How to Clean My Retainer
Do I Have to Clean My Retainer?
It’s important to keep your retainer clean of bacteria, plaque, and tartar. Cleaning it every day will help protect you from the harmful effects these substances can have on tooth enamel. If not properly cared for, a dirty retainer could cause serious gum disease or cavities in teeth that are adjacent to the retainers surface area while also causing bad breath due to bacterial buildup!
If you wear a retainer and want it cleaned but don’t know how yourself – here is our best advice: Brush your own teeth first then brush them again after cleaning off any gunk with water so there isn’t anything left behind before brushing yet another time without soap this last time around because if detergent gets into places where there are tooth crevices, it would not be good. Read this article next.
After braces are removed, many people may need to wear a retainer full time for varying amounts of time. It’s necessary because teeth aren’t set in concrete environments and the perfect alignment can be compromised over years due to shifts that cannot currently occur with oral appliances like orthodontic retainers or night guards.
Here’s some more information about how to clean retainers and the different types of retainers, as well as other tips to keep your retainers well-maintained.
Cleaning Your Retainer Varies By The Type of Retainer
Caring for your retainer starts with identifying which kind you have. There are three types of retainers:
- Hawley retainers are molded out of acrylic to fit your mouth. They have a wire that helps keep it in place and is easy to remove for cleaning purposes!
- Clear plastic retainers are so easy to remove you’ll be able to take them on and off at your leisure, but they’re not as durable. However, they’re easy to clean!
- Fixed, or bonded, retainers. These are attached to your lower front teeth and mostly used if you have a high risk of having your teeth shift out of place again. You can’t remove these types, usually they’re put in for months or even years!
How To Clean Your Retainer
Hawley and Clear Plastic Retainers
Both Hawley and clear plastic retainers can be removed from your mouth for daily cleaning.
To clean your Hawley or clear plastic retainer, follow these steps:
- Once you remove your retainer from your mouth and it is still wet, clean your retainer right away to clear away debris and to prevent any debris from hardening.
- It’s a good habit to brush your teeth after each meal. With your retainer, you should brush out your retainer with lukewarm water after each meal as well.
- You will need to use a toothbrush or denture brush, lukewarm water and mild dish soap. Gently scrub the retainer’s surface with your tools until you have removed all plaque and other debris from its exterior.
- Use a cotton swab to get into the deepest grooves and ridges if necessary.
- One of the best ways to clean a retainer is with boiling water. If you don’t have access to that, ask your dentist about soaking it in denture or retainer cleaner such as Efferdent or Polident for 15-20 minutes before rinsing thoroughly and drying well.
You can always take your retainer to your dentist at Dean Street Dental if you notice debris on your retainer that won’t come off. There are special solutions that can remove the stubborn plaque and tartar.
Cleaning Fixed, or Bonded, Retainers
Reminding yourself to floss your teeth every day may seem like a daunting task, but with practice it will soon become second-nature. Here are 3 steps for cleaning and maintaining the oral health of your permanent retainer:
- Rinse off any food particles or debris from outside surfaces by dipping in water (warm if possible), then use dental tool made specifically for this type of item to scrape away anything stuck on. Be sure not to press too hard when scraping so as not damage the metal parts inside that attach them securely onto our teeth – these should be done while wearing gloves! Next rinse out excess moisture with a dry cloth before moving onto step 2).
- Grab a piece of floss and thread the floss between your two front lower teeth.
- Hold one end of the floss with your fingers, while holding the other end of the floss with a floss threader.
- After getting the floss under your retainer wire, simply move it up and down between the teeth, all the way to the gum line. If possible, the floss should gently go below the gum line.
- Next, slide the floss sideways to the next area you want to clean. Then pull down until it’s between your teeth.
- Lastly, repeat this process with each tooth that is attached to your bonded retainer.
In the event that you’re having a difficult time cleaning your retainer, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your dentist or orthodontist. They can show you better techniques and provide more tips!
6 Tips For Removable Retainer Care
1. Avoid Heat
You can warp and ruin your retainer by exposing it to high heat. Keep it away from boiling water, microwaves, dishwashers, and even the center counsel of your car. Always wash your retainers in lukewarm water.
2. Skip the Chemicals
In an Essix retainer study, researchers found that there was no significant difference between using chemical cleaning tablets and simple brushing. This means you don’t need to use harsh cleansers in order to get squeaky clean results!
3. Time How Long You Soak Your Retainer
Hawley retainers are made of metal. Soaking them too long can corrode the parts, making it less effective and more uncomfortable for you to wear. If using tablets, clean your retainer with water first before soaking in cleaning tablet solution only as specified by manufacturer guidelines or as needed according to instructions on package.
You can freshen your retainer’s smell and kill some bacteria by mixing equal parts mouthwash and lukewarm water.
If your mouthwash contains alcohol, refrain from soaking it in this solution very often because the alcohol can harm the retainer’s plastic.
4. Clean Your Retainer Case
Make sure your retainer is clean and you have a good case for it. Wash the inside of your retainer every day before storing it in its case to prevent bacteria from accumulating on the surface all night long! Scrubbing off any residue with warm, soapy water will not only keep icky germs away but also make future brushing easier.
5. Don’t Lose Your Retainer
The tooth-shaped retainers that are worn to correct crooked teeth can be dangerous for pets and children. Pets may chew on the plastic, or a child might choke on it. It’s important not only to keep your retainer away from these types of animals but also in mind where you place them while eating so they don’t get lost when thrown out with napkins we’ve used at dinner time!
6. Replace Your Retainer As Needed
Retainers are like shoes and contact lenses. They’re subject to wear-and-tear, but there’s a wide range on the length of time they’ll last. Essix retainers may only last six months or so before needing replacement because plastic will finally wear out with daily use. Hawley retainers can potentially be reused for 5 years if properly taken care of!
Contact your dentist if you notice that your retainer is particularly worn out or dirty or if it no longer fits properly.
What Happens If You Don’t Clean Your Retainer?
It is important to keep your retainers clean so that bacteria doesn’t grow in them. If you have a retainer, it will try to collect all the plaque and tartar from inside of your mouth while you wear it. Over time, if not cleaned often enough or thoroughly enough, this can cause some really bad things like smelliness and taste-iness (of course I just made those words up). And even worse than these unpleasantries themselves? The dangerous bacteria they could potentially harbor!
While many types of bacteria are normally found in the mouth, when too many build up, they can cause illness and infections. Streptococcus and Candida are both harmless if you have a strong immune system. But, when your immunity is compromised in any way, it’s important to be extra careful with these two strains of bacteria that can cause oral infections like redness or swelling on the inside of your mouth. Letting your doctor know right away will help them make sure they’re not anything serious before symptoms worsen! Here is a good read too.
The Bottom Line on Cleaning Your Retainer
Cleaning your retainer is just as important to keep it healthy and clean. You should wear a retainer for at least 10 hours per day, but make sure you also wash in warm water with dish soap once each day! It’s best if you brush out the inside of the mouthpiece after every meal since food can get stuck easily. Always consult an orthodontist or dentist about any specific care instructions for your own device- they know what will work best on yours.