Can You Swim with Retainers? Risks, Effects and Protective Measures

Ever found yourself standing at the edge of the pool, retainer in mouth, wondering if it’s safe to dive in? You’re not alone. Many people are unsure whether swimming with retainers is a good idea or a dental disaster waiting to happen.

In this article, we’ll dive into the topic headfirst. We’ll explore the potential risks of swimming with retainers and provide you with expert advice to keep your smile safe. So, before you make the next splash, let’s unravel the mystery together.

Key Takeaways

  • Retainers play a crucial role in maintaining the alignment of teeth post-orthodontic treatment, helping avoid teeth drifting back to their original position. They further offer benefits like reducing risk of dental complications such as bruxism, and aiding in minor correction of teeth alignment.
  • Swimming with retainers is not recommended due to potential risks including damage to the retainer from chlorine or other chemicals, and possibility of losing the retainer during vigorous activities in water.
  • Exposure to chlorinated water can lead to degradation of the retainer material, discoloration, damage to aesthetic properties, increased risk of bacterial accumulation, and intensified catalyst activity causing faster degradation.
  • Retainers must be cared for diligently while swimming, this includes removing them before swimming, rinsing them thoroughly after swimming, regular cleaning, storing them in protective case, consulting dentist for regular check-ups, and avoiding exposure to direct sunlight.
  • Alternating the use of two sets of retainers, using mouth guards during swim sessions, use of removable dental appliances, and waterproof retainer cases can be considered for swimmers who regularly wear retainers.
  • Swimming with retainers poses some challenges, but careful maintenance and alternate solutions can help ensure both swim sessions and dental health are unaffected.

Understanding Retainers and Their Importance

Retainers, as you might know, play an integral part in orthodontic aftercare. Achieving that picture-perfect smile isn’t just about the initial alignment with braces; maintaining the results sets you up for long-term satisfaction, and that’s where retainers step in. They ensure your teeth don’t drift back to their original position post-brace removal, guaranteeing durability of your newly straightened teeth structure.

Utilizing retainers post orthodontic treatment can bring numerous beneficial outcomes. Primarily, they’ll secure the alignment of your teeth, facilitating them to settle in their new positions. This process can take around six months or so, during which it’s vital to wear your retainers regularly.

Additionally, retainers offer secondary dental benefits. For example, those with night-time teeth grinding habits (the dental term for this is ‘bruxism’) might find relief using a retainer. Acting as a buffer, it offers some protection to the teeth’s surfaces, reducing wear and the risk of further dental complications.

Finally, retainers aid in minor corrections left post braces. Tiny shifts necessary can be achieved simply by wearing these devices.

Compliance remains the key metric for success in any dental plan, with retainer wear being no exception. Thus, understanding their importance and proper upkeep is essential. In the next section, the interaction between retainers and water will be discussed in depth, providing insights into whether swimming with them is a feasible option.

Can You Swim with Retainers?

Having discussed the advantages of retainers, particularly after teeth straightening procedures, you might now inquire if outdoor activities like swimming affect their functionality. Strictly speaking, you aren’t advised to swim with retainers. The reasons are quite simple and fall under two main categories: potential damage and possible loss.

  1. Potential Damage: Retainers, especially the removable ones, aren’t designed for use in chlorinated pool water. Extended exposure to the chemicals in pool water can degrade the material of the retainer, jeopardizing its structural integrity and effectiveness. Even in saltwater or freshwater bodies, microscopic organisms and residues could adhere to the retainer, causing cleanliness issues.
  2. Possible Loss: Retainers aren’t secured as firmly as braces on your teeth. In the event of vigorous actions such as diving, the retainer could be dislodged. Considering their size, locating a lost retainer in a large, deep body of water is next to impossible.

These scenarios aren’t merely hypothetical. In a 2017 study, it was found that damage and loss are among the top reasons individuals end up replacing their retainers. Around 25% of the participants reported misplacing their appliance, while another 15% had to get replacements due to damage.

Incorporating swimming into your daily routine doesn’t mean having to abandon your orthodontic aftercare. Rather than swimming with your retainer, consider stashing it safely in a case during your swim. Once you’ve finished, rinse your mouth and reinsert the retainer. This way, you maintain your teeth alignment without risking damage to or loss of your appliance.

Given these reasons, swimming with retainers qualifies as an unnecessary risk. Instead, ensure you are consciously caring for your retainer, as its longevity directly influences the maintenance of your teeth’s alignment.

Impact of Water and Chlorine on Retainers

Water and chlorine, commonly present in swimming pools, can wreak havoc on your retainers. If you’ve previously given scant regard to this, it’s time to reconsider, and here’s why:

  1. Retention of Water: Retainers, due to their material flexibility, tend to retain water. As a result, consistent exposure to both saline and freshwater can warp the retainer’s shape. For instance, Acrylic based retainers absorb water causing deformation.
  2. Action of Chlorine: Chlorine, a widely used disinfectant in pools, is no friend to your retainer. It reacts with the retainer materials leading to discoloration and breakdown, thereby reducing the lifespan of your retainers.
  3. Damage to Aesthetic Properties: Retainers often sport flashy colors or interesting designs to make them more appealing, especially to younger users. Continuous dipping in water, particularly chlorinated water, can strip them of their aesthetics.
  4. Potential for Bacterial Growth: Prolonged exposure to water also raises the risk of bacteria accumulation on your retainers. For instance, pseudomonas aeruginosa, a common waterborne bacteria, can thrive on wet surfaces of retainers.
  5. Increase in Catalyst Activity: It’s known that water can act as a catalyst in certain chemical reactions. This possibility rings true for the materials used in retainers as well. The regular water intrusion can speed up their degradation process.

