As your orthodontics specialist in Utah, we at Redwood Orthodontics are responsible for every step of your care, from start to finish. Many of our longer term services like braces are the primary points of our service, but just as important for most people is the accompanying phase many of these same people receive: Retention, or the period where you wear a retainer.

Retainers go a long way to maintaining the changes impacted by our larger treatments, and it’s vital that they be worn for at least a year after most major treatments. A retainer is in your mouth every single day, meaning it’s vital to keep it clean – here are the risks of improperly cleaning a retainer, plus some tips for cleaning the most common types.

Risks of Improper Care

If it’s not cleaned properly, your retainer will harbor several harmful pathogens including bacteria, plaque and tartar. Bacteria including streptococci, S. Sanguinis and many others can build up over time and cause illness, many of which can become serious. You may also come down with candida, a yeast that can accumulate on the retainer.

Cleaning Standard Retainers

In a general sense, retainers are split into two categories: Those which are removed from your mouth, and those which remain in it permanently.

The first category are generally just considered standard retainers, and their cleaning process is simple:

  1. Begin cleaning as soon as the retainer is out of your mouth – while it’s still wet, and before it hardens and makes debris tougher to clean
  2. Brush it out with lukewarm water after every meal, if possible
  3. For cleaning, mix lukewarm water with mild soap and use a soft toothbrush to scrub the surface. Don’t use toothpaste – it’s rough and might scratch the surface
  4. If needed, use a cotton swab for tough areas
  5. In some cases, your orthodontist will recommend a retainer cleaner to soak it in overnight or for a few hours

Cleaning Bonded Retainers

Bonded retainers, or fixed bonded retainers, are the type which remain in your mouth permanently, and are not removed for cleaning. These can be a bit tougher to clean, but the steps will become simple enough once you get into them:

  1. Thread a six-inch piece of floss through your two front lower teeth
  2. Once the floss is under the retainer wire, move it up and down between the teeth all the way to the gum line
  3. Repeat this process for each area of the mouth, pulling down until the floss is between all teeth which are attached to the retainer

Have further questions about this or any other part of our orthodontic service? Speak to our experts at Redwood Orthodontics today.