Ah, braces. If you’ve worn them, you know that it’s quite a journey to learn how to take care of your teeth and adjust to all the things that come with having braces. And then the biggest transition of all–getting your braces off and starting to wear your new retainers! It’s exciting to experience your wonderful new smile and eat all the off-limits foods. But there still are some responsibilities, like remembering to wear and care for your retainer.
Why is Retainer Cleanliness so Important?
When a retainer is well-maintained, it will last longer and fit more comfortably. We all want to save ourselves time and money, and that’s why it’s great to keep your retainer clean and to wear it consistently so that it will last for years to come. And let’s face it, most of us wouldn’t want to put in our mouths a dirty, stinky retainer.
Aside from comfort and convenience, a retainer that is not being cleaned regularly can have bacteria and plaque grow on it. To keep your mouth and teeth safe from bacteria and plaque, it’s a good idea to clean your retainer daily.
Tips to Keep Your Retainer Clean
Follow along with these easy tips that Dr. Paul and Dr. Andrew Serrano to help you keep your retainer clean. These tips are specifically for removable retainers that go in and out of your mouth regularly; we’ll talk about fixed retainers later on. The most common removable retainers are the Essix retainer and Hawley retainer, and the tips below work great for both of them.
The Essix retainer works just like an Invisalign retainer and is made of clear plastic trays that are perfectly formed to fit over your teeth. A Hawley retainer is the “old school” retainer that is still a great option for some patients. They are made from acrylic and metal wires that sit on the top or bottom of your mouth and the wires fit around your teeth.
The first rule of retainer is to clean them every day! We recommend cleaning it first thing in the morning when you are brushing your teeth. First, start with a good rinse, and then brush it. Everyday cleaning will remove the food particles and bacteria that naturally collect in your mouth.
Don’t Use Hot Water
When rinsing your retainer be sure to use lukewarm water instead of hot water. Hot water has the potential to warp your retainer, making it unwearable. We don’t want you to have to get a new retainer because of a little hot water.
Use a Reserved Toothbrush and Avoid Toothpaste
Believe it or not, toothpaste is a bad idea when it comes to your retainer. The tiny abrasive properties that most kinds of toothpaste contain are great when it comes to cleaning your teeth, but can create micro scratches on your retainer, weakening it and making it more susceptible to bacterial growth. That’s why we recommend keeping a toothbrush reserved just for your retainer and not putting toothpaste on it!
Use a Gentle Cleanser
Now comes the time to get your retainer clean. You don’t need to get fancy with it, just use a gentle cleanser like alcohol-free mouthwash or a gentle hand soap. Both options will kill bacteria that are trying to grow on your retainer, without damaging it. Use the reserved toothbrush to scrub your cleanser of choice all over the retainer, making sure to get in all the nooks and crannies. Then rinse well. Now your retainer is clean and ready to be stored or worn again!
Soak in Cleaning Solution if Needed
If you’ve been diligently cleaning your retainer every day but notice that your retainer is still looking a bit dirty or even has white build-up on it, don’t stress. It is normal for a retainer to have some hard-to-remove buildup, often just from mineral deposits in your saliva. A quick and easy solution is to soak your retainer in a denture solution such as Polydent. These kinds of solutions are made to be non-damaging while helping get rid of debris. After soaking, just give your retainer another quick scrub!
Serrano Orthodontics Is Your Orthodontic Team!
If you need help with caring for your retainer, or just have any questions about orthodontic treatment, Serrano Orthodontics is the place for you. Give one of our offices in Phoenix or Chandler a call to schedule a free consultation appointment, or simply reach out with whatever questions you may have! Our team of professionals is ready to help you out!