Instructions for Wearing Your Retainers

As you may well know, a teeth retainer is essential to securing the hard-earned results from your orthodontic treatment. You can check out more information about orthodontic retainer types and comparisons when you set an appointment with our specialists, but we also consider it important to help patients know what to expect and how to use their retainers efficiently.

Contact our office today for your complimentary evaluation at 916-924-8970.


You’ll have to wear your retainer at all times unless your orthodontist instructs otherwise.

The reason why we emphasize this so much is that we wish to prevent orthodontic relapse. As your braces or other orthodontic appliance moves your teeth, the bone tissue around the base of each tooth dissolves and hardens back. Before the teeth settle into the right position and the bone hardens, you’ll experience a period where teeth can slide back into malalignment.

A retainer prevents just that.

In case you’re wearing a removable retainer, you can take it out during mealtimes, but please remember to put it back in its case, as most cases where a patient loses theirs are during school or work lunch breaks and visits to a restaurant.

Trust us; wrapping your retainer in a napkin will only get it lost.


Clean your retainers with a toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste. You can also use abundant water and liquid soap. Brushing your retainers will help remove any leftover food particles, excess saliva, and plaque to avoid unpleasant odors.

Even though you can find orthodontic appliance cleaners, you should never stop brushing your retainers regularly. Those products DO NOT substitute brushing but rather complement it. Click here to learn more about brushing and flossing your teeth during orthodontics.

You can clean your retainer thoroughly once a day, and it should be enough. Patients with removable retainers should take them off during mealtimes to avoid getting food debris stuck in them.


Your retainers are made of resilient and durable materials, but they may still break. Pet parents should never leave their retainers out in the open. Pets, especially dogs, love to chew on them, so you should ALWAYS place your removable retainers in their case when not wearing them.

Treat yours with care and brush them gently. If you break them or lose your retainers, call us immediately to arrange for a replacement. What happens if you don’t wear your retainer for a day? Not much, but you don’t want to give your teeth any time to slide back into malalignment and waste your time and energy from the orthodontic treatment.


  • You will notice your speech changes a little bit when you start wearing your retainers. Practice speaking and reading, or even singing out loud, to get used to the new appliance much faster.
  • If you feel they’re too tight and hurting you, call us for an adjustment. Don’t try to adjust the retainer yourself.
  • Bring your retainer with you on every appointment with your orthodontist.
  • Patients with a removable appliance, such as the Hawley Retainers, should take them off during sports, especially contact sports or swimming, to avoid damage and losing them.
  • Patients with clear plastic retainers, such as Essix Retainers, or Invisalign® Retainers, should avoid using hot water to clean the trays, as it can deform the appliance. Likewise, avoid placing the trays on hot car dashboards, pockets, and dishwasher machines to prevent damage or warping their shape.