It’s vitally important you clean your retainer every few days, because the same bacteria that build up on your teeth can grow on a retainer too. As a result, using an unclean retainer in your mouth is like applying a bacteria and plaque-plagued solution to your teeth and gums on a daily basis! We’re going to share some tips on how best to clean your retainer to avoid unwanted build-up, smells, and hygiene disputes.

When to clean a retainer

Really, you should perform light cleaning whenever you brush your teeth. This means that you’re providing the same dedication to hygiene that your teeth and gums are, so neither’s physical and bacterial state will negatively impact the other. This means every morning a night a light rinsing or brushing after you’ve cleaned your teeth will maintain a happy and healthy relationship between the device and your mouth. A more extensive and attentive cleaning is needed once a week on top of this.

Indications your retainer is in need of a scrub is if it smells or tastes bad (this is a sign of bacteria present, yuck!), there is a film on developing on it, it appears cloudy, or it is developing white spots. If you’re waiting any longer than a week to clean your retainer, you need to reconsider. These white spots that develop could be tartar, a mineral build-up known for causing gum disease, plaque that contributes to cavities and decay, or even a combination of the both. Letting bacteria and plaque continue to grow on your retainers will lead to them breaking and cracking, so try to keep on top of your cleaning routines.

The best ways to clean your retainer

Water will not clean a retainer on its own but drinking plenty of water during the day can prevent bacteria overgrowth. This is because the swilling or rinsing around of water dislodges food and sugar fragment, leaving less fodder for the bacteria to feast on. This means rinsing with water is also good for preventing damage, since bacteria causes the cracking.

Baking soda is particularly effective because it’s a safe, all-purpose disinfectant. This is because it controls bacteria growth and presence without harsh chemicals that will cause our mouth discomfort. It’s also capable of preventing a retainer from developing pH imbalances that harm the soft tissue in your mouth. You use baking soda by making a sort of paste; mix the baking soda with water and make sure its thick enough to stick to the device. Scrub it gently with a soft toothbrush and rinse any residue thoroughly afterwards.

Mouthwash can be used, but only on occasions when you’re really stuck. Once or twice here and there is fine, but it can dry out the retainer and mouth and won’t work as well as you’d think. If you’re caught unawares, though, try dipping your retainer in non-alcoholic mouthwash for 2-3 minutes, rinse with cold water, and then gently brush with a soft toothbrush.

Keeping your retainer clean also helps keep your mouth clean, so you can continue to straighten your teeth. Braces are available from us at Heaton Mersey Orthodontic Centre in Stockport, Manchester, so enquire online or call 0161 947 9900 to book your orthodontic consultation today.


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