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From funky to fab – Discover the hidden gems of keeping your retainer clean all day long
Since retainers constantly contact your mouth and teeth, they collect bacteria, plaque, and tartar. Just as you brush your teeth regularly, cleaning your retainer daily is crucial. Here are the top tips to help you keep your retainer clean and enjoy optimal oral health.
Cleaning Is Based On Retainer Type
- The first step in cleaning your retainer is to identify the type of retainer you have. Common types of retainers include:
- These are also called removable retainers made of acrylic to fit your mouth. A wire holds them in place. They are the easiest to clean.
Clear Plastic Retainers
- They are less durable than Hawley retainers and can slip over your teeth. They are invisible and removable.
- They are also called permanent retainers. They are fixed to the lower front teeth and cannot be removed. They are put into place until the orthodontic treatment is complete.
Let’s discuss the tips for cleaning these retainers:
Cleaning Hawley and Clear Plastic Retainers
Clear plastic retainers can be removed for seamless cleaning. Follow these steps to ensure your retainer stays clean and fresh:
- It is best to clean your retainers as soon as they are removed from the mouth. This is because removing the debris and food particles while the retainers are wet is convenient.
- Mix lukewarm water with mild dish soap to clean your retainer after each meal.
- Gently scrub the plaque with a soft toothbrush.
- Use a cotton swab to clean the deepest grooves and ridges thoroughly.
Cleaning Fixed Retainers
These are fixed to the teeth and require daily flossing to be kept clean. Here is how you can clean fixed or bonded retainers:
- Thread the floss between your teeth with a floss threader.
- Get the floss under your retainer wire and move it up and down between your teeth.
- Move the floss sideways to ensure each area is clean, and repeat the process for each tooth attached to your permanent retainer.
Avoid Using Chemicals
- Cleaning your retainers does not require the use of harsh chemicals. According to a study, chemical cleaning tablets don’t reduce the bacteria better than brushing. Additionally, avoid soaking the removable retainer for too long, as prolonged soaking can corrode the metal components.
Alternatively, use quick mouthwash soaks to kill bacteria and freshen your retainer. However, mixing equal parts of mouthwash and lukewarm water is necessary. Moreover, if your mouthwash contains alcohol, soak your retainer less often, as alcohol can damage the retainer’s plastic.
Clean Retainer Case
- One often overlooked element is the case when it comes to cleaning. However, it is as important to clean the retainer case as cleaning the retainer. Use warm, soapy water to scrub all surfaces, and then rinse it off gently.
Ensure to dry the case. Keep the retainer out of the reach of your pets to prevent chewing or choking. Also, place your retainer safely when you remove it for eating.
Replace When Needed
- Retainers are more like contact lenses. They need to be replaced often. Some retainers last only up to six months, while others take a few years before the plastic wears out. However, some brands can last up to 10 years with proper upkeep and care. If your retainer is worn out, dirty, or no longer fits, contact your orthodontist to have it replaced.
Contact Icon Dental Orthodontics today to schedule an appointment with the best orthodontists in Seattle or Everett. Our expert dentists are dedicated to providing the best orthodontic treatment, from prevention and diagnosis to treatment and beyond. Trust us to help you achieve a healthier, more beautiful smile. For consultations or bookings, call us at (206) 225-2882 for Seattle and (425) 337-2400 for Everett appointments.