In light of these impacts, it’s practical to remove your retainers before you plunge into water bodies. Maintain a routine of thoroughly rinsing your retainers once your swimming session wraps up. Be diligent about this practice, and your retainers will thank you. Remember, your prime goal is the sustenance of the retainer material’s integrity for seamless teeth alignment, and water, unfortunately, is a detriment if not managed well.

Taking Care of Your Retainers While Swimming

Executing your daily activities with retainers can present a few hurdles. Swimming, in particular, demands particular attention. Observe these guidelines for care and maintenance of your retainers during and after swimming.

  1. Remove Retainers Prior to Swimming: Reduce exposure to harmful pool chemicals by taking out your retainers before hopping into the pool. You decrease the chances of warping and discoloration by doing so, if you accidentally neglect this step, don’t panic.
  2. Rinse Retainers Thoroughly Post-Swim: Even if you forget and swim with your retainers, the first step post-swim is to rinse them under cold, never hot, water. Compromise in the structure of your retainers is possible under hot water, as heat can distort and weaken them.
  3. Clean Retainers Regularly: Regular cleaning doesn’t just occur post-swim. Implement a consistent cleaning schedule, incorporating a dentist-approved retainer cleaner. Brush your retainers as you do your teeth, but handle with care to avoid damage.
  4. Store Retainers in Protective Case: Always store your retainers in their dedicated case when not in use. Losing retainers in a large body of water like a pool is more common than you’d think. Cases prevent loss and accidental damage.
  5. Consult Dentist for Regular Check-ups: Regularly get your retainers checked by your dentist. They’ll be able to assess their condition, and take action if damage from pool chemicals or other factors has occurred.
  6. Avoid Direct Exposure to Sun: If you’ve taken a quick dive and left your retainers on the poolside, remember to avoid leaving them under the sun. High temperatures may cause them to deform, reducing their lifespan.

Taking meticulous care and being aware of the potential risks are crucial in preserving the integrity and aesthetics of your retainers. By following these guidelines, you lessen any chances of bacterial growth, accelerated degradation, and other potential issues. Remember, your commitment to retainer care not only maintains your smile but your dental health overall.

Alternate Solutions for Swimmers using Retainers

If swimming’s a significant part of your lifestyle, withholding from it simply because of your new orthodontic devices could be daunting. Here, you’ll discover alternate solutions that maintain your swim sessions without compromising the health and efficiency of your retainers.

One solution lies in alternating the use of retainers. Investing in two distinct sets, one for daily use and one for swimming, preserves the functionality of your main pair. Your swimming set, exposed to potential harm from chlorinated water, undergoes accelerated degradation, but your daily set remains pristine. Consider this approach as a method of safeguarding your retainer’s longevity and effectiveness.

Preserving dental health during swim sessions isn’t solely about your retainer; it’s about protecting your oral health as well. Hence, using mouth guards instead of retainers while swimming becomes a viable option. Designed to protect your teeth during contact sports, these devices shield your mouth from potential harm, including impacts or accidents in the swimming pool. After your session, simply sanitize the mouth guard by rinsing it thoroughly, replacing your retainer promptly after your swim.

Another viable alternative is the use of removable dental appliances. These devices, akin to retainers, provide temporary tooth alignment and can be used as replacements during swim sessions. Being less durable and cheaper, they make practical solutions when there’s a high risk of loss or damage.

It’s also noteworthy to consider waterproof retainer cases. This accessory protects your retainer while swimming, providing you with hassle-free divergent functions. Waterproof cases, fitted with secure seals, keep your retainer safe and dry in any water scenario. As a preventative measure, attach your case to a fluorescent lanyard, aiding visibility in case it gets lost in open water.

Swimming with retainers poses its challenges. Yet, the alternatives listed above prove that managing an active lifestyle alongside retainer usage isn’t as daunting as initially perceived. Being vigilant towards maintaining the optimal functionality and health of your retainers allows you to enjoy your swim while safeguarding your paramount dental health.


While retainers play a crucial role in your dental health, it’s clear that swimming with them isn’t recommended. The risks of damage from pool chemicals and the potential for loss outweigh the convenience. But don’t let this deter you from enjoying a swim. You’ve got options that allow you to maintain your active lifestyle without compromising the condition of your retainers. Whether it’s using a separate set for swimming, opting for a mouth guard, considering removable dental appliances, or investing in a waterproof case, you can still hit the pool. Remember, proper care and storage of your retainers are key. So, next time you plan to take a dip, think twice about swimming with your retainers. Your smile will thank you.

Q1: Why are retainers important in orthodontic aftercare?

Retainers are crucial in maintaining teeth alignment post orthodontic treatments. They also help address any residual dental issues.

Q2: Can you swim with a retainer?

Swimming with a retainer is unadvisable due to potential damage from pool chemicals and risk of loss. It can warp, discolor, and reduce the lifespan of the retainer.

Q3: How does chlorine affect retainers?

Chlorine can damage retainers causing discoloration, bacterial growth, and accelerated degradation.

Q4: How should retainers be cared for while swimming?

Retainers should be removed before swimming, rinsed thoroughly afterward, and properly stored to avoid damage.

Q5: What are the alternatives to retainers for swimmers?

Swimmers can use separate retainers for swimming and daily use, mouth guards instead of retainers, removable dental appliances, or waterproof retainer cases. These alternatives can help them maintain their active lifestyles while safeguarding their dental health.