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As you get closer to the day that your braces come off, you may be looking forward to the day that you can flash a metal-free smile. But in almost every case, people who had braces will have to wear a retainer.

Your braces move your teeth and the ligaments of your jaw into their new positions. Your retainer helps make sure that they settle into those positions. You may have to wear your retainer for a few months or every night for the rest of your life. Every smile is different, but if you do not wear your retainer, your teeth will slip back into their old positions and you will be right back where you started. So, follow your orthodontist ’s directions when it comes to your retainer.

If you have a fixed retainer, you will need to brush and floss it just as you do your teeth. You may need a floss threader or floss pick if you can’t use traditional dental floss. You can clean your removable retainer by gently scrubbing it with a soft-bristled toothbrush with a mixture of vinegar and water or talk with your orthodontist about what products he recommends. When you take your retainer out for meals or sports, you should keep it in the container that will come with it. You need to make a habit out of keeping that container in your pocket, briefcase, purse or backpack since retainers are expensive to replace!

If you think that braces may be in your future and would like to make an appointment with Dr. Matthew Epperson, call Epperson Orthodontics in Springfield, Oregon, at 541-852-2552.