You are probably celebrating your new smile after completing your initial orthodontic treatment. Now that your braces are off, your orthodontist will get customized retainers designed for you, which you will have to wear for a year or so to ensure that your teeth do not shift back to their previous positions. Although you are allowed to remove your retainer when drinking, eating, or attending a social event, it needs to be cleaned regularly to maintain good oral hygiene.

How to Clean Your Retainers

There are various types of cleaning products available for cleaning retainers. Let’s discuss some of the best options here:

  1. Water
  2. Using water to clean your retainers is one of the best cleaning solutions. Follow these tips:

    • Washing your retainers while brushing your teeth discourages the growth of bacteria. You can also swish some water in your mouth a few times if your retainer feels dirty.
    • Do not allow retainers to dry out as they become more prone to damage. Soak them in distilled water every time you take them out. If you do not have a container to soak them in, or if the retainer is dirty and you cannot clean it right away, you can soak it in a damp paper towel.
    • Your retainer case needs to be cleaned regularly too. Clean it once a day before you put the retainer away. Use warm soapy water to gently scrub the surfaces, rinse it off and pat to dry.

  3. Baking Soda
  4. Baking soda is a natural disinfectant, and it is an effective substance for cleaning retainers. Follow these steps:

    • Make a paste by mixing equal amounts of baking soda and water. The paste should be thick enough to stick to your retainer.
    • Apply the paste onto the retainer with the help of a soft toothbrush. Brush gently and rinse it thoroughly with water to remove any residue.

    Soaking your trays in a baking soda and water solution whitens the retainers that may have turned yellowish, gets rid of bacteria, and maintains the pH balance in your mouth.

  5. Vinegar
  6. White vinegar is also a natural disinfectant. Use these steps to clean retainers with vinegar:

    • Combine equal parts of water and vinegar in a bowl or dish.
    • Soak your retainer for at least 20 minutes in the solution.

    Soaking your retainers in a vinegar and water solution removes calcium and mineral deposits on the retainers and also eliminates odors and bacteria.

  7. Castile Soap
  8. Castile soap is a safe and effective way to clean retainers.

    It is easy to make your own castile soap solution. You just have to mix coconut oil with olive oil. You can also buy castile soap from the store near you. Follow these steps:

    • Mix a small amount of castile soap with warm water.
    • Soak the retainer into the mixture.
    • Use a soft toothbrush to scrub it.
    • Ensure that you rinse your retainer with water before putting it back in your mouth.
    • Repeat the process as often as necessary.

  9. Retainer Cleaner
  10. If you do not have the time or desire to make your own retainer cleaning solution, you can buy retainer cleaners from the store. Follow the instructions given on the packaging. Your orthodontist will be able to recommend a retainer cleaner that is best for you.

How NOT to Clean Your Retainer

Many people do not practice the correct methods for cleaning their retainers. This can be a costly mistake because it can cause damage to your retainers. Do not make the following cleaning mistakes:

  1. Mouthwash:
  2. Anything that contains alcohol is not good for your retainers. And mouthwash has alcohol. It is less effective in cleaning the retainers, and it also dries out your retainers, making them more prone to damage.

  3. Toothpaste:
  4. It’s great for cleaning your teeth, but not your retainers. Toothpaste contains abrasive compounds that are good for scrubbing your enamel clean. Your enamel is tough and can handle it. But if you use toothpaste to clean your retainers, it will damage the delicate materials of your retainer.

  5. Cleaning Agents:
  6. Household cleaning agents, such as bleach, are too harsh on something that would go back into your mouth. The harsh chemicals in cleaning agents get absorbed by the retainer and dry it out.

  7. Denture Cleaners:
  8. Denture cleaners are sometimes used as retainer cleaners, but they are not the same. Many of the dental cleaners contain persulfate, a chemical labeled as an allergen by the FDA. Dental cleaners can remove the buildup, but they can also cause damage to your retainer. If you continue using denture cleaners as retainer cleaners, they can change the color of your retainer. Use only as an emergency solution.

  9. Soda:
  10. Carbonated drinks like cola are effective cleaners on different materials but definitely not on retainers. Using these drinks to clean retainers is a great way to create a breeding ground for bacteria in your mouth.

  11. Extreme Heat:
  12. Boiling retainer in water will distort the shape of your retainer. In fact, the water doesn’t even need to be boiling to change the shape of the soft materials used in your retainer. The distorted shape of the retainer affects the way it interacts and guides your teeth.

    Retainer Cleaning Myths

    Some of the common retainer cleaning myths that you should not believe are:

    • Retainers are clean as long as you brush your teeth regularly and take them off when eating.
    • Retainer cleaners or cleaning solutions are bad for your teeth and your retainer.
    • If you are taking probiotics and other supplements, they keep your mouth and retainer healthy without cleaning them.
    • You need good bacteria on your retainer. And cleaning the retainer destroys these good bacteria.

    Final Thoughts

    Your retainer goes into your mouth and is in direct contact with your teeth. If it is not cleaned, it can cause bacterial growth, plaque, and tartar buildup in your teeth. Therefore, it is important to keep your retainer clean and odor-free, and it is equally important to know how to properly clean your retainer.

    If you need more information on how to clean your retainers or if you are thinking about orthodontic treatment, contact Koch Orthodontist, your orthodontistin Lawrenceville.