When eating out, the potential for embarrassment can be high. This can make mealtimes one of the most stressful moments for a retainer wearer, “I think it’s disgusting to take it out in front of people, so you have to go to the restroom and then come back. They get dribble and it’s all kind of gross” remarked Emma. Planning when to take out your retainer, locating a restroom, deciding when and where to clean it, while also deciding what you’ll eat, talk about with your colleagues or boss and remembering to have a good time can be a bit of a tall order. “It’s very awkward, you do have to be quite organized when you want to eat, which is not very me.” she continued, “While everyone’s getting food, you’d have to find a restroom. Sometimes you couldn’t so you just have to look away to take out your retainer”.
Cleaning your aligner or retainer outside your own home can mean having to be a bit thick skinned, “It is a bit embarrassing, I won’t lie. You have to find a time when less people are in the restroom, because you don’t want to be seeing people you kind of know, like colleagues, while brushing your teeth. It’s quite strange” Emma recalls. On the other hand, Bethan found a more direct approach suited her, “I would just say it straight out, quite openly and candidly, ‘I need to go to the restroom, brush my teeth and put these back in, I’ll be right back.’” She even found that she’s not the only one, “I’ve gone into the restroom in nice restaurants and seen people literally brushing them over the sink and putting them back in! I’m like, yep, I’ve been there and it’s fine”.
Even popping into a diner on your own for a quick bite can have its perils, as Emma discovered, “Another time, I forgot to take my travel case out with me when I went to a diner. So, I put the retainer in tissue paper next to me at the table. I completely forgot about it, left it on the tray and then put the tray in the bin. That was a bit of a nightmare”.