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:
Stay away from high heat.
It looks obvious, but yes, your retainer can warp in high temperatures, and that is why you should only use lukewarm water when washing it. That said, you should also keep it away from microwaves, your car’s dashboard, and the like.
You got it absolutely wrong if you think chemicals are the best way to a squeaky clean retainer. In fact, researchers have long proven that cleaning retainers with chemical tablets brings just about the same outcome as plain old-fashioned brushing. Nonetheless, the tablets particularly worked to eliminate cocci bacteria, such as those known to cause tonsilitis and sore throat.
Have a soak schedule.
If you want to use chemical tablets for your Hawley retainer, remember not to soak it for too long or the metal components could corrode. Instead, soak it only for the time it takes to clean it or according to the tablet manufacturer. 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.
Cleaning your retainer’s case regularly is as important as cleaning your retainer itself. This should be done at least once daily just before you put your retainer away at bedtime. Scrub every surface in warm, soapy water, rinse it off and pat to dry.
You don’t want your poodle chewing on your retainer or getting choked by it, so find a good place for it. As well, be careful when you put your retainer down at mealtime. If you put it on a napkin, you might forget about it or unknowingly throw it away.
Get a new one when necessary.
Finally, keep in mind that retainers are no different from your footwear – after a while, you’re going to have to replace them as they give in to daily wear. 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. Compare this to a Hawley retainer, which can last for up to a decade as long as it is given proper care.