You have finally finished your braces treatment, and now your dentist has given you a retainer. The next couple of things you have to do is wear your retainer and maintain it. Here, our Barrie dentists give you tips on how you can keep your retainer clean.
How to Keep Your Retainer Clean
It's very important to keep your retainer fresh and clean because it's essential for your oral health. Today we share with you some tips and advice for keeping your retainer in shape as long as possible and making sure it stays shiny and clean during your everyday wear.
1: Regularly clean your retainer.
We know it’s not news to you that these retainers are on your teeth, so it’s imperative to ensure they stay clean so they work effectively and so your oral health isn't impacted by a dirty retainer.
If you have a removable retainer you can clean it with lukewarm water after every meal. To give it a deeper clean you are able to mix the lukewarm water with mild dish soap. Don't use toothpaste on your retainer, because it's abrasive and can scratch the surface, these scratches are ideal hiding spots for bacteria.
Fixed or bonded retainers should be flossed daily. Using a 6-inch piece of floss, move it under your retainer wire, bringing it up and down between the teeth, all the way to the gum line (and below the gum line if possible). Then slide the floss sideways to the next area to be cleaned. Repeat the process with each tooth that is attached to your permanent retainer.
2: Heat isn't your (retainer’s) friend.
Though you may enjoy a hot summer day spent at the beach or a hot tea on a cold winter’s day, your retainer won’t. In addition to debris getting stuck in your retainer in these cases, leaving it out in the heat can render it useless.
Though your retainer is a marvel of modern engineering, it’s still a piece of plastic that will warp if left on your car’s dashboard on a July day (oops) or in your mouth when you sip on that hot drink. Since your retainer is custom-made to precisely fit your mouth, any warping will result in it becoming misshapen and less effective at holding your teeth in place. So, always handle with care – and clean only with warm water, never hot.
3: Don't use harsh chemicals.
You can refrain from using chemicals and harsh cleansers for cleaning your retainer, all you need to use is the water/dish soap combination discussed above.
If you are worried about bacteria such as Streptococcus, that can cause strep throat, you can use chemical cleaning tablets to kill these. Alternatively, your usual soap and water should be enough.
4. Only soak as long as needed.
You may want to set an alarm on your phone when soaking your retainer if you do use cleaning tablets (ask your orthodontist how long you should soak your specific retainer brand, or check the packaging on the tablets).
It can also be soaked in mouthwash to keep it smelling fresh - just mix in an equal amount of lukewarm water. And only soak your retainer in mouthwash occasionally if the mouthwash contains alcohol.
5. Keep your retainer in its case
Removable retainers can be a double-edged sword. You can remove them so eating can be easier, however, if you have a habit of being absent-minded, you might catch yourself misplacing your retainer, or putting it at risk of becoming damaged or dirty.
When you are given a retainer you are also provided with a case to prevent this. Diligently use this case to prevent mishaps.
6. Replace as required.
As with everything else, retainers have a lifespan of when they are useful. Over time they could become loose and not fit your teeth as snugly as they have before, or calcium builds up and starts affecting the way the retainer fits, despite your best efforts at cleaning.
When these things happen, it’s time to get a new retainer. At Ferris Lane Dental, we can create an impression of your teeth and have a brand new retainer made for you.
7. Remember to carry a spare retainer with you.
Mishaps happen. Retainers become lost, damaged in the scenarios mentioned above, or they just wear out. Because getting a new retainer may take time, you’ll want to keep a spare one on hand to use in the meantime to prevent your teeth from shifting (especially a danger in the first few months after your braces are removed).