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How To Care For Dental Appliances, Such As Braces And Retainers

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Ensuring proper care and maintenance for your dental appliances is crucial in order to protect your oral health and ensure the effectiveness of your treatment. Whether you are wearing braces or retainers, it is important to follow a strict routine to keep your appliances clean and in good condition. Failure to do so can result in plaque buildup, tooth decay, and even damage to the appliances themselves. In this blog post, we will provide you with essential tips on how to properly care for your dental appliances, ensuring that your treatment is successful and your oral health remains intact.

Key Takeaways:

  • Keep appliances clean: It’s crucial to maintain good oral hygiene by regularly brushing and flossing to prevent plaque buildup on braces and retainers. This helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Avoid certain foods: Sticky, chewy, and hard foods can damage dental appliances. It’s important to avoid these types of foods to prevent breakage or damage to the braces or retainers.
  • Regular maintenance and check-ups: Regular visits to the orthodontist are essential for adjusting braces and ensuring they are working effectively. Additionally, retainers should be cleaned and checked for proper fit regularly to maintain their effectiveness.

Caring for Braces

Obviously, wearing braces requires special care and attention to ensure they are effective and comfortable. Proper maintenance is crucial for the success of your orthodontic treatment. Here are some essential tips for caring for your braces to keep them in good condition and achieve the best results.

Daily Cleaning Techniques

When you have braces, it’s important to brush your teeth after every meal and floss at least once a day. Your orthodontist may also recommend using a special interdental brush or water flosser to clean around the brackets and wires. It’s best to avoid hard or sticky foods that can get stuck in your braces and make them difficult to clean.

Handling and Preventing Damage

Be mindful of the way you handle your braces to prevent damage. Avoid chewing on hard objects such as ice, pens, or pencils, as this can bend or break your braces. If a bracket or wire becomes loose or breaks, contact your orthodontist immediately for repair. It’s important to follow their guidelines to avoid prolonging your treatment time.

Dietary Recommendations

When you have braces, it’s essential to adjust your diet to avoid damaging your orthodontic appliances. Avoid sticky, chewy, or hard foods that can damage your braces, such as gum, popcorn, nuts, and hard candies. Instead, opt for softer foods and cut larger items into smaller pieces to prevent damage or dislodging of your braces.

Managing Discomfort

It’s common to experience a certain level of discomfort when you first get your braces or after adjustments. To relieve discomfort, you can take over-the-counter pain relievers and use orthodontic wax to alleviate irritation caused by the braces rubbing against your cheeks and lips. If you experience severe pain or persistent discomfort, make sure to consult your orthodontist for further guidance.

Maintaining Retainers

Now that you have completed your orthodontic treatment and have been fitted with retainers, it’s essential to take good care of them to ensure the continued success of your treatment. Retainers help maintain the position of your teeth after braces are removed, preventing them from shifting back to their original misaligned state. Proper maintenance of your retainers is crucial to keep them clean, in good condition, and effective.

Cleaning Fixed vs. Removable Retainers

When it comes to cleaning your retainers, it’s important to understand the differences between fixed and removable retainers. Fixed retainers are bonded to the back of your teeth and cannot be removed, making it more challenging to keep them clean. In contrast, removable retainers can be taken out for cleaning, making it easier to prevent the buildup of plaque and bacteria. For fixed retainers, it’s crucial to floss daily and use a special interdental brush to clean the areas between the wire and your teeth. With removable retainers, you can soak them in a retainer cleaning solution or gently brush them with a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste.

Proper Storage and Handling

Proper storage and handling of your retainers are essential to prevent them from getting lost, damaged, or accidentally thrown away. When not in use, always store your retainers in their protective case to keep them safe from getting bent or broken. Avoid wrapping them in a tissue or napkin, as they can easily get thrown away. Additionally, be mindful of where you place your retainers when they are not in your mouth to avoid misplacement or damage.

When to Wear Your Retainer

Wearing your retainer as prescribed by your orthodontist is crucial to maintain the results of your orthodontic treatment. Typically, you’ll need to wear your retainer full-time for the first few months, and then your orthodontist will instruct you on when and how long to wear it after that. Skipping or forgetting to wear your retainer can lead to your teeth shifting back to their original position, reversing the effects of your treatment. Ensure that you follow your orthodontist’s instructions carefully to achieve the best results.

Professional Care and Maintenance

To properly care for your dental appliances, it is important to seek professional care and maintenance on a regular basis. Your orthodontist will advise you on the best way to clean and maintain your braces or retainers. You can also learn more about how to properly care for your dental appliances by visiting 12 Ways to Clean & Protect Your Retainer.

Regular Dental Check-Ups

It’s important to visit your orthodontist or dentist regularly for check-ups. During these appointments, your orthodontist will check the condition of your dental appliances and make any necessary adjustments. They will also clean your teeth and provide guidance on how to maintain your dental appliances at home. Regular check-ups are crucial for ensuring the effectiveness of your treatment and the overall health of your teeth and gums.

Adjustments and Repairs

Over time, your dental appliances may require adjustments or repairs. This could be due to normal wear and tear, or because your teeth have shifted. It’s important to address any issues with your braces or retainers promptly to ensure that they continue to work effectively. Your orthodontist can make the necessary adjustments or repairs to keep your dental appliances in optimal condition.

Tips and Tricks

After getting your dental appliances such as braces or retainers, it’s important to take extra care of them. Here are some tips and tricks to ensure that your appliances remain in good condition:

  • Brush your teeth and appliances after every meal to prevent food particles from getting stuck.
  • Use a floss threader to properly clean between teeth and around your braces or behind your retainer.
  • Be careful with hard or sticky foods to avoid damaging your appliances.
  • Ask your orthodontist for special cleaning products for your appliances.
  • Keep your retainer in a protective case when not in use to prevent damage or loss.

After following these tips, you can ensure the longevity of your appliances and maintain good oral hygiene.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

If you experience pain or discomfort due to your dental appliances, it’s important to consult your orthodontist. They can make necessary adjustments to alleviate any issues. It’s also important to always follow the care instructions provided to you by your orthodontist to prevent any potential problems.

Longevity of Your Dental Appliances

Proper care and maintenance of your dental appliances is crucial to ensure they last as long as needed. Following the care tips provided and attending regular dental check-ups can help ensure the longevity of your appliances. Additionally, being mindful of what you eat and avoiding damaging habits can contribute to the overall lifespan of your appliances.


Ultimately, caring for your dental appliances, such as braces and retainers, is crucial in maintaining good oral hygiene and ensuring the effectiveness of the appliances. By following the proper cleaning and maintenance routine, you can prevent any potential damage, discomfort, or oral health issues. Remember to brush and floss regularly, avoid certain foods, and visit your orthodontist for regular check-ups and adjustments. By taking these simple steps, you can ensure that your dental appliances serve their intended purpose and ultimately achieve the desired outcome for your oral health.


Q: How do I care for my braces and retainers?

A: It is important to brush your teeth and dental appliances thoroughly after each meal. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Flossing daily is also crucial to remove food particles and plaque between teeth and around braces. Avoid sticky, hard, or chewy foods that can damage the appliances. It’s also important to visit your orthodontist regularly for adjustments and check-ups.

Q: How often should I clean my dental appliances?

A: Clean your braces and retainers at least three times a day – after breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s important to remove all food particles and plaque to prevent dental issues such as tooth decay and gum disease.

Q: How should I clean my retainers?

A: Rinse your retainer with water every time you take it out of your mouth. Brush it daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and mild soap, then rinse thoroughly. You can also soak it in a retainer cleaning solution as recommended by your orthodontist.

Q: Can I still play sports with braces or retainers?

A: Yes, you can still participate in sports with braces or retainers, but it’s important to wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth and appliances. Your orthodontist can provide a custom-made mouthguard that fits over your braces.

Q: What should I do if my braces or retainers break or become loose?

A: If your braces or retainers break or become loose, contact your orthodontist immediately. Do not try to fix them yourself, as this can lead to further damage or complications. Your orthodontist will provide guidance on what to do next.

Picture of Dr. Leslie Smith, DDS

Dr. Leslie Smith, DDS

Dr. Leslie Smith, DDS graduated from The University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston in 2015. Her philosophy is simple. "Care for your patient and do dentistry on them the same way you would like it done." Dr. Smith loves writing so much that she is now the content editor of Brightest Smiles Dentist Finder. Read more about Dr. Smith

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