One of the most challenging things about having a retainer is keeping it clean.
And since there are 2 different types of retainers (bonded and removable) they both require a different approach in order to keep them clean too.
How to keep bonded retainers clean
Retainers that are bonded behind the teeth look nice and do their job without your help.
Unfortunately they also tend to accumulate plaque and require more time and effort when you are flossing.
There are 3 ways to clean bonded retainers which are attached to the teeth.
1. Floss threaders
Floss threaders are a little plastic device that can be used to help direct floss between the teeth and under your retainer wire.
Retainers that are bonded behind the teeth look nice and do their job without your help. Unfortunately they also tend to accumulate plaque and require more time and effort when you are flossing.
Once the floss is under the wire, it can be moved up and down the sides of the adjacent teeth to remove plaque as normal.
You must re-thread the floss between every two teeth that are bonded to the retainer.
“Superfloss” is a pre-cut piece of floss on which one end has been stiffened with plastic to make it easier to threat in between the teeth.
This makes it much faster and easier to floss if you have a bonded retainer fitted since the thread won’t bend or twist when moving between the teeth.
The third option is to use small brushes or “piksters” that fit between the teeth.
These are a great way to precisely target the areas between the teeth with bristles similar to a toothbrush.
How to keep removable retainers clean
One of the advantages of having a removable retainer is that they’re easier to clean.
1. Clean your retainer immediately
Make sure you clean your retainer as soon as you remove it from your mouth.
If you don’t, then you’ll risk any debris getting drying and getting stuck onto the retainer.
2. Use lukewarm water
Every time you eat, you should clean your retainer using lukewarm water.
It’s important not to use hot water because this could distort the shape of the retainer itself and reduce its effectiveness.
While you’re doing this, brush your teeth at the same time.
3. Don’t use toothpaste
To assist with cleaning the retainer, use a small amount of dishwashing detergent rather than toothpaste.
Toothpaste is slightly abrasive and can great scratches and grooves where plaque and debris can get stuck over time.
Use a soft toothbrush to gently scrub the surface clean.
Retainers are an important part of your orthodontic treatment because they ensure your teeth stay in the correct position after the braces come off.
But it’s also important that you keep your retainer clean so that you don’t end up having straight teeth but unhealthy gums or bad breath at the same time.