How to Keep Retainers Clean

Retainers live among billions of bacteria in the mouth, it is important to keep them clean!

Retainers are the final step in orthodontic treatment. Many orthodontic patients find more freedom with retainers than braces since they can be taken out. However, retainers come with the extra responsibility of keeping them clean to ensure your new smile stays healthy!

Your mouth is home to over 6 billion bacteria. Since retainers stay in the mouth for multiple hours at a time, these bacteria can live on retainers and make them dirty fast. You wouldn’t want to go a week without brushing your teeth, the same goes for your retainer!

Unwashed retainers are coated with harmful bacteria, which can cause unwanted plaque buildup on the teeth, gingivitis, and bad breath. Cleaning a retainer daily will help maintain great oral health.

How to Keep a Clean Retainer:

Make a Baking Soda Paste: Baking soda is a great cleaning agent for many household chores. However, it can also clean retainers nicely. Baking soda can help control oral bacteria without the use of harsh chemicals. It can even help whiten retainers that are starting to turn yellow.

To clean your retainer with baking soda, make a paste that is made of half water and half baking soda. This paste should be thick enough to stick to the retainer. Apply the baking soda paste to a toothbrush and clean your retainer like you normally would with toothpaste. Then, thoroughly rinse the paste off.

Use Vinegar: When you take out your retainer are you smelling a not-so-nice odor? Your retainer lives in your mouth along with billions of bacteria. If the bacteria is not cleaned off frequently it can cause your retainer to have an unpleasant smell, which can also cause bad breath. Luckily white vinegar is a gentle disinfectant that can also remove odors.

To clean your retainer with vinegar, make a mixture that is half vinegar and half warm water. Then, soak the retainer in the solution for about 20 minutes and rinse thoroughly afterward.

Retainer Cleaner: There are some cleaners made especially for retainers! Some people like the convenience of a premade solution that they know will give their retainer an effective clean. It is important to follow the instructions indicated on the packaging. If you are unsure which retainer cleaner is best for you, ask your orthodontist for a recommendation.

Do Not Clean it With Toothpaste: Toothpaste actually contains abrasive ingredients that can scratch your retainer. Toothpaste is great for cleaning teeth because the enamel is extremely hard and durable. However, the materials that make your retainer are more delicate and can be damaged by toothpaste.

Drink Plenty of Water Throughout the Day: You can’t rely solely on drinking water to keep your retainer clean. However, if you drink a good amount of water throughout the day it can prevent the overgrowth of bacteria. Water can also prevent dry mouth, which is linked to tooth decay.

Additionally, dried-out retainers are more prone to damage, so keeping your mouth well-hydrated can help protect your retainer. Whenever you remove your retainer, store it in a glass of distilled water.

Keep your Retainer Case Clean: Some people are prescribed to wear their retainer all day, while others only are supposed to wear them while they sleep. If you only wear your retainers for about 8 hours at night, then there are 16 hours where your retainer sits in its case. The case can hold just as much bacteria at the actual retainer. Try to clean your case with a mild dish soap at least one or two times a week.

Braces are a big investment and retainers ensure that a smile stays straight. Cleaning retainers is essential to maintain a healthy mouth and keep retainers in good condition for longer.

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