The time has finally arrived for you to have your braces removed and for you to begin enjoying your favorite foods with your new beautiful, straight teeth. To ensure your teeth remain straight, you will need to wear a retainer, according to your orthodontist's directions. Wearing and storing this retainer correctly is critical for your overall oral health and the look of your teeth. Here are a few dos and don'ts to keep in mind when you wear and store your retainer.

Do Wear Your Retainer as Directed

Typically, your will need to wear your retainer all day and night for the first few weeks or months after your braces are removed. You will only remove the retainer during this time while you are eating. After a few months, your orthodontist will reassess the position of your teeth and determine if you need to continue wearing your retainer all day and night, or if you can simply wear the retainer at night.

It is critical that you follow your orthodontist's directions and wear the retainer as needed. If you do not continue to wear the retainer, your teeth will migrate and you will, unfortunately, need to have your braces put back on to straighten your teeth again. Also, always brush your teeth after you eat and put your retainer back in.

Don't Store Your Retainer Incorrectly

Whether you are expected to wear your retainer around the clock or simply at night, it is important to store the retainer correctly to ensure the retainer does not become damaged, lost, or dirty. Your orthodontist will provide you with a plastic container that is shaped to perfectly store your retainer. Whenever possible, store your retainer in this plastic container.

Bring the plastic container with you when you are going out to eat or any time you will be away from home and must take out your retainer. This will ensure that you always have a safe and sanitary place to keep your retainer when it is not in your mouth.

Do Clean Your Retainer the Right Way

Finally, make sure your retainer is cleaned thoroughly whenever possible. The best way to clean your retainer is to brush it with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a very small drop of liquid hand soap. Rinse off the retainer and wipe it off before placing the retainer in its plastic container. Periodically soaking your retainer in a mixture of warm water and baking soda or water and denture cleaner will also help remove germs and bacteria from the nooks and crannies of the retainer.

Caring for and wearing your retainer correctly will protect your straight teeth and prevent damage to the retainer.