Just like braces and Invisalign, it’s important for patients to keep their retainers clean so they don’t encounter dental problems like cavities and gum disease during their orthodontic treatment. Fortunately, taking care of them is relatively simple if you know the right steps, which is exactly what you’ll find below!
How to Clean a Removable Retainer
These retainers are usually made of acrylic and are held in place with small metal clasps. Because they are removable, cleaning them is relatively straightforward. All you have to do is:
- Always remove your retainers if you are going to eat.
- Before putting your retainers back into your mouth, gently rinse them off with cool water.
- Brush your retainers every time you brush your teeth, so at least twice a day (and ideally after each meal).
- To brush them, use a soft-bristled toothbrush and lukewarm water to remove any food debris and buildup (regular toothpaste is too abrasive and can scratch the plastic).
- Once a week, soak your retainers in a cup of water along with a denture or retainer cleaner like Efferdent or Polident. Ask your orthodontist for recommendations.
How to Clean a Fixed Retainer
As you can imagine, cleaning a fixed retainer is a little trickier because you can’t take it out. It is possible, however! You just need to:
- Grab a 6-inch piece of floss and put it through a floss threader (these are available in most stores and pharmacies in the oral care aisle).
- Use the thin end of the floss threader and gently push it through the space between the teeth that are bonded to the retainer.
- Once the floss is through, move it up and down the side of each tooth to remove plaque and food.
- Repeat this for each gap.
It’s important for patients with fixed retainers to get regular professional dental cleanings, because while daily flossing is extremely helpful, only a hygienist can fully clean the area.
How Your Orthodontist Can Help
If you ever have any questions about taking care of retainers, just ask your orthodontist, and they’ll be more than happy to help you put together a solid routine. You should also remember to bring your retainers to your regular progress checks. This way, if a retainer needs to be repaired or replaced, it can be done so right away.
Cleaning a retainer only takes a minute or so, but it can save you from a lot of headaches (and bad breath!) down the line, plus this will ensure that your newly straightened smile always looks and feels its best.
About the Author
Dr. Jeffrey Shirck is an award-winning, board-certified orthodontist that has been serving the Columbus area for over a decade. As such, he has a lot of experience when it comes to retainers! If you or your child has a retainer, or if you’re about to finish with braces or Invisalign, he would be happy to answer any questions you might have about this phase of treatment. To contact him and our friendly team, click here.