After you complete orthodontic treatment, it is necessary to wear retainers for a while. The purpose of the retainers is exactly what the name suggests: they retain the position of your teeth and prevent them from shifting back to their previous position.
If you’re new to wearing retainers, you may have some questions, such as how to properly clean your retainer. Here’s what you need to know to keep your retainers clean.
Tips for Cleaning Your Retainers
Here are some basic tips to properly and effectively clean your retainers without damaging them:
- Brush your retainers with your toothbrush and toothpaste to remove food particles and plaque that may have built up throughout the day or night.
- Rinse your retainers with cool water.
- Brush your retainers twice a day when you brush your teeth.
- Always use a soft bristled toothbrush to clean your retainers.
What Not to Do When Cleaning Your Retainers
Here are some things to avoid when cleaning your retainers in order to prevent damage:
- Do not rinse your retainers in warm, hot, or boiling water.
- Do not soak your retainers in mouthwash.
- Do not use alcohol to clean your retainers.
- Do not use bleach on your retainers.
- Do not brush your retainers with a whitening toothpaste.
- Do not brush your retainers with a hard bristled toothbrush, it may scratch the surface.
How to Keep Your Retainer Clean
You can keep your retainer clean on a daily basis with the following tips:
- Drink water throughout the day to naturally rinse away bacteria, food, and plaque.
- Avoid drinking sugary beverages while wearing your retainers.
- Avoid drinking hot beverages while wearing your retainers.
- Rinse your retainers with water after you drink something other than water.
- Avoid eating or chewing gum while wearing your retainers.
What happens if you don’t clean your retainers?
When you don’t clean your retainers on a regular basis, a number of problems can result.
Bacteria can build up on your retainers and eventually cause an infection in your mouth, like gum disease. Dirty retainers can also lead to accelerated tooth decay, meaning you can develop cavities that gradually eat away at your tooth enamel.
A fungus called candida can form on your retainers and cause a yeast infection in the body. Staph infections can also result from bacteria on your retainers, which can be serious.
All of these are microscopic organisms that can’t be seen by just looking at your retainers, so even though they may not look dirty, they could have the potential to make you sick. Always clean your retainers on a daily basis.
How to Store Your Retainers After Cleaning
Proper storage of your retainers can be just as important as cleaning them. Always store your retainers in the designated case given to you by your orthodontist. Never wrap them in a napkin or tissue that is likely to get thrown away. Never set them on a plate or tray while you eat, which may also get thrown away or rinsed down the drain or garbage disposal. The case will also protect your retainers from pets who like to chew them up.
It is also important to clean the case that you store your retainers in. Bacteria can build up inside the case, especially if you put your retainers in there without cleaning or rinsing them first. Another good tip is to dry your retainers with a clean towel or paper towel before putting them in the case. This helps to prevent mold and mildew growth when you’re not wearing them.
Still Have Questions About Retainer Care? Ask Lake Minnetonka Orthodontics
The above tips are all approved by the experts at Lake Minnetonka Orthodontics. If you have additional questions not answered here, contact Lake Minnetonka Orthodontics. We can advise you on retainer care, as well as adjust, repair, or replace your retainers.
Contact us today at any of our 3 convenient locations to schedule a consultation: