Wearing aligners or retainers can be a bit of a personal journey. You’ll learn what works best for you along the way but here are some tips and recommendations which could help you. We asked two retainer wearers to share the retainer tips and tricks that worked for them.
“You do have to be quite organised when you want to eat, which is not very me – I found that quite irritating” discovered Emma.
If there’s a watchword for new aligner and retainer wearers, it’s ‘organise’. From eating to cleaning and working to socialising, living with a removable dental appliance requires some adjustment to your daily habits and routines – some of which you may even find a little embarrassing.
LOVE YOUR RETAINER CASE
“I thought wait a second, where are my retainers!?” says Emma.
Keeping track of your aligner or retainer can be a big challenge. Even when you start out with good intentions, sometimes life just gets in the way. Whether you’re on a night out, at the end of a long day or you’ve just popped ‘em out for a quick snack or treat, the temptation to hide them in a tissue or napkin, put them straight in a pocket or just leave them on the bedside table is likely to arise – maybe even more than once! After taking them out of your mouth, the next safest place for your aligner or retainer is in the case provided. An option which might help is having a couple of spare retainer and appliance cases. That way you won’t find yourself desperately scrambling around trying to remember which pocket you put the last one in.
“They give you a case, so make sure you carry it. If you take it out and put it in tissue paper you’ll forget, but if it’s in a box on the table, you’re not going to forget about it” advises Emma.
POCKETS ARE YOUR FRIENDS
“I’m not someone who carries a bag, so I found that quite difficult – I’d have to give the appliance (case) to someone to hold” Emma recalled.
Once your aligner or retainer is in its case, you’ll need to think about where to keep it when you’re out and about. If you carry a bag, you can keep it in there. If you’re worried about losing your bag, leaving it in a cloakroom or you just like to travel light, make sure you wear something with pockets. Or, at least, make sure you have a willing friend who does. You may find you need to plan a bit more creatively in the summer than the winter.
“I’d go out for lunch and while everyone’s getting food, you’d have to find a restroom and sometimes you couldn’t” Emma remembers.
“Often I used to take it out for presenting, but sometimes you forget and you’re in meetings” recalls Emma.
If you have no choice and have to take it out in front of others, there’s no need to be embarrassed. Be confident, take it out and pop it straight into your case.
GET A STRAW
“Sugary drinks are a bit of a no-go as that sugar gets stuck in your retainer and that erodes the teeth – so you want to avoid sugary stuff” recalls Emma.
Sugary drinks are not good to leave sitting next to your teeth inside an aligner or retainer. Water is the ideal drink, but after you’ve quenched your thirst and kept hydrated it can have limited appeal. Try finding sugar-free alternatives to dilute or substitute in your usual drinks, such as replacing tonic with sparkling or still water. They may taste strange at first, but once your taste buds have adjusted to having less sugar, you may even prefer it. Another handy way is to carry straws with you to drink through. You can get reusable ones that can be cleaned easily.
PLACE A GLASS OF WATER BY THE BED
“Quite often at night I get a dry mouth.’’ Emma remembers.
Some people may find aligners and retainers give them a dry mouth and lips at night. Keeping a glass of water by the bed could be a good idea. Plus, if you find you’re getting dry or chapped lips, then applying some lip balm before you go to sleep can help.
Okay, yes aligners and retainers may seem like a mood killer, but they don’t have to spoil that romantic moment. Depending on how comfortable you feel, you may find it easier to be open about needing to take them out. If you’re not ready to share that detail, then just find a quiet moment to take them out. Either way, most people won’t mind – just remember to place them in their case!
“I’m quite frank about it. Cool, nice normal people don’t care so that’s fine” says Bethan.