Congratulations! You finally have had your braces removed. The hard part is over, and now you can let everyone see that beautiful smile. After having braces, we recommend retainers to keep teeth from shifting. But what is the best way to clean your retainer? First, you need to identify what type of retainer you have.
There are three types of retainers:
Hawley retainers are made out of acrylic to fit the shape of your mouth and teeth. These are removable.
Clear plastic retainers, such as Essix, slip over the teeth and are essentially invisible. They are removable as well.
Fixed (or bonded) retainers are attached to the lower front teeth and are usually only used if you have a high risk of your teeth shifting.
Depending on if you have a removable or fixed retainer, here are some tips for cleaning them:
For removable retainers:
It’s recommended you clean your retainer every time you brush your teeth. Ideally, you should clean it after every meal, and give it a more thorough clean once a week.
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and lukewarm water. Hot or boiling water can warp or ruin a retainer’s shape.
Don’t use toothpaste! Toothpaste is abrasive and can scratch the retainer’s surface, which makes more surface area for bacteria to cling to. A little bit of mild dish soap works great.
You can soak your retainer in products such as Retainer Brite or Fresh Guard. While you can use mouthwash in a pinch, it can be harmful if used repeatedly.
If there are stubborn plaque or stains that you just can’t remove, take it to your dentist or orthodontist. They have special solutions to clean it to be good as new.
Don’t forget to clean your retainer case! It’s a good idea to clean once a day. Use a tiny bit of mild dish soap and water to clean.
Fixed retainers are attached to your teeth, so flossing daily is essential to keeping them clean. It is a little more difficult to floss with a fixed retainer, but it will get easier with a little practice.
Take a 6-inch piece of floss and thread it between your two front lower teeth (a floss threader can help a lot!)
Wrap the floss around the back of one of the teeth and thread it through on the other side (This will make a U-shape around the back of tooth)
Get the floss under the retainer wire and move the floss up and down against the tooth to clean. Be gentle and try to get below the gum line if possible.
Move on to the next tooth and repeat the same process. Keep going for all of the teeth the fixed retainer is attached to.
Cleaning your retainer regularly is important to keep bacteria, bad tastes, and funky smells from taking hold. With these tips, we hope that it will make cleaning a little easier. Our friendly staff at Georgia School of Orthodontics are available if you need any more tips or help for cleaning your retainer, and any other orthodontic needs. We are committed to helping our clients obtain a beautiful smile.
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