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7 Tips on How to Keep Your Retainer Clean & Fresh

You've finished your braces treatment and your orthodontist has given you a retainer. Next, You have to wear and maintain your retainer. Here, our Winnipeg orthodontists share helpful tips for wearing your retainer and how you can keep it clean. 

How to Keep Your Retainer Clean

It's an important part of your oral hygiene routine to make sure your retainer stays clean and fresh. In this blog, we offer you some tips and tricks on how you can help your retainer last a long time, and keep it squeaky clean during daily wear.

1: Regularly Clean Your Retainer

We know it’s not news to you that these retainers are on your teeth, so it’s imperative to ensure they stay clean so they work effectively and so your oral health isn't impacted by a dirty retainer.

Removable retainers can be cleaned with lukewarm water following each meal. For a deeper clean, try mixing the water with mild dish soap. Do not use toothpaste to clean your retainer, as its abrasive qualities can scratch its surface, and scratches are the perfect spot for bacteria to hide.

Fixed or bonded retainers should be flossed daily. Using a 6-inch piece of floss, move it under your retainer wire, bringing it up and down between the teeth, all the way to the gum line (and below the gum line if possible). Then slide the floss sideways to the next area to be cleaned. Repeat the process with each tooth that is attached to your permanent retainer.

2: Heat Isn't Your (Retainer’s) Friend

While you might enjoy spending a hot summer day at the beach or a hot cup of tea on a chilly winter day, your retainer won’t. On top of debris getting caught in your retainer in these situations, leaving it out in the heat could make it useless.

While your retainer is a marvel of modern engineering, it is still a piece of plastic that can get warped if it's left on the dashboard of your car on a hot day or you leave it in your mouth while you sip on a hot beverage. Because your retainer is custom-made to fit your mouth precisely, any warping will make it misshapen and less effective at keeping your teeth in their proper positions. So, always carefully handle your retainer – and only clean it with warm water, never hot.

3: You Don't Need Harsh Chemicals

You can forgo harsh cleansers and chemicals when cleaning your retainer and simply clean it using the dish soap/water combination mentioned above.

If you are worried about bacteria such as Streptococcus, that can cause strep throat, chemical cleaning tablets can be used to kill these. Otherwise, your routine soap and water should suffice.

4. Only Soak As Long As Needed

You might want to have an alarm set on your phone when you are soaking your retainer if you are using cleaning tablets (ask your orthodontist how long you should soak your specific retainer brand, or check the packaging on the tablets).

You may also soak your retainer in mouthwash to help keep it smelling fresh - just combine it with an equal amount of lukewarm water. And only soak your retainer in mouthwash occasionally if the mouthwash you are using contains alcohol.

5. Keep Your Retainer In Its Case

Removable retainers can be a double-edged sword. You can take them out to eat, which makes eating easier, but if you tend to be absent-minded, you could find yourself losing your retainer or leaving it at risk of getting dirty or damaged.

Your retainer will come with a case to help prevent all of this. Use the case diligently to prevent any mishaps.

6. Replace As Required

As with anything else, retainers have a lifespan to their usefulness. As time passes they might become loose and not fit your teeth as snugly as they did before, or calcium builds up and starts to affect the way the retainer fits, despite the effort you put into keeping it clean.

When these things happen, it’s time to get a new retainer. At Village Orthodontics, we can create an impression of your teeth and have a brand new retainer made for you.

7. Always Have a Spare Retainer On Hand

Mishaps happen. Retainers become lost, damaged in the scenarios mentioned above, or they just wear out. Because getting a new retainer may take time, you’ll want to keep a spare one on hand to use in the meantime to prevent your teeth from shifting (especially a danger in the first few months after your braces are removed).

Contact our Winnipeg orthodontists today with any questions you have about wearing or maintaining your retainer and schedule an appointment.

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