As has been discussed in previous blog posts, retainers are for life! Retainers minimize movement of the teeth after orthodontic treatment has finished. Since retainers need to be used long term, taking good care of them and keeping them clean is essential. Just like other items that are used daily such as contact lenses, socks, shoes, etc. with time they will wear down and will eventually need to be replaced. But, taking good care of them can prolong their life. Below are a few tips on how to keep them as clean as possible:
- Brush your retainers daily, but NOT with toothpaste
Use a normal toothbrush with just water or water and mild dish soap to clean out any plaque that can accumulate on the retainers.This is best done as soon as they are removed in the morning. Make sure the bristles get all the way to the nooks and crannies where the tips of the teeth fit. You don’t want to use toothpaste because there are some ingredients in toothpaste that can be abrasive to the retainers and scratch them or wear them down more quickly. Rinsing the retainer in mouthwash can help take away any faint taste of soap. Bacteria from your mouth can colonize on the retainer which can make it look, smell, and taste bad. Brushing retainers daily keeps the bacterial plaque from forming and keeps retainers looking their best.
- Consider using antibacterial retainer cleaning tablets
There are a few retainer cleaning tablets on the market that can be used to help cleanse the retainers. Retainer brite is one brand, there are others that are marketed as denture cleaners, Efferdent and Polident, but work just the same. Studies suggest that these are not necessary beyond diligent daily brushing, but they can help them taste and smell better as time goes on. They don’t necessarily need to be used daily but you may consider using them once a week, or more or less often based on how clean your retainer is staying.
- Avoid excessive heat when cleaning retainers
Make sure you never expose your retainers to excessive heat so that they don’t distort in size or shape which would cause them to not fit or function properly. This means you don’t ever want to place them in the dishwasher, microwave, or very hot water.
Taking the time to clean your retainers prolongs their life and keeps your teeth and gums healthier. With time every retainer will get to the point where it needs to be replaced. Replacing a retainer is much more cost effective then going without a retainer and then needing braces later on because the teeth had a chance to move since a retainer wasn’t being worn regularly. If you ever have a question about whether or not your retainer needs to be replaced call our office to schedule an appointment to bring it in.