The importance of proper dental hygiene cannot be stressed enough, and that’s especially true if you’re wearing a retainer. A retainer is often worn to keep your teeth in place. If the retainer is not cleaned properly, bacteria can build up, multiply, and even cause an infection. To help you avoid all that, we’ll let you in on the best way to clean your retainer.
Daily Cleaning Routine
Having a proper daily cleaning routine is the best way to keep bacteria away and extend the life of your retainer. Moreover, regular cleaning can help you avoid yellow stains or white spots on your teeth. Both are almost impossible to remove after they’ve already formed, so being careful in your dental hygiene is a must!
When it comes to the best way to clean your retainer, there are certain steps you need to take every day:
1. Rinse It
As soon as you wake up, it would be best if you rinsed your retainer. Rinse the retainer first thing and leave out to air dry. Also, be careful to do it in cool or lukewarm water. This is because hot water can sometimes warp the material and change the shape of your retainer.
2. Brush It
Next, you should use a soft-bristle toothbrush to gently brush your retainer. This is important because it removes a layer of plaque, stains, and bacteria that the mechanical action only can get rid of. It’s an essential step in the daily cleaning of your retainer. Clear aligners have become quite popular in recent years. And if this is your choice too, you should know they’re more prone to staining and bacteria buildup than other braces. Therefore, your clear aligners will require as much hygiene care as regular braces.
You can use toothpaste in all of these cases, but only if it’s the nonabrasive kind that won’t damage your mouth guard or retainer. You
must brush all edges and angles of your retainer, not just the part that comes into contact with your teeth. However, it would help if you did it gently, not to scratch or damage any surface.
3. Let It Air Dry
Allowing your mouth guard or retainer to dry fully before storing it is another one of the most critical measures in preventing bacteria buildup. This is because germs are more prone to grow in damp environments. So, after absorbing the majority of the water with a cloth, place your retainer on a clean surface to air dry entirely before putting it in its case.
4. Store It Properly
When your night guard or retainer is dry, store it in your retainer case to keep it clean and safe. Cleaning your night guard thoroughly to hold it in a filthy case defeats the point. So, make sure that the case is always clean and dry because, as you probably know, moisture is bacteria’s best friend.
If you want to ensure your retainer is clean to the highest standards, don’t forget to also clean your case every few days. You can use dish soap and hand wash your case every few days and then give it a really good rinse.
Weekly Cleaning Routine
Once a week, give your retainer a deeper cleaning. You can do this by using denture cleaners. However, keep in mind that the directions for denture cleaners differ by brand, so make sure you always read the instructions. Moreover, set a timer, and don’t soak your retainer or mouth guard for too long.
The other option for deep cleaning is to use mouthwash or hydrogen peroxide. You can dilute a capful of non-alcoholic mouthwash with enough water to cover your retainer or night guard in a glass. Allow at least 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes for it to soak. It’s essential to use the non-alcoholic kind of mouthwash because it might harm and shorten the life span of your retainer otherwise.
If you don’t have any mouthwash, hydrogen peroxide will also suffice. Mix a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water in equal parts, and let your mouth guard or retainer soak.
Be sure to bring your retainer with your to your dental appointments for it to be evaluated.
It’s essential to examine your retainer every once in a while for signs of wear. If dental work is done, a new retainer may be needed to fit your new bite.
When Should You Replace Your Retainer?
On average, retainers typically last five years. If you use yours more frequently or have a grinding habit, you’ll probably need a new retainer once a year.
To ensure your retainer is in good shape, check for signs like cracks, tears, poor fit, deformed shape, discoloration, foul odor, etc. If you notice any of these, let your dentist know and replace your retainer as soon as possible to avoid harm to your teeth or jaw. Even if you don’t tell your dentist, they’ll notice it at your regular checkups and let you know if it’s the time for a new retainer.
Your retainer, like your teeth, needs regular cleaning and maintenance to stay in good shape. The best way to clean your retainer is to do multiple cleaning steps each day and remain persistent. Including these procedures in your daily regimen will go a long way toward keeping it fresh and clean and ensuring that it lasts as long as possible. Call top North Bergen dentist, Dr. Chithra Durgam to setup an appointment to review techniques to clean your retainer.