Everyone knows that taking care of oral hygiene is important. But did you know that you need to clean your retainers separately as well? It doesn’t matter if you wear regular ones or invisible braces — it is essential to know the proper maintenance.
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In the following lines, we will take a look at some of the things you need to know about cleaning, when to visit your Invisalign dentist, and everything else you need to know about taking care of your retainers.
Do You Need to Clean It?
Starting from the beginning, the first question to answer is whether retainers need cleaning. And the answer is yes. Wearing a retainer means that it will constantly get in contact with food, and as a result, it will accelerate the accumulation of bacteria and forming of tartar and plaque. That means that you will need to clean the retainer the same way you need to brush your teeth.
The idea behind retainer is simple — it is there to help your teeth stay in place after any type of treatment or surgery that realigns them. Regardless of if you wear removable retainers or not, you will need to clean them properly if you want to avoid any type of health problems.
Before we go into all the details about cleaning, we should mention that there are several different types of retainers. The reason why this is so important is that the type of retainers will dictate the cleaning method.
There are three most common types of retainers:
- Hawley retainer
The first type of retainers, or Hawley, is the most common. These are made of a combination of metal and plastic, and they are designed to hold teeth in place and nothing more. The metal part of the device is the wire that goes around six anterior teeth to help them stay in the same position. Since this type is removable, you can clean it using several different methods, which we will cover in a bit.
Plastic or clear aligners are known by many other names like Vivera, invisible aligners, or Essix, and they are made of clear plastic. These retainers go over your teeth, and they are difficult to spot due to their transparency. However, the durability is a lot lower compared to Hawley. Finally, we have fixed retainers that can’t be removed, and they are used in cases when there is a high chance of tooth shift.
Why Is It So Important?
As we mentioned, food particles can get stuck in the retainer, and you would need to ensure that the device is clean. The logic is identical to why we need to brush our teeth. Bacteria, tartar, and plaque can appear on the retainer as well, and it is essential to remove them. This is one of the main problems with these devices since users often forget that they need to be cleaned frequently.
Not cleaning the retainer would be identical to putting bacteria on your gums and teeth, which is why you need to know a proper way to clean the device. Fortunately, the process is not complex, and there are different methods based on the type of retainer you own.
How to Clean Retainers?
Firstly, we will take a look at the simpler versions of retainers, which are plastic ones and Hawley devices. The number one advice is to clean the retainer after each meal, and you can brush your teeth while you’re at it.
The first thing you need to do is to remove the retainer and brush it using lukewarm water. If you plan on using a toothbrush, be sure to use a soft one to avoid damaging the surface of the retainer. Furthermore, if you are interested in deep cleaning, you can always try using a mild soap. The reason why you should avoid toothpaste is that it can be abrasive and cause scratches on the device.
You can also use cotton swabs if there are places that are hard to reach using other methods. Also, you can always talk to your dentist and see if there is anything else you could do. They might recommend soaking your retainer in a cleaning solution or something that will allow you to clean it with ease. If you were wondering how to clean an Invisalign retainer, you should know that it falls in the first category of removable devices.
As for the third type of retainers (i.e., fixed ones), removing them is not an option. You will need to brush and floss since it is the only way to clean it properly. You will need to repeat the process for each tooth that’s attached to the device. The process is similar to what you would do to clean braces.
It is worth mentioning that some people often use white vinegar mixed with water since it can remove mineral deposits and calcium. But be sure to talk to your dentist before you try anything on your own.
What to Avoid?
Knowing how to clean Invisalign, other types of clear braces, and retainers is just one part of the answer. You also need to know what to avoid doing while cleaning your aligners. The first thing on the list is to avoid using hard toothbrushes and toothpaste. Using something abrasive can damage the surface, which can be a fertile location for bacteria.
You should also avoid any type of heat. This includes hot water, boiling water, dishwashers, microwaves, or anything else that could expose your retainer to high temperatures. Moreover, it is smart to avoid using any type of chemicals. There is no reason for you to use harsh cleaners since warm water or denture cleaners will be more than enough.
We should also mention that storing the device is also important. You won’t achieve a lot if you clean the retainer properly, only to throw it in a dirty case. So, be sure that the storage is properly cleaned as well. Finally, if the device is too damaged or dirty, getting a new one might be the smartest option.