Do Retainers Wear Out?

Just as important as correcting your smile with orthodontic treatment is making sure you keep your new smile. After all, it would be a shame to put the time and work in only to have your teeth start to move back. Thankfully, keeping your teeth straight after completing orthodontic treatment is fairly straightforward (no pun intended). You’ll get a retainer to wear that will keep your teeth in place and protect your smile. Because this appliance is so important, keeping it in good shape is key.

Can Retainers Wear Out?

Retainers are made with precision and care and are designed to last you a good amount of time. That being said, retainers aren’t designed to last a lifetime. Over time, the pressure from routine use along with the general breakdown of the materials will cause the retainer to start widening. This will change the fit and reduce its effectiveness in holding your teeth in place.

Keeping your teeth straight depends on you replacing your retainer before this happens, which is why you should keep an eye out for signs your retainer is wearing out.

Signs Your Retainer Needs to Be Replaced

As you put your retainer to good use, it will inevitably start to wear out. It’s not hard to tell that your retainer is getting old. Here are some of the most important signs to look out for.

  • Poor Fit: Retainers are designed to fit snugly into your teeth, whether you have clear Essix retainers or Hawley retainers. So if you notice that it’s getting harder to fit it into place or if it seems too loose, it could be a sign it’s time to replace your retainer.
  • Small Cracks: If your retainer is put to use for too long, the material may eventually start to give under the pressure. If you spot little cracks in your retainer, it’s best to replace it right away. Otherwise, the cracks will simply continue to grow.
  • Calcium Buildup: If you see little white spots starting to grow on your retainer, it’s most likely calcium deposits accumulating. While soaking your retainer in its tray while not in use can reduce this, it can sometimes be impossible to avoid. If you get to this point after regularly soaking your retainer, odds are it’s time to replace it anyway.

How to Care for Your Retainer

The simplest way to ensure your retainer stays in good shape is to keep it stored in its case away from heat when you take it out. Of course, you’ll also want to remember to take it out any time you consume something other than cold water, just like with Invisalign aligners. You’ll also most likely only have to wear your retainer at night, especially if you are a few months or longer removed from finishing orthodontic treatment. As mentioned before, it’s best to let them soak to help prevent bacteria and calcium buildup. Be sure to use specialized solutions or Invisalign’s soaking solution since other fluids, like mouthwash, can be too harsh and may cause your retainer to wear out faster.

To learn more about how to care for your retainer and best-practice for orthodontic appliances, contact Smith Orthodontics today!