Retainers: How Clean Are Yours?

If you have already gone through the braces process, you probably have retainers that Dr. Reddick recommends you wear every night. The purpose of these retainers is to ensure that your teeth do not shift back after all of the hard work that was put into crafting your beautiful smile. Wearing your retainers every night while you sleep gives your teeth the reminder they need to stay right where they are. And while that’s all great, there is more to retainers than just wearing them. Just like your wonderful teeth, your retainers need to be cleaned as well.

How Dirty Are Your Retainers?

According to LiveScience, a new study found that at least half of the orthodontic devices have potentially dangerous microbes growing on them. In other words, unless you are cleaning your retainers religiously, there is definitely harmful bacteria living on your retainers. Bacteria can never really go away, so it can either be maintained or it can turn into further health issues and cause problems that start in the mouth and spread throughout the entire body.

Jonathan Pratten of the University College London Eastman Dental Institute and his colleagues took samples from the mouths of people who wear retainers and found that 66.7 percent of retainers and retainer wearing mouths contained Candida. This is a kind of fungus that can start out as a harmless microscopic organism in the body and eventually lead to a yeast infection.

They also found traces of staphylococcus, which is where staph infections come from. While not all participants in the study actually had staph infections, it was an important discovery because it showed that it is possible to develop illnesses from the bacteria on retainers if they are not cleaned properly.

So to answer the question, retainers are very dirty. This of course is to be expected as they spend all of their time either in a mouth, in a small plastic container, or in many cases, even a few moments in a cafeteria garbage can. But there is good news. This dirt and bacteria should not be an issue for anyone who regularly washes both their hands and their retainers. The reality is, there are germs everywhere! Without them, our immune systems would not be strong enough to fight off the ones that can actually make us sick.

What Can You Do About It?

If you are a retainers wearer, you do not need to fret. Brushing your retainers after wearing them with some good old fashioned toothpaste and toothbrush is a simple way to keep those smile savers in great shape. This is easy to remember because you can do it right after brushing your teeth! It is also easier to clean your retainers right after you take them out of your mouth and they are still wet.

Another way to clean your retainers is by soaking them in a denture or retainer cleaner, like Efferdent or Polident. Mixing a cup of lukewarm water with one tablet of the cleaner is an excellent way to deep clean your retainers and get rid of harmful germs and bacteria.

If you are looking for a more natural method of cleaning your retainers, try baking soda as a substitution for the cleaning tablets. For people who are more prone to allergies than others, this seems to be the best option because it is a natural cleaner and helps to increase the pH of the mouth. Create a paste by combining equal parts water and baking soda and scrub your retainer the same way you would your teeth.

In addition to regularly cleaning your retainers, there are several other tips to maintain the cleanliness of your retainers. Avoid heat such as boiling water, microwaves, dishwashers, washers and dryers. Also, don’t stop at just cleaning your retainers, clean your retainers case as well. Cleaning it once a day before you put your retainer away by gently scrubbing it in warm, soapy water and rinsing it off can help keep your retainers cleaner for longer.

It is also extremely important to remember that many of the germs that are on retainers come from mouths. So it is still a necessity that people who wear retainers continue to keep the health of their mouth in check, and that means regular brushing, flossing, and washing hands.