Some people believe that retainers will stay clean if you brush your teeth and don’t eat when wearing the retainer. However, cleaning your retainer every time you brush your teeth is as important as brushing your teeth. The unhealthy bacteria that can affect good tooth and gum health can also grow on a retainer. These bacteria can not only cause oral health problems for your teeth, but can also result in damage to the retainer, such as cracking, breaking, unpleasant smell or taste, cloudiness or spotting.
Simply rinsing a retainer in water will not suffice to clean it. However, retainers that dry out are more likely to become damaged. Therefore, soaking it in distilled water when it is not in use can help to prevent this. Retainers should be cleaned with room temperature or cold water and never hot, as it can distort retainer material.
A dentist can best advise the manner that is best for cleaning your particular retainer, and which products are safest and most effective. However, here are a few solutions that might work well for yours.
Toothpaste can be too abrasive for retainers, but one safe and inexpensive solution for cleaning is by using a soft toothbrush along with a paste made out of equal parts of baking soda and water, and then rinsing. It makes a good disinfectant that can control bacteria without harsh chemicals, and can even help to prevent the appliance from yellowing.
Castile soap made out of vegetable oil is a natural option, with less toxic ingredients than typical commercial cleaning products. Simply mix the soap with a small quantity of warm water and brush before rinse. If needed it can be left to soak for a couple minutes and brushed and rinsed again.
There are other less optimal choices that may be used in a pinch if any of these solutions are not available. Denture cleaner may be used if necessary, but it can cause yellowing. Soak 20 minutes, brush, and then rinse thoroughly to remove all residue.
However, proper retainer care should always be reviewed with your dentist and if oral health problems, sensitivity, or cavities occur, a dentist may need to check that the retainer is also fitting properly.
If would like more information about the proper care and fit of your retainer, Dr. Heidi Finkelstein and her caring staff at My Plantation Dentist can help. To schedule your appointment, please contact us today at 954-584-1030.