to guide you through your treatment process, from your very first visit, to your last appointment.

If you’re looking for a top orthodontist in Warner Robins or Macon, we’d love to meet you! Request a complimentary exam for you or your child today.

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