After completing braces or clear aligner treatment, it’s important to maintain your new smile. Retainers are essential for this purpose as they prevent your teeth from shifting back to their original positions. In this article, we’ll explore the different types of retainers available, the importance of regularly cleaning them to avoid problems, and effective cleaning methods using denture tablets, Fizzy 3-in-1 foam cleaner, and ultrasonic cleaners. By following these tips, you can keep your retainers fresh and hygienic, ensuring a confident and long-lasting smile.
After completing orthodontic treatment and having your braces or clear aligners removed, there’s a chance your teeth may gradually shift back to their original positions over time, undoing the progress you achieved during treatment. But don’t worry! This is where retainers play a crucial role. Wearing a retainer is incredibly important for maintaining the results of your orthodontic treatment, as it prevents any undesirable shifting and keeps your teeth in their newly aligned positions.
There are three main types of retainers available:
Permanent Retainers: These retainers are not removable and consist of a wire bonded to the back of your teeth. They are durable and hidden from view, which is a great advantage. However, some people might find them slightly less comfortable compared to other types of retainers. To keep them clean and prevent tartar and plaque buildup, regular brushing and flossing are essential.
Clear Plastic Retainers: Retainers like Essix, Vivera, and Zendura are thin, clear, and almost invisible. They fit over your teeth like a shell and are as comfortable as clear aligners. However, it’s crucial to be diligent with cleaning them, as they can accumulate bacteria and plaque if not cleaned regularly.
Hawley Retainers: These are the most traditional type of retainers. They consist of an acrylic piece that sits in the roof or floor of your mouth, with a wire running across the front of your teeth. Hawley retainers are durable and relatively affordable. You can clean them using a toothbrush and toothpaste. However, some people may find them less comfortable, and they have a visible metal wire.
If you don’t clean your retainer regularly, it can lead to various problems:
- Bacterial Buildup and Plaque: Not cleaning your retainer allows bacteria to grow and plaque to form on its surface, causing bad breath, infections, cavities, and gum disease.
- Biofilm Development: Retainers can collect bacteria, forming a biofilm that contributes to bad breath, tooth decay, and gum issues. Regular cleaning prevents this buildup and keeps your mouth healthier during treatment.
- Persistent Bad Breath: A dirty retainer transfers bacteria to your mouth, resulting in persistent bad breath or halitosis.
- Retainer Deterioration: Neglecting cleaning can lead to bacteria and plaque accumulation, damaging the retainer over time. Regular cleaning is crucial to preserve its lifespan and avoid early replacement.
- Staining and Discoloration: Certain foods and habits can stain the retainer’s surface. Without regular cleaning, these stains become stubborn and affect the retainer’s appearance.
- Increased Risk of Infections: Unclean retainers contribute to oral infections, especially gum problems. Bacteria and plaque can lead to inflammation and gum disease, affecting your overall oral health.
- Spread of Harmful Germs: Wearing a dirty retainer reintroduces harmful bacteria into your mouth, leading to various oral health issues. The retainer acts as a vehicle for germs, spreading infections or worsening existing dental problems.
There are various methods you can use to clean your retainer, but some are better than others. Let’s break them down:
You can use denture cleaner tablets or solutions to clean your retainers. To clean your retainers with denture cleaner tablets, fill a container with warm water, drop a tablet in, and let it fizz. Submerge the retainers and soak for 15-30 minutes. Rinse them
thoroughly after soaking to remove residue.
Denture tablets offer effective cleaning for retainers and aligners, keeping them fresh and hygienic. They are convenient and widely available at an affordable price. These tablets are gentle on the appliances, preventing damage. However, some users may dislike the chemical odor or taste. The soaking time can take 15-30 minutes, and extra rinsing may be needed to remove residue. Not all appliances may be suitable for this method. Overall, denture tablets remain a popular and practical choice for maintaining oral appliance cleanliness.
One of the best things about Fizzy retainer cleaner is its gentle formula. It’s completely free of alcohol, parabens, fluoride, hydrogen peroxide, and artificial colors, making it ideal for individuals with sensitive gums.
