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How To Clean Retainers So They Last

You will always remember the day you get your braces off. You can’t help but run your tongue over your slippery teeth and will smile at yourself at every reflective surface you pass. You have every right to be smiling. It’s an exciting time when you finally get your braces off, so make sure to keep those pearly whites in tip-top shape. Below are tips on how to clean retainers, so they will last.

Why Wear Your Retainer

While braces served their purpose, the only fun thing about braces is getting to pick different colored bands every few weeks. The long term care and health of your teeth begin the moment you get your braces off. You will have to have a retainer to make sure the smile you worked so hard to get will stay that way. Read on to find out what you’ll need to do to make sure your retainer stays in good shape, and how to clean retainers so it will last for the long haul.

Why Are Retainers Important

You probably know what retainers are since most people end up getting some orthodontic work done in their lifetime. They are generally made out of a plastic and metal combination. No two retainers are alike since they are custom-fit to each person.

After you have done the hard, and sometimes painful work of wearing braces now comes the retainer. Retainers are so important to maintain your teeth shape. Even though your bones have now changed shape, your teeth will want to continue to move around. For people who have smaller teeth and a larger jaw bone, the teeth will want to spread out, causing gaps. If you have already spent a lot of time and money on braces, you probably don’t want to spend more time and money on braces again.

Types of Retainers

There are two types of retainers. Removable and permanent.

Removable Retainers

Removable retainers are made of plastic and metal. Just like they sound, these retainers are removable for doing things like eating and talking. It is recommended that retainers are worn full time for the first 4-6 months after getting your braces off, and then indefinitely at night after that.

Permanent Retainers

After braces, most people get a permanent retainer on their bottom teeth to keep them aligned. Some people have had their permanent retainer in for 15-20 years.

Continue reading for some tips to get the most out of your retainer.

How To Clean Retainers So They Last

The retainer and the case both need to be cleaned frequently. Your mouth is filled with bacteria, which means your retainer, and the case will become filled with bacteria if they aren’t properly cleaned.

The care of both permanent and removable retainers are important to maintain your oral health and your retainer durability.

Permanent Retainers

If you have a permanent retainer bonded to your teeth, then you will need to take extra care when you are flossing. You will most likely need to use a floss threader to get the floss behind your bar. Flossing underneath the bar to make sure there isn’t a plaque build-up is a must.

Removable Retainers

Removable retainers require a bit more maintenance than permanent retainers. If you’re wondering how to clean retainers so they last, then follow these 6 tips as an easy guide for how to clean retainers, so they last.

1. Heat and Retainers Do Not Mix

The heat will damage the plastic parts. For example, the dishwasher is not a good place to clean your retainer because the water is too hot. It’s also not a good idea to leave your retainer on your dashboard or put it in the microwave. Make sure to use warm water when cleaning and not with hot water.

2. Dish Soap Over Chemicals

A little dish soap, warm water, and a soft-bristle brush are all you need to keep your retainer clean.

Your retainer can carry bacteria, like Streptococcus, which will make you sick. It might seem like you want to bust out the heavy-duty chemicals to clean, but the harsh chemicals can cause damage to your retainer, and it’s not a good idea to put those chemicals in your mouth.

3. Soak

Equal parts mouthwash and lukewarm water can create a solution that will kill bacteria and freshen up your retainer. Don’t let the retainer soak for too long, and don’t do this too often.

You can also talk to your orthodontist to see if you can use a denture cleaning solution.

4. Clean Your Case

A clean case is just as important as keeping the retainer clean itself. You can quickly clean your case with a small amount of dish soap and lukewarm water. Wash and dry your case every day.

5. Keep it Safe

When you are in the first few months of post-braces life, it gets annoying to take your retainer out for every meal. Make sure you keep your case with you at all times so you can put your retainer in a safe place. Yes, it’s annoying to do this, but having to get a new retainer is much more annoying (and more expensive).

6. Replace

As with anything, you should probably inspect it before putting something into your mouth. If you notice some wear, weird spots or anything unusual about your retainer, then you should probably get a new one. Take it into your orthodontist, and they can determine if it’s time for a new one or not.

Even with the proper care and maintenance, removable retainers won’t last forever. They typically last about ten years. You will also have to go in occasionally to get fitted for a new retainer.

At Smiles for Life, your oral health is of the utmost importance to us. We know that the proper care of your mouth will lead to a beautiful smile that will last you a lifetime. Give us a call today and let us help you achieve your smile dreams.

American Dental Association American Association of Orthodontists Texas Association of Orthodontists Southwestern Society of Orthodontists