If you use a retainer, you should already know how important it is to keep it clean. Bacteria can develop on the surface, which will put your oral health in jeopardy while also causing bad breath. Your orthodontist should have let you know how to clean the retainer, but some people still make mistakes while doing so. Here are four of the most common errors and why you should avoid them.
1. Using an Abrasive Toothbrush or Toothpaste
Ideally, you want to clean the retainer every day using your toothbrush. This will remove as much bacteria as possible before you put the retainer back in your mouth. However, you should make sure you use the right toothbrush and toothpaste. A soft-bristled brush must be chosen since repeated scrubbing with a hard-bristled brush can cause scratches; unfortunately, these grooves will just create more spaces in which bacteria can thrive. You should also make sure to avoid abrasive toothpastes. Most standard varieties are fine, but tartar control toothpaste commonly contains abrasive ingredients.
2. Using the Wrong Mouthwash
The vast majority of retainers are made using acrylic, which can be damaged by alcohol. Unfortunately, most mouthwashes contain alcohol. Alcohol also dries out your mouth, and this can also cause damage to the surface of the retainer. When you soak your retainer or use mouthwash generally, make sure you pick a product that is non-alcoholic. It's also a good idea to pick out a clear mouthwash to avoid any discolouration of the retainer.
3. Letting the Retainer Dry Out
When you take your retainer out of your mouth, you need to clean it right away, while it is still slightly wet from your saliva. It might not seem like a big deal to leave it overnight and then take care of cleaning in the morning, but this gives debris time to harden on the surface of your retainer. When this occurs, it becomes a lot harder to scrub that debris away, and you'll swiftly start to notice that the retainer is developing an unpleasant odour.
4. Using Regular Cleaners
Whatever you do, make sure you use cleaners that are specifically designed to cope with dental products. There are plenty of cleaning agents that have been designed around that job, so under no circumstances should you decide to use a regular cleaner to keep your retainer hygienic, even if you aren't putting it straight back in your mouth. Many such products contain irritants and harsh chemicals, such as bleach.