Most of us don’t enjoy going to the dentist. There’s a certain displeasure that comes from metal tools and strange brushes invading your mouth, compounded by the thing many people fear and anticipate: the stern dentist accosting you for suboptimal brushing habits.

Still, we all must go to the dentist, even after we’re fitted with retainers for teeth. And if you have a permanent retainer, seeing the dentist is all the more important. At least once per year and preferably twice a year, you should go to the dentist armed with a suite of questions and concerns to ensure they are up to date on your orthodontic schedule and to understand whether your oral health routine is in order.

Bring the following queries with you the next time you visit the dentist:

Tell your dentist all about your orthodontic plan

Don’t assume your dentist knows all the ins and outs of your orthodontic care plan. While most dentists can probably understand your issues at first glance, every plan is different. Make these details clear before you begin your routine cleaning. The dentist may tell the cleaning assistant to avoid using certain tools or solutions to preserve a permanent retainer, or they may notice issues in the teeth and gums that could damage the retainer.

You may need to write down the plan before seeing the dentist so that everything is clear and concise. If you’re unclear on what to ask, it may be wise to contact your orthodontist to tell them you’re going to the dentist. They will be able to answer any questions you have, giving you a step-by-step dialogue to have with your dentist. 

Mention any issues you’ve had with your retainer

If you’re having major structural issues with the retainer, it’s time to call the orthodontist. But if you go to the dentist with small issues, such as minor tooth pain near the wire or unnatural plaque buildup in a single spot, make sure to clarify these problems. The dentist will know how to clean problem areas safely. They will also help formulate questions to ask your orthodontist, especially if they identify the issue as worse than you initially thought.

Dentists and orthodontists operate in two different care spaces, but the similarities are legion. Don’t be afraid to use one specialist to improve your care with the other.

Ask if you’re caring for the retainer properly

Even if there are no noticeable problems, provide the dentist with a comprehensive overview of your retainer care routine. Tooth and gum issues don’t always manifest immediately with poor cleaning habits. The lack of a significant problem doesn’t automatically mean you’ve been caring for your retainer perfectly. 

The dentist will notice any holes in your care plan and help you formulate a better plan to clean your retainer in the best way possible. Remember: the dentist is an expert and knows more about cleaning than you do!

Request recommendations for best oral care products

Everyone has received the run-around at some point. You end your appointment, and the dentist hawks the newest toothbrush or cutting-edge oral care product. You kindly decline and say your basic products are working well enough.

Next time, consider turning the tables. The dentist may try to sell you a product, but they won’t deny a request to learn about other products that could help with oral care. Ask for their expert opinion on oral care products that fit your budget and goals. Be sure to ask about how to floss with a permanent retainer – the dentist will have plenty of ideas for products that could help.

Bottom line

Open communication with your oral care specialists is extremely important. Dental cleaning and orthodontic care go hand in hand. The dentist should be aware of your entire treatment plan and will help you reach all your dental and orthodontic goals. Be forthright and honest. Whether you have questions about clear aligners, retainers, how much invisible aligners cost or just general oral health, know that your dentist wants to help you. And accepting that help will ensure your smile stays bright and beautiful for a long time.