A Comprehensive Guide on How to Clean Retainers
Why Cleaning Your Retainers is Important
Retainers are orthodontic devices that are worn after braces or other orthodontic treatments to keep teeth in their new positions. Since retainers are worn inside the mouth, they can quickly accumulate bacteria, plaque, and food particles, leading to bad breath, tooth decay, and even gum disease. This is why it is crucial to clean your retainers regularly to maintain good oral hygiene and prevent any potential oral health issues. In addition, proper cleaning can help extend the life of your retainer and save you money in the long run.
Different Types of Retainers and Their Cleaning Methods
There are three main types of retainers:
- Hawley retainers, which are made of acrylic and wire and are removable.
- Clear plastic retainers, which are also removable and fit over the teeth.
- Fixed retainers, which are bonded to the back of the teeth and are not removable.
The cleaning methods for each type of retainer vary. For Hawley retainers, they can be cleaned with a soft-bristled toothbrush and mild soap or denture cleaner. Clear plastic retainers should be rinsed with water and brushed with a soft-bristled toothbrush, but avoid using toothpaste as it can scratch the surface. For fixed retainers, use a floss threader or interdental brush to clean between the teeth and the wire.
It is important to follow the specific cleaning instructions provided by your orthodontist to ensure proper care of your retainer.
Tips and Tools for Effective Retainer Cleaning
Here are some tips and tools for effective retainer cleaning:
Use lukewarm water: Hot water can warp or damage your retainer, and cold water may not be as effective in removing bacteria and debris.
Avoid using harsh chemicals: Household cleaners, bleach, and alcohol can damage the retainer and may be harmful if ingested.
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush: A soft-bristled toothbrush can help clean your retainer without damaging it.
Don’t forget to clean the case: Your retainer case can also harbor bacteria, so it’s essential to clean it regularly.
Soak the retainer in a cleaning solution: Soaking your retainer in a cleaning solution can help remove bacteria and stains. Ask your orthodontist which solution is best for your specific retainer.
By following these tips and using the right tools, you can keep your retainer clean and maintain good oral hygiene.
How Often Should You Clean Your Retainers
It is recommended to clean your retainer at least once a day. Ideally, you should clean your retainer every time you brush your teeth. This will help prevent bacteria buildup and keep your retainer fresh and clean.
If you notice any odor, discoloration, or buildup on your retainer, it’s essential to clean it immediately. You should also clean your retainer before and after any meals to prevent food particles from sticking to it.
Additionally, you should replace your retainer case every three months and clean it at least once a week to prevent bacteria growth.
Following a regular cleaning schedule will help ensure that your retainer is clean and effective in keeping your teeth in their new position.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning Retainers
Here are some common mistakes to avoid when cleaning your retainers:
Using hot water: Hot water can warp or damage your retainer. Always use lukewarm water when cleaning your retainer.
Using toothpaste: Toothpaste can be abrasive and scratch the surface of your retainer. Instead, use a mild soap or denture cleaner.
Using alcohol or bleach: Household cleaners, alcohol, and bleach can damage the retainer and may be harmful if ingested.
Using a hard-bristled toothbrush: A hard-bristled toothbrush can scratch the surface of your retainer. Always use a soft-bristled toothbrush.
Not soaking the retainer in a cleaning solution: Soaking your retainer in a cleaning solution can help remove bacteria and stains. Ask your orthodontist which solution is best for your specific retainer.
By avoiding these common mistakes, you can keep your retainer in good condition and maintain good oral hygiene. If you’re unsure about how to clean your retainer properly, don’t hesitate to ask your orthodontist for guidance.