Columbia Office: (803) 738-9715 | Irmo Office: (803) 781-5253

Life after braces

Retainer Instructions and Recommendations

When we remove your braces, we will begin the retention stage of your treatment. The retention phase lasts for a minimum of 24 months. Your final orthodontic result depends on your retainers, so follow through with the hard work you’ve put in so far. Please wear your retainers for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week until further notice. Only remove them before you eat and brush your teeth. Place them back on your teeth as soon as you’re done eating or brushing.

Brush retainers with a soft toothbrush and soap.
We recommend using a liquid type hand soap. This type of soap has no abrasive material that will scratch your orthodontic retainer (hence less staining).
If they get grungy with mineral deposits:
Soak them in white vinegar for 10-15 minutes and then brush them as usual. Be sure that you've rinsed off all the vinegar before putting them in your mouth, or you will be in for a big taste surprise.
A great cleaner for your retainers:
(As long as there aren't any solder joints on the wire retainer) Retainer Brite is a fizzing tablet cleaner that is available at We have found this retainer cleaner to be an excellent addition to brushing your orthodontic retainer and recommend it regularly to our patients.
Keep retainers away from heat.

The plastic material that retainers are made from will distort when exposed to extreme heat. Keep your retainers away from the following:

  • Extremely hot water - if you can't drink it comfortably, your retainer shouldn't be in it. Some people have placed retainers in boiling water to clean… it will destroy the retainers!
  • The dashboard of a car - direct sunlight can get hot enough to distort the retainer
  • The microwave oven - yes, it has happened. Keep the retainer out of the microwave
  • The dishwasher - the water in a dishwasher is just too hot for retainers
  • The washer and dryer - again, this has happened. Take them out of your pocket before the laundry gets done.

Keep them away from pets, especially dogs and cats.
If you have these pets, you know what they like to do when you pick them up - lick your face and mouth. Since your orthodontic retainers are in your mouth, they smell just like you. And that smell is just too enticing for your pet to resist. Keep them in your retainer case when they aren't in your mouth.
Don't put them in your pocket without a case.
When you place your retainer in your pocket, they will most likely get squished when you sit down. Even if you put them in your front pocket, the pressure placed on them when you sit down will bend or distort them. Put your retainer in the retainer case you've been given before putting them in your pocket.
What should I do if my retainers is lost, broken, or eaten by a pet?
Call us during normal business hours, and we will help determine when a replacement retainer should be made. A lost or broken retainer is generally not an emergency.
Don't put them where other things can be set on top of them.
This is most common for school-aged children who use a backpack. Put your retainer in the retainer case you've been given before putting them in your backpack.
Tompkins Orthodontics