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Cleaning Your Retainers: 5 Top Tips to Keep Them Like New

No more braces or clear aligners! You’re done with your treatment and have that beautiful smile you’ve worked hard to achieve. Now you must keep that smile straight and beautiful; your retainers are the best way. 

Your retainers are made to last a lifetime, and you’ll need to wear them from now on to keep your smile straight, though you can reduce the number of hours you wear them eventually. You also need to keep your retainers clean. The team at Hentscher-Johnson Orthodontics has tips on the best ways to keep your retainers clean, safe, and like new so they last for years to come.

Traditional metal braces are the most common type of braces and are more comfortable today than ever before. Made of high-grade stainless steel, metal braces straighten your teeth using metal brackets and archwires. With metal braces, you have the option of adding colored elastics (rubber bands) for a more unique and colorful smile.

You Need to Clean Your Retainers — Here’s Why

Cleaning your retainers is as important as brushing and flossing your teeth daily. You know that brushing and flossing reduce your chances of gum disease, tooth decay, or tooth loss. Brushing and flossing remove the bacteria and plaque that cause these diseases. 

It’s crucial to clean your retainers often, as bacteria and plaque from your teeth can easily move to them. If you don’t clean them, you risk reintroducing the bacteria and plaque into your mouth every time you use your retainers. Keep your retainers clean for better oral health and hygiene.

Candida albicans is a type of yeast shown to build up on retainers. Without cleaning, that buildup can transfer to your mouth, where it can cause infections. Regular cleaning off your retainers reduces or eliminates the yeast buildup on your retainers, reducing your chances of getting an infection in your mouth.

If you find that your gums, cheeks, or tongue are getting irritated, or you may have an infection from your retainers, contact Hentscher-Johnson Orthodontics immediately in the Columbia, IL, or Waterloo, IL, areas. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can treat it before it becomes painful or more dangerous.

Types of Retainers

There are three primary types of retainers: two that can be removed and one bonded to the back of your teeth. Although clear retainers are more popular with patients nowadays, you might still prefer the classic type of retainer.

  • Hawley RetainerThe traditional retainer is a custom-molded acrylic mouthpiece with wires that fit over your teeth to hold them in place. You can remove this retainer for easy cleaning.
  • Clear Retainers — Clear retainers, also known as Vivera retainers, Essix retainers, or clear aligners, are removable devices that maintain your teeth’ position. They have a similar appearance to clear aligners.
  • Fixed RetainersFixed retainers involve bonding a wire to the back of your lower teeth and sometimes the upper teeth. These permanent retainers require thorough brushing and flossing to avoid tartar buildup.

5 Top Tips for Cleaning Your Retainers

What’s the best way to clean your retainers and keep them clean? There are a few ways to keep your retainers clean, but no matter which one you choose, rinse them well before putting them back in your mouth.

Here are some tips on keeping your removable retainers clean. 

  • Rinse your retainers. Always rinse your retainers when you take them out before putting them back in your mouth. Brushing your teeth beforehand is best, but if you can’t brush, rinse your mouth with water to remove any food particles. 
  • Soak your retainers. Soak your retainers in warm water with retainer cleaning solutions, like tablets. Avoid using denture tablets containing abrasives, which make clear retainers look cloudy. Rinse your retainers well before using them again.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush or cotton swab. Use a cotton swab or soft-bristled toothbrush to gently brush your retainer, but avoid toothpaste since it can make them look cloudy.
  • Use safe cleaning alternatives. Clean your retainers with diluted white distilled vinegar, baking soda, or clear antibacterial soap in lukewarm water if you don’t have retainer cleaning tablets. Rinse them well after cleaning.
  • Never use hot water. Avoid hot water when cleaning your retainers since they can warp or damage them. 

It’s vital to clean your retainers every day. If done properly, it can help extend the life of your retainers and allow you to keep your teeth straight and beautiful for years to come.

Maintenance Tips for Your Retainers

We have a few more tips that will help you keep your retainers like new for years. 

  • Remove your retainers to eat or drink, but brush your teeth and replace them immediately after your meal. You must wear your retainers at least 22 hours daily for the first few months to be effective. 
  • Coffee, tea, sodas, fruit juices, and other dark liquids can stain your retainers. Remove your retainers for these drinks, but put them back in your mouth as soon as possible. Try to save these drinks for meals so you don’t have to use the extra time to consume them. 
  • Don’t wrap your retainers in a napkin at restaurants. You may accidentally throw them out. Keep your retainers in storage until you can put them back into your mouth. 
  • Never try to clean your retainers with sharp objects. You could damage the retainer. 
  • Contact Hentscher-Johnson Orthodontics if your retainer is damaged, doesn’t fit correctly, or is causing swelling or pain. Call us if you lose your retainers so we can replace them quickly.

Retainers in Colombia & Waterloo, IL

Retainers play an essential role in maintaining your teeth’s position after wearing braces or clear aligners. They prevent your teeth from moving and ruining the perfect smile you achieved. 

Hentscher-Johnson Orthodontics can assist you with any problems you may encounter. Soak your retainers in warm water with a retainer cleaning tablet, avoiding abrasive denture tablets that can make them cloudy. Rinse the retainers well before wearing them again, and use a soft-bristled brush or cotton swab to clean out any plaque and tartar from crevices. Schedule an appointment with us to learn more!

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