With this foam cleaner, you don’t need to soak your retainers with water. Just pump some foam onto your retainer, let it sit for a few minutes, and rinse it off with water. For a deeper clean, use a soft bristle brush to gently clean every detail and corner.
Fizzy retainer cleaner also doubles as a mouthwash and breath freshener, offering you added convenience in your oral care routine. You can even use it as a foam toothpaste for those times when you’re on the go and need a quick refresh.
Traveling with Fizzy retainer cleaner is a breeze. It’s TSA compliant and designed to be travel-friendly, ensuring you can keep your retainers clean and fresh even when you’re away from home.
Using an ultrasonic retainer cleaner to clean your retainers is easy and effective. Here’s how to do it:
- Fill the tank: Add water to the ultrasonic cleaner’s tank as per the instructions, being careful not to overfill it.
- Add cleaning solution (optional): If your ultrasonic cleaner comes with a special cleaning solution, add the recommended amount to the water in the tank. This solution enhances cleaning, tackling stubborn stains and bacteria.
- Place the retainer in the tank: Submerge your retainer fully in the water-filled tank. Depending on the tank size, you can clean multiple retainers at once.
- Turn on the cleaner: Following the instructions, switch on the ultrasonic cleaner. It generates tiny vibrations in the water, creating bubbles that gently clean the retainer.
- Wait for the cleaning cycle: Allow the cleaner to run for the recommended cleaning time, typically a few minutes, but it may vary based on the specific ultrasonic cleaner model.
- Rinse the retainer: After the cleaning cycle, take out the retainer and rinse it thoroughly under running water to remove any residue or cleaning solution.
- Dry and store the retainer: Pat the retainer dry with a soft towel and place it in its designated case to keep it clean until its next use.
Using an ultrasonic cleaner for retainers has pros and cons. It offers exceptional cleaning power, removing dirt and bacteria effectively. It’s quick, convenient, and gentle on the retainers. However, it can be expensive, and not travel friendly at all. Plus, not all retainers may be suitable for this method. Proper consideration and adherence to guidelines are necessary for safe and effective use.
Hydrogen peroxide can be used to clean retainers, but you need to be careful and follow some important guidelines:
- Dilute Properly: Before using hydrogen peroxide to clean your aligners, mix it with water. A common recommendation is one part hydrogen peroxide with three parts water. This reduces its strength and lowers the risk of any potential problems.
- Limit Exposure Time: Don’t let your aligners sit in hydrogen peroxide for too long. Extended exposure can weaken or damage the aligner material. Usually, a short soak or rinse is enough for cleaning. Always follow the time recommended by your orthodontist.
- Rinse Thoroughly: After cleaning with hydrogen peroxide, rinse your aligners well with water. This ensures that no leftover hydrogen peroxide remains on them before you put them back in your mouth.
- Avoid Overuse: While hydrogen peroxide can help remove bacteria and stains, don’t use it too often. Using it too much can make the aligners brittle or degrade over time.
- Cracks or damage: If you see cracks or damage, it may not hold your teeth properly, leading to shifting teeth and potential oral issues.
- Wear and tear: Over time, the retainer’s material can wear down, losing its shape and effectiveness.
- Too tight: If it feels too tight, your teeth might have shifted, and it could cause discomfort.
- Too loose: A loose retainer might not keep your teeth aligned correctly, and it’s best to get it checked by your orthodontist.
- Foul odor or taste: A bad smell or taste indicates a buildup of bacteria or plaque, requiring replacement.
- Discoloration: Yellowing or discoloration can weaken the material and may suggest bacterial buildup. Replace it if needed to maintain proper oral health.
Retainers play a crucial role in maintaining the results of orthodontic treatment. They prevent teeth from shifting back to their original positions. The three main types of retainers – permanent, clear plastic, and Hawley retainers – cater to various preferences and medical situation. Retainers must be cleaned regularly to avoid potential problems such as bacterial buildup, bad breath, deterioration, and increased risk of infections. Different cleaning methods, including denture tablets, Fizzy 3-in-1 foam cleaner, and ultrasonic cleaners, offer effective solutions for maintaining fresh and hygienic retainers. Find the best way to keep your retainers clean!