Your journey to straighter and healthier teeth doesn’t just end with you having your braces removed. Our teeth can still move and shift out of place even when they’ve been set in place for a long time.
Retainers are the real key to repairing crooked teeth. These oral health tools are specially designed to keep your teeth from wandering and moving out of place. While some people might opt for fixed retainers, many others prefer to wear the removable variety instead.
Like any other object, your retainers can gather dirt, germs, plaque, and bacteria once they've stayed long enough in your mouth. You’ll need to clean and maintain them every day in order to avoid nasty complications and wasted efforts. Here are some important tips for keeping your removable retainers in proper shape.
1. Clean Your Retainers Every Day
The temptation to skip out on cleaning your retainer for one or two days might haunt you when you least expect it. It won’t take long for harmful germs, bacteria, dirt, and plaque to gather and grow on your retainers, so be sure to clean them every day! You don’t even need too many fancy tools or time to do so. A spare soft-bristled toothbrush and some non-abrasive denture cleaning tablets are already enough to do the job.
2. Don’t Take Too Much Heat
Try pouring hot coffee inside a regular plastic bottle. You’ll notice that the bottle warps and weakens when it’s filled with too much hot water. Retainers can also react in a similar way when they’re exposed to too much heat. You should avoid leaving your retainers in places that can become very hot, such as the dashboard of your car or your microwave. You should also use only lukewarm water when rinsing and cleaning your retainers as boiling water will damage your removable plastic retainers and render them useless.
3. Clean Gently, Not Harshly
Harsh and abrasive cleaning materials do more harm than good for your teeth and your oral hygiene tools. Some cleaning tablets containing ingredients like Persulfate have been known to damage retainers and trigger allergic reactions in people. Regular toothpaste should also be avoided as it can cause discoloration and damage. When in doubt, stick to non-abrasive cleaning products, baking soda, and vinegar instead.
4. Don’t Soak And Sink For Too Long
Unlike dentures, removable retainers don’t benefit much from a long overnight soak. Your retainers will break and corrode if they are left soaking in cleaning solutions containing vinegar, alcohol, and other chemical ingredients for too long. You should only soak your retainers for 3-5 minutes or follow the cleaning instructions written on the box of your cleaning tablets.
5. Keep Your Case Clean
Boxes and cases are just as prone to dirt and germs as any other object. Even the cleanest pair of retainers can become quite dirty when left inside a poorly maintained case. Before you store your retainers, be sure to gently clean and scrub your retainer case with warm water and enough soap. You can place your retainers inside the case once it’s become dry.
Napkins, tissues, and paper towels don’t make good substitutes for a good old retainer case. Since they aren’t designed for clean and sterile storage, they can attract dirt, germs, and bacteria to your removable retainers. You can also end up throwing your retainers away by mistake if you forget to store them properly. Always stick to a case that you can clearly recognize, clean, and remember.
6. Keep In Touch With Your Dentist
Retainers that are too loose, too tight, or too worn out for use won’t do your teeth any favors. Regular visits to your dentist will ensure that your removable retainers remain durable and fit for proper use. Visiting your dentist will also ensure that your teeth are kept free of stubborn germs, plaque, bacteria, and other serious signs of damage.