After you’ve completed your treatment plan with SmileDirectClub, your smile has never looked better. A retainer ensures you can maintain that look.
“Teeth always want to go back to where they started,” says Chelsey McCarver, a dental hygienist who manages the dental team at SmileDirectClub. “If you don’t retain them, it’s very likely they’ll go back to where they started. You don’t want to lose that investment.”
That’s where a retainer comes in. SmileDirectClub retainers aren’t the metal and banded gear of bad teen movies — our retainers boast a slim profile of clear plastic custom-molded to your mouth. But you still need to take care of them.
“I’ve seen people throw them in their dishwasher, boil them, not clean them at all and not wear them,” says McCarver. And all of those folks ended up with unusable retainers.
Here’s what else you need to know about your retainer, so you don’t become one of McCarver’s cautionary tales.
Retainers prevent your teeth from shifting back to their original position. Your teeth have already moved, but your bones, gums and mouth still need to adjust to the new alignment of your teeth. Retainers are custom-fitted from a harder plastic than the aligners and ensure your teeth stay right where you want them to be.
This varies by treatment. At SmileDirectClub, we recommend wearing the retainer at all times for two weeks and then just at night long-term, for at least eight hours each night. The longer you wear them, the less likely your teeth are to shift back to where they were.
Here’s how to clean retainers: Rinse the retainer with cold or warm water (never, ever hot water) and store it in its container when not in use. If your retainer really looks dirty, you can brush it lightly with a soft brush (no toothpaste, please) or soak in a water and soap bath, again with lukewarm or cool water. You can also purchase cleaning tablets from SmileDirectClub — just add them to a bowl or cup of water, let them dissolve and then soak your retainer.
And always brush and floss before putting in your retainer.
Heat damages retainers, so the best thing you can do to prolong the life of your retainer is to keep it cool. Don’t leave it in a hot car. Take it out if you’re going to drink hot coffee or tea (and don’t wrap it in a napkin or paper towel, which can lead to a cracked retainer). And never wash it in hot water (including dishwashers, which get hot). Also, never bite your retainer into place or remove it with a sharp object. Ouch.
The best practice is to clean the retainer regularly, store it in its container, and keep it cool. Ideally, you’ll replace them about every six months.