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Tips for Caring for Your Orthodontic Retainer

So you just started wearing a retainer and you want to know how to care for it the best way. You can read lengthy articles on this subject, but always start with the knowledge that since your retainer is inside your mouth, it is prone to bacterial buildup.

The following are basic ways to keep your retainer clean, fresh, and bacteria-free:

Stay away from high heat.

It’s probably obvious, but your retainer can actually warp when exposed to high heat, which is why you should only wash it in lukewarm water. That said, you should also keep it away from microwaves, your car’s dashboard, and the like.

Forget chemicals.

Great if you want your retainer to be squeaky clean, but if you think chemicals are the only way to do it, nah. Truth is, studies have shown that cleaning retainers with chemical tablets gives just about the same cleaning results as ordinary brushing. The tablets were found to be effective against cocci bacteria nonetheless, specially those which are associated with sore throat and tonsilitis.

Have a soak schedule.

If you want to use chemical tablets for your Hawley retainer, remember not to soak it for too long or the metal components could corrode. Instead, soak it only for the time it takes to clean it or according to the tablet manufacturer. A quick mouthwash soak also helps to freshen the smell and kill some germs. Don’t forget to mix equal parts of mouthwash and lukewarm water. Also, alcohol can be damaging to plastic, so if your mouthwash lists it as an ingredient, only soak your retainer occasionally.

Clean your retainer’s case.

It’s as important to clean your retainer’s case as it is to clean your retainer. You have to do it at least once everyday before putting your retainer away for the night. Be sure to scrub all surfaces using warm a warm soap-and-water solution before rinsing off and patting to dry.

Be careful.

The last thing you want is seeing your pet chewing or choking on your retainer, so make sure it’s in a safe spot. Also, be careful where you put your retainer down before a meal. If you put it on a napkin, you might forget about it or unknowingly throw it away.

Get a new one when necessary.

Finally, keep in mind that retainers are no different from your footwear – after a while, you’re going to have to replace them as they give in to daily wear. For example, you will typically need to replace your Essix retainer every six months to a few years as the plastic wears out. A Hawley retainer, on the other hand, can last a maximum of ten years as long as it is well-maintained.

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