Why Cleaning and Caring for a Retainer is Important

One of the fun things about being an orthodontist is experiencing all of the stages of treatment alongside our patients over the years. We often meet young kids whose parents are wisely trying to help them avoid oral health challenges in the future. We meet teens who are getting braces on and get to help them adjust throughout the process. And we meet adults who are ready to have the teeth of their dreams and are looking to try new ways to get there.

Throughout all the treatment stages, one of the most exciting and difficult is the retainer. Getting a retainer means that our patient is finally done with braces and their teeth are beautiful and straight. But it also means learning a new set of skills to maintain those teeth, like wearing and cleaning their retainer.

At Wedding Thompson Orthodontics, we’ve seen it all and have so much good advice to share with those who want to be better at caring for their retainer, or those who are just learning how to keep it clean. Dr. Wedding and Dr. Thompson have a few do’s and don’ts to get you started, but first they need you to understand why keeping your retainer clean should be a top priority!

Why Is It So Important to Keep a Retainer Clean?

One way to think of your removable retainer is like an extension of your smile. Though you will take them out and put them in, they are an essential component of your oral health and maintaining that smile that you love. As an extension of your smile, it deserves to be treated with care just like your teeth! Because bacteria live in our mouths and feed on the sugar and food particles that we consume, our teeth need regular cleaning in order to keep them healthy. And the same goes for your retainer!

Thankfully it’s really easy to do. The basics are: rinse, brush, and rinse. And that’s it! But we’ll get into a few more of the details to help you keep your retainer in the best shape possible, and to help you avoid mistakes that can harm your retainer.

5 Do’s and Don’ts for Maintaining Your Retainer

Do Brush Daily

A good rule of thumb when thinking about cleaning your retainer is to do it as soon as you take it out. Let’s say you wake up in the morning and take out your retainer in order to store it for the day and put it back in at night. In that case, you will definitely want to clean it in the morning so that it’s already super clean and ready for you when you go to bed.

Don’t skip the daily brush because it will result in you scrubbing extra hard to remove dried saliva and build up later, or just wearing a dirty retainer that will taste gross, and could lead to transferring bacteria and plaque back into your mouth.

Don’t Use Hot Water

When you first take your retainer out, the best step it to give it a thorough rinse right away. This will remove a lot of the surface saliva, making it easier to clean. But remember, no hot water! Instead, rinse with lukewarm water. Hot water has the potential to damage the plastic or acrylic of your retainer.

Do Reserve a Toothbrush

When we say “reserve a toothbrush” we mean to not use the same toothbrush that you brush your teeth with to clean your retainer. Select a soft-bristled brush, and set it aside to be used specifically for your retainer. The reason is…

Don’t Use Toothpaste

That’s right, we do not recommend using toothpaste to clean your retainer. Toothpaste often has small abrasive properties that can create micro-scratches on your toothbrush. Instead, we recommend a gentle cleanser like an alcohol-free mouthwash or even hand soap. These cleanser options can help kill bacteria without damaging your retainer.

Put some cleanser of your choice on the reserved toothbrush and scrub your retainer well on all sides. Be especially careful of the deeper grooves that can trap saliva and plaque. When you are done brushing the retainer, give everything a really thorough rinse with more lukewarm water. Now you’re all finished with your retainer maintenance for the day and it will be clean and ready for the next wear!

Do a Deep Clean Regularly

One final tip for cleaning your retainer is to not forget the deep clean. Despite how diligent you are with daily brushing, your retainer will likely still need some more thorough cleaning every once in a while. In that case, we recommend buying a denture or retainer cleaning solution like Polident to soak your retainer in. You can also use 1 part hydrogen peroxide and 1 part water to soak your retainer for a great deep clean! After soaking, you can simply scrub away any remaining residue and rinse. You can use a soak up to once a week or as needed.

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Find All the Support You Need at Wedding Thompson Orthodontics

For anyone in the Owensboro area who might want the right team to support them during orthodontic treatment, Wedding Thompson Orthodontics is the place for you! Our team of caring professionals is ready to welcome children, teens, and adults anytime, so just give us a call to set up an appointment. The first consultation is free! Give us a call today.