Swords Orthodontics
17 Main St, Swords, Co Dublin, Ireland

A Dozen Dos and Don'ts - 12 Tips for successful orthodontic retainer wear

12 Do's and Don'ts for successful retainer wear

Here are 12 Tips for Orthodontic Retainer Success (plus a bonus tip, so it's  not just bakers that have 13 in a dozen)


DO wear your retainers as your orthodontist directs.

The rest of what follows is what we tell our own patients. At Swords Orthodontics, for most removable retainers, I advise full time wear for the first 3 days and then it’s night time wear after that.

For Ever.


If you still want straight teeth in 10 years’ time, you’re still wearing a retainer in 10 years’ time.


DON’T have your retainer anywhere other than one of these two places:

  1. Your Mouth
  2. Your Retainer Box

Anywhere else and it’s likely to get lost, broken, damaged, stolen, eaten by a dog or other unhelpful endings. So for the 3 days of full time wear DO carry your retainer box around with you because you will need to take the retainers out for:

  • Eating
  • Swimming
  • Contact sports (where you should be wearing a mouthguard anyway)
  • Drinking anything other than water


DON’T wrap the retainer in a tissue when you’re eating, particularly if it’s in a really efficient fast food restaurant, where it will get tidied away into a bin marked “Thank You” before you know it.


DO put a phone number and a name on your retainer box so that if it does get lost, hopefully someone will get it back to you if they find it.


When placing a retainer in your mouth DO push it into place with your fingers. Don’t bite it into place as your bite muscles are so strong you could crack it or bend it if it’s not lined up with your teeth correctly.


DON’T let your retainer dry out – for most materials, this weakens the plastic. After the 3 days of full time wear, it’s likely to be sitting in the box for most of the day so keep it slightly damp with some damp cotton wool.


DO clean it regularly. I’d advise to clean the retainer when you brush your teeth in the morning, just hold it under a cold tap and give it a rub with a tooth brush.


DON’T use hot water to clean it – most materials are heat sensitive and can distort with


DON’T use tooth paste on clear transparent retainers (or aligners) – it’s likely to cause small scratches over time and make them less invisible


DO come back to the orthodontist for regular reviews


DO expect small movements of the teeth over time, even with the retainers


DON’T expect that one retainer will do you for life. It’s like a pair of shoes, it will wear out and need replaced after a while, but just like different people wear out their shoes differently, there’s a lot of variation in how quickly someone wears out a retainer


DO contact the orthodontist if you think something is wrong with the retainer, especially if there are cracks or it feels tight or doesn’t fit properly.

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