How to Keep Your Retainer Clean and Risk-Free
So you just started wearing a retainer and you want to know how to care for it the best way. You can find so many tips out there, but here’s where they all boil down to: your retainer may accumulate bacteria from your mouth, and that’s what you have to prevent.
The following are basic ways to keep your retainer clean, fresh, and bacteria-free:
Keep it away from high heat.
Your retainer can easily warp when exposed to high heat, so it’s crucial that you only use lukewarm water when cleaning it. Given that, you must keep it away from microwaves, washers and dryers, and other heat sources.
Don’t use chemicals.
You got it absolutely wrong if you think chemicals are the best way to a squeaky clean retainer. In fact, researchers have long discovered that chemical cleaning tablets made barely a cleaning difference compared to simple brushing. Nonetheless, the tablets particularly worked to eliminate cocci bacteria, such as those known to cause tonsilitis and sore throat.
Schedule your soak.
If you plan to use tablets anyway, don’t leave your Hawley retainer soaked for too long – this can cause corrosion of the metal components. Instead, keep it soaked only as you’re cleaning it, or read the tablet’s label for instructions. A quick mouthwash soak also helps to freshen the smell and kill some germs. And remember: equal parts mouthwash and lukewarm water. If your mouthwash has alcohol, only soak your retainer once in a while as alcohol can harm plastic.
Use a clean retainer case.
Aside from cleaning your retainer, you also have to clean its case regularly. You have to do it at least once everyday before putting your retainer away for the night. Be sure to scrub all surfaces using warm a warm soap-and-water solution before rinsing off and patting to dry.
The last thing you want is seeing your pet chewing or choking on your retainer, so make sure it’s in a safe spot. As well, be careful when you put your retainer down at mealtime. If you just place it on some napkin, you might forget about it after eating or it could end up in the trash.
If necessary, replace it.
Finally, remember that retainers are like your shoes – they’re subject to day-to-day wear and tire and will have to be replaced after a while. For instance, if you’re using an Essix retainer, you may have to replace it every half a year to a few years due to plastic wearing out. In contrast, a Hawley retainer can be used for up to 10 years, provided it is properly cared for.