How to Disinfect Retainers?

June 3rd, 2021


Retainers are the final step proceeding orthodontic treatment. Whether they are made of plastic such as PVC/PMMA or are wire fabricated retainers, their purpose is to ensure that a person’s teeth do not shift back to their pre-treatment positions and prevent misalignment to occur post orthodontic treatment. To ensure effective and healthier results, the American Association Of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends keeping the retainers and oral cavity clean and rid of unwanted bacteria.

Proper Disinfecting Techniques

Maintaining a normal and effective hygienic routine is one of the best ways to ensure that bacteria such as plaque, does not build up around the gums and oral cavity. Depending on the type of retainer the patient chooses following their treatment, their AAO approved orthodontist will provide proper care instructions for that specific retainer. However, here are some of the most universal and proper cleansing techniques:

  1. Brushing With Fluoride Toothpaste- According to AAO and Colgate tartar and plaque are susceptible to build up around a person’s gums, to avoid build-up it is advised to brush at least twice a day with a fluoride-rich toothpaste to strengthen enamel and avoid extra buildup. If the patient has opted for removal retainers, they are advised to brush the retainers with toothpaste before putting them on or afterward.
  2. Those with permanent retainers are also advised to brush daily as well, however, if their retainers are not able to be removed, orthodontists recommend straying away from sugary beverages or liquids that may cause discoloration in the teeth, such as coffee, soda, or acidic liquids.

How To Avoid Unwanted Bacteria Buildup

While proper cleaning is the most effective way of avoiding unwanted bacteria build-up, not all bacteria will go away 100%. However there are many preventions and cautionary measure that can be used to prevent this type of build-up, The AAO recommends:

  • Always carrying a protective case for removal retainers which protect against uncleaned surfaces and reduce the probability of damage towards the retainer
  • Keeping retainers away from pets as they have their own sets of bacteria and may also damage the retainer itself
  • Avoid heat or placing retainers near heat as they can deform and lose effectiveness and also allow more bacteria to build-up
  • Smoking is strongly discouraged as it can cause retainers to fog up and contain unsanitary chemicals to remain in the oral cavity
  • Disinfecting with an effervescent cleanser is also recommended to get a more in-depth cleanse

Overall, the key to maintaining retainers disinfected is by keeping a maintainable and effective hygienic oral routine best suited to the patient and their treatment needs.