How to Keep Your Retainer Clean and Risk-Free
So you finally got your retainer and now you’re trying to learn how to care for it. You can read lengthy articles on this subject, but always start with the knowledge that since your retainer is inside your mouth, it is prone to bacterial buildup.
The following are basic ways to keep your retainer clean, fresh, and bacteria-free:
Keep it away from high heat.
It’s probably obvious, but your retainer can actually warp when exposed to high heat, which is why you should only wash it in lukewarm water. With that, you also need to keep it away from dishwashers, washers and dryers, and the like.
Don’t use chemicals.
Great if you want your retainer to be squeaky clean, but if you think chemicals are the only way to do it, nah. Truth is, studies have shown that cleaning retainers with chemical tablets gives just about the same cleaning results as ordinary 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 want to use tablets, it’s important not to soak a Hawley retainer for too long as the chemicals could corrode the metal components. 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. Just remember to mix the mouthwash with lukewarm in equal parts. Also, alcohol can be damaging to plastic, so if your mouthwash lists it as an ingredient, only soak your retainer occasionally.
Clean your retainer’s case.
It’s as important to clean your retainer’s case as it is to clean your retainer. 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.
You don’t want your retainer in your dog’s mouth or him choking on it, so keep it in a safe place. Also, be careful where you put your retainer down before a meal. If you put it on a napkin, you might forget about it or unknowingly throw it away.
Get a new one when necessary.
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. An Essix retainer, for one, will usually have to be replaced after six months to a few years because plastic tends wear down fast. In contrast, a Hawley retainer can be used for up to 10 years, provided it is properly cared for.