Orthodontists usually issue retainers after you have finished your time with braces or aligners. They ensure that the alignment caused by braces or aligners is maintained by preventing your teeth from shifting back into their former position. If you have recently gotten a retainer and are unsure how to clean it, consider consulting experts like Meschke Orthodontics – Wichita Bright Smiles.
There are different kinds of retainers, and the proper cleaning method will depend on the type of retainer you have. Removable retainers are easy to clean and disinfect because they can be easily brushed, soaked in cleaning solutions. You can quickly examine a removable retainer for food particles and other signs of degradation.
Non-removable retainers are much tougher to deal with because you have to clean them as you brush your teeth. Whichever kind of retainer you have, this article will list several handy tips that you should keep in mind while cleaning your retainer.
Always Wash Your Retainer With Warm Water
Even if your retainer comes off, a rule of thumb is that any temperature of the water too hot for your regular oral hygiene is not appropriate for your retainer. Retainers are made of various materials, most of which are susceptible to extremely high temperatures.
To avoid the risk of damaging or warping your retainer, be sure to ask your orthodontist if your retainer requires any special care. It is advisable to keep your retainer away from hot water, dishwashers, microwaves, washers/dryers, and any other undesirable locations, e.g., your car dashboard.
Use Cleaning Chemical Sparingly
There are many chemicals in the oral hygiene market that are marketed for cleaning retainers. Most retainers do not require more than a daily brushing to maintain your oral hygiene. You should read any instructions that came with your retainer or consider your orthodontist’s recommendations on which chemicals are appropriate for cleaning your retainer.
Researchers have revealed that chemical tablets used for cleaning retainers are not any more effective at removing bacteria than brushing did. Chemical pills are more effective at killing the ‘cocci’ family of bacteria notorious for causing strep throat. Do not use chemical tablets to clean your retainers often because, with frequent use, some of this chemicals can cause significant damage to some parts of your retainer.
Soak Your Retainer For Timed Periods
If you use chemical tablets to clean your retainer, be sure to adhere to the manufacturer’s use instructions. Do not soak your retainer in a chemical solution for longer than the recommended period of time because it is likely to corrode some parts of your retainer, especially the metallic ones.
You can also soak your retainer in a solution of mouthwash and lukewarm water to kill bacteria and freshen its smell. If your mouthwash contains alcohol, then you should not soak your retainer in it because you run a risk of corroding some parts of your retainer. Alcohol can also harm some pieces of your retainer’s plastic.
Clean Your Retainer Case
An often overlooked part of retainer hygiene is cleaning your retainer’s case. All the work you put in to clean your retainer will be futile if you place it in an unclean case. It is advisable to clean your retainer regularly. The best practice is to wash it daily with warm soapy water, making sure to scrub all the corners, rinse it off and then pat it dry.
Most people place too much attention on cleaning their retainer and fail to put enough into cleaning the case. A dirty retainer case will infect your retainer with dirt and bacteria and negate all the effort you have put in. It is best to take good care of your retainer case even when it is empty to maintain your oral hygiene.
Store Your Retainer Carefully Whenever You Take It Out
Even though your retainer picks up food particles, germs, and bacteria in your mouth, it is much more vulnerable when you take it out. Whenever you remove your retainer, be very conscious of where you place it. The best course of action is to put your retainer in your case whenever you take it out—setting your retainer on the table when it places it at risk of collecting dirt, germs, and bacteria.
Replace Your Retainer Whenever Necessary
Like any other product, retainers wear out after a certain amount of time or use. Once a retainer is worn out, it becomes an oral health risk because it is tough to clean. If your retainer is worn out or no longer fits properly, then you should contact your orthodontist to find out if it is time to buy a new one.