You've finally made it through your months to years of wearing braces and Dr. Cheba has given you your retainer. You have two steps after this: wear it and maintain it. But how do you do that? Dr. Cheba has some advice on how to keep your retainer clean.
How can I keep my retainer clean?
Keeping your retainer fresh and clean is a key part of your long terms or hygiene routine. Here are some tips to keep your retainer lasting as long as possible and staying clean throughout your day to day life.
1: Clean your retainer regularly.
While it isn't news to you that retainers sit on your teeth, it needs to be reinforced that they should stay as clean as possible in order to work effectively and avoid negatively impacting your oral health.
Removable retainers should be cleaned with warm water after each meal. To clean them more thoroughly, mix water with mild dish soap. Don't use toothpaste to clean your retainer though. Its abrasiveness can scratch or damage the retainer, creating places for bacteria or other germs to grow.
Retainers that are bonded or fixed should be flossed every day. Using 6 inches of floss, move it under your retaining wire and move it up and down the space between your teeth down to and below the gum line. Slide the floss sideways to the next area to be cleaned. Make sure you repeat this process for each tooth attached to your permanent retainer.
2: Heat is not your (retainer’s) friend.
Even though hot beverages or a sweltering summer day at the beach might be ideal for you, your retainer won't appreciate it. Not only can it get debris stuck in your retainer, leaving it out in the heat can permanently damage it.
Your retainer is a piece of plastic precisely shaped to your mouth. Leaving it out on your car's dashboard on a hot day or in your mouth while you sip a hot drink can warp or bend it. Any warping of your retainer at all will make it far less effective at holding your teeth in place. So, make sure you always handle your retainer with care and only clean it with warm water.
3: No harsh chemicals needed.
Don't both with harsh chemicals or cleansers when cleaning your retainer. Just use dish soap and water.
If you are especially worried about bacteria which can cause throat infections or other health problems, you can use chemical cleaning tablets to do so. Otherwise, soap and water is more than enough to keep your retainer clean.
4. Soak only as long as required.
Consider setting an alarm on your phone while soaking your retainer if you use cleaning tablets. Dr. Cheba will be able to advise you on how long you should soak your specific retainer brand. You can also check the tablet packaging for a sense of how long to soak your retainer.
You can also soak your retainer in mouthwash mixed with an equal amount of water to keep it smelling fresh. Only do this occasionally, however, if your mouthwash contains alcohol.
5. Store your retainer in its case
While you can remove some retainers to eat, making it easier to do so, you might lose your retainer or risk it getting dirty or damaged.
Removable retainers come with a case to prevent the risk of all that. Use it diligently both to keep track of your retainer and avoid any accidents.
6. Replace as needed.
Retainers don't have an indefinite lifespan. Over time they might become loose and not fit your teeth as they once did. Calcium might also build up, impacting how the retainer fits despite your best cleaning efforts.
When this happens, it's time to get a replacement. Dr. Cheba can create an impression of your teeth and have a new retainer made for you quite easily.
7. Remember to keep a spare retainer on hand.
Accidents happen, Retainers can become lost or damaged. They can also just wear out. Since getting a new retainer can take some time, Dr. Cheba advises that you keep a spare one on hand to prevent your teeth from shifting while you wait for a replacement. This is especially important in the first few months of using a retainer when your teeth are most at risk of this shifting.