Wondering how to clean your retainer? Hint: it involves more than splashing a bit of cold water on it every night (we see you!).
The truth is, washing your retainer is actually a super important task and should not be done haphazardly. After all, you put this device in your mouth every single day. Surely, you don’t want it to be covered in germs!
In this post, we’ll explain how to wash your retainer properly and give you some tips on caring for your mouth piece the proper and easy (yes- easy!) way.
How to Wash A Retainer
Rinse: The first thing you should do after removing your retainer is rinse it with warm or cool water. Use your fingers to gently remove any build-up.
Soak: To disinfect your retainer, submerge it in your favourite cleaning solution, a blend of water and baking soda, mouthwash, or mild dish soap. You can even clean it with white vinegar. To do so, fill a small dish with half white vinegar and half warm water. Make sure to soak your retainer for approximately five to fifteen minutes.
Scrub: This is, perhaps, the most important step. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush or denture brush, carefully scrub away plaque or other debris. Be thorough! Often times, it’s the smallest crevices where bacteria breeds. Feel free to use a cotton swab to help you get into the deepest grooves and ridges.
Re-Rinse: We recommend rinsing your retainer one more time to ensure that it’s truly rid of any soap or cleaning products before you put it back in your mouth.
Store It: When your retainer isn’t in your mouth, it should be stored in a glass of distilled water or in your protective retainer case like the RooTainer. Durable and secure, the RooTainer comes with a clip option, making it easy to attach to a waistband or backpack.
How Often Should You Clean Your Retainer?
Just like brushing your teeth, you should make it a habit to clean retainers every day. Yes, you read that correctly: Every. Single. Day!
Because it’s constantly in your mouth and resting against your teeth, it’s easy for bacteria, plaque, and tartar to accumulate. It’s actually a good idea to have a separate toothbrush for your retainer. That way you can easily bring it with you to work or school to clean it between meals.
We recommend cleaning your retainer as soon as you remove it from your mouth, while it’s still wet. This makes it easier to remove any biofilm before it hardens. If you notice stubborn debris on your retainer, be sure to take it to your dentist or orthodontist for assistance.
Helping your Kids with Retainer Hygiene
Just like you instill in your kids the habit of brushing their teeth everyday, it’s important to do the same with cleaning their retainer. Encourage them to make it part of their night time routine.
Depending on your child’s age, a reward system might prove useful, such as tracking your child’s retainer cleaning with a fun sticker chart for every day of the week. Every time they clean their retainer, they get a sticker. At the end of the week, reward them however you see fit.
Tips and Tricks for Better Care
Seeing that a retainer costs a fair bit of money, you don’t want to be making any costly mistakes. Let’s be real: there are far better ways to spend your hard-earned money than having to buy a replacement retainer!
Now that you know how to properly clean your retainer, let’s take a look at some things you shouldn’t do. We’ve also included some helpful tips and tricks for better care.
First off, avoid exposing your retainer to heat. This includes boiling water, microwaves, dishwashers, and washers and dryers.
You’re probably thinking, ‘but doesn’t boiling water sanitize?’ Well, you’re right, it does. But it will also warp the shape of your retainer, affecting the way it guides your teeth. To ensure that your retainer maintains its proper shape, avoid hot water!
Don’t forget to clean your retainer case. In fact, you should be cleaning your case regularly to remove any lingering bacteria and germs. To do so, simply scrub it clean with a mixture of warm water and soap, then rinse it off, and pat to dry. Another great thing about our RooTainer case is that it’s super easy to clean. If you or your kid are feeling too lazy to wash it by hand, simply put it on the top-rack of your dishwasher!
Finally, you might think using toothpaste to clean your retainer is a good idea since you use it to clean your teeth, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. The abrasive compounds found in toothpaste, while effective at scrubbing your enamel clean, are too harsh for your retainer and can damage the softer material.
The Bottom Line
We highly encourage you to take the time each day to properly clean your retainer. If you don’t, bacteria, plaque, and tartar from your mouth will build up over time. Soon, your retainer may start to smell or taste funny. Yuck!
Treat your retainer with the care it deserves and make it a habit to wash every day. Your mouth (and your orthodontist) will thank you!