A Dirty Retainer May Cause More Harm Than Good

The retention phase of your orthodontic treatment is critical. A retainer is the final step that ensures your teeth don’t shift back into their original position. When it comes to your retainer, you’ve probably been told one loud and clear rule: Wear Your Retainer!  This is important, as the appliance certainly can’t do its job if you don’t wear it like you’ve been instructed. However, there is another important rule about your retainer that you must not neglect – Clean Your Retainer!

If you get lazy and pop your retainer in and out without cleaning it on a daily basis, you’ll introduce germs and bacteria in your mouth that could threaten your oral health as well as your overall health. Just like your teeth, your retainers need to be diligently cleaned.

Are Your Retainers Clean or Dirty?

The truth is, you have bacteria living on your retainers right now. A retainer that is not cleaned on a daily basis, however, can harbor potentially dangerous microbes and other harmful bacteria. In fact, Candida is a common fungus that lives on retainers. Candida can start out as harmless, but can grow to cause a yeast infection in the body. Staphylococcus has also been found on orthodontic appliances, which can result in a serious staph infection.

Here’s the hard part; we’re talking about microscopic organisms. So you can’t see these harmful threats with your own eyes. Therefore, the only way to ensure your retainer is free of dangerous germs is to clean it every night and morning, depending on how much you wear it during the day. 

Ways To Clean Your Retainer

The good news is that you can still wear your retainer without compromising your immune system. It requires a few minutes each day to clean the appliance. Most patients opt to do this after they brush their teeth. You can effectively remove harmful germs and bacteria by cleaning your retainers one of the following ways:

  • Good old-fashioned scrubbing with toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Soaking in denture cleanser (Efferdent or Polident) or baking soda and water (equal parts). 

Another essential part of taking care of your retainer is storing it in a dry place. Never rinse your retainer and close it in the case for several hours, as this creates a moist, dark environment for bacteria to breed. In addition, avoid using hot water or dishwashers to clean your retainers. Lastly, don’t forget to clean your retainer case!

At Walton Orthodontics, we want to make sure your straight smile is retained nicely – but never at the cost of an infection or sickness caused by a dirty retainer. Do yourself a favor and make it a priority to wear your retainers as well as clean them on a daily basis.


Walton Orthodontics