You’ve finally done it! The braces are gone and now you can get back to having a mouth full of worries, right? Well, you’re partially right. In the months following the removal of your braces or Invisalign, your dentist will give you a retainer–a device that keeps your teeth in place so they don’t shift around and ruin all the progress that your teeth have gone through over the years.


Like anything else though, it’s important to keep your retainer in good health so it can do its job properly and not cause any problems. While you may think that a simple rinse every once and awhile will do the trick to keep it fresh, there is a bit more work that goes into maintaining and cleaning your retainer than you may realize.


Many chemicals and cleaning agents will actually damage your retainer such as bleach and alcohol. Considering that many retainers are made of plastic, bleach will degrade the material, and boiling it in hot water will cause the retainer to lose its shape and warp. Toothpaste may seem like an obvious option, but toothpaste contains abrasives inside that are meant to remove stains and plaque from your teeth, and therefore will damage the fragile material of your retainer, creating nooks and crannies that bacteria can hide and multiply in.


The only tools that you will need to clean your retainer are a soft-bristled toothbrush and liquid soap. Special cleaning agents like those made for dentures are also available, but are much more expensive and liquid soap will get the same job done for a cheaper price.


Using clean hands, cradle your retainer in one hand while brushing it gently with the toothbrush in the other hand. Work the soap into a lather and scrub all the surfaces before rinsing it completely. The last thing you want is a soapy aftertaste on your tongue when you reinsert your retainer. Wash the case that your retainer goes in when you are not wearing it as well as bacteria can linger inside and render your cleaning useless.


Speak to your dentist for proper cleaning techniques if you have any questions about alternative cleaning products. Remember, a clean smile is a happy smile. Contact us today to schedule your next cleaning appointment if you have not already done so this year.