Tips for Flossing a Permanent Retainer

March 10, 2015

Permanent retainers are often installed after a braces treatment to help keep the teeth aligned after a removable retainer treatment has been completed. These retainers are convenient and can require less maintenance, but it is still extremely important to keep these devices clean. Bonded retainers are designed to help keep teeth aligned after treatment without the visibility of removable retainers–they are attached to the back of teeth. They can also accumulate plaque and require more time and effort to clean when brushing and, in particular, flossing. Here are some tips for flossing your permanent retainer.

Use Floss Threaders

Floss threaders are small plastic needles that are used to help direct floss through the teeth and under the retainer wire. Using these significantly eases the flossing process and will enable you to move the floss up and down to remove plaque. You will have to re-thread the floss between every two teeth bonded by the retainer. For bonded retainers attached at only two points, flossing with threaders will be all the easier. Using a floss threader will make cleaning between the teeth bonded by the retainer much more effective.

Make Your Own Threader

If you don’t have any pre-made floss threaders on hand, you can create your own. This technique will work best with permanent retainers bonded to the two end canine teeth since you will be able to more efficiently move the floss around. Here is a quick rundown.

  • Make a loop in the floss 5-6 inches from the end.
  • Pull the loop over the lower front teeth with the two ends hanging out of your mouth.
  • Holding both ends, pull down until the loop snaps under the retainer, behind the teeth.
  • Release one end of floss and pull the other end until it comes out of the space between the teeth and under the wire.
  • With the floss under the wire, you can easily move the floss along the sides of the adjacent teeth to effectively clean the teeth.
  • Repeat this process for all the teeth supported by the permanent retainer. Pull the floss by one end to remove it. Make sure to floss everyday and take extra care to keep the teeth supported by a permanent retainer clean and free of plaque.

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