Summer means sunshine, warmer weather, and unfortunately, a greater chance of bacterial overgrowth on your appliances. Retainers are the perfect place for bacteria to grow since they thrive in warm, moist conditions and can be transmitted through food. However, with a little attention to detail and a simple routine, you can keep your retainer sparkling clean all summer. Here are five tips to make sure you’re keeping your retainer and mouth in good shape all season.
- Freshen it up with water: If your retainer feels dirty while you’re out and about and you don’t have enough time for a full cleaning, try swishing some water around your mouth. Staying hydrated, which is important to do when it’s hot outside, can also help prevent bacterial overgrowth, dry mouth, and tooth decay. Always remember to remove your retainer before enjoying a sugary beverage—or avoid the hassle altogether and opt for water instead.
- Brush it regularly: Just like your teeth, you should be cleaning your retainer, too. Use a toothbrush and a non-whitening toothpaste to gently brush your retainer, and then rinse it thoroughly before storing it or putting it in your mouth. If the retainer looks cloudy, has white spots on it, carries a bad odor or taste, or hasn’t been cleaned in over a week, it’s definitely time to clean it. You’d never go a week without brushing your teeth and the same should apply to your retainer!
- Store it safely: Your retainer should be stored in a case when it is not in use. If you don’t have a case nearby, a damp paper towel is a sufficient temporary solution to soak it. Retainers are more likely to get damaged if they dry out, so the damp paper towel ensures your retainer will last a long time and won’t break or lose its shape. Your retainer can also be soaked in denture cleaner. This can sometimes cause it to have a slight odor or taste, but it can be easily eradicated by a quick rinse with water.
- Other cleaning methods: White vinegar, Castille soap, and mouthwash are all gentle disinfectants that may be used to clean your retainer. To find out which option is best for you, ask your orthodontist to recommend a cleaner that is suited to your individual retainer needs.
- Set a reminder: Consistency is key! A reminder in your phone or a note on your bathroom mirror can help you remember to clean or put in your retainer. Starting a routine early will help establish a pattern of behavior that sticks. After a few weeks, you probably won’t need the reminder anymore! It only takes a few minutes, but your retainer and teeth will thank you for it.
Enjoy your healthy, aligned smile for life! With these tips, you’ll be able to care for your appliance and retain the smile you deserve. For more information or to book an appointment, call our team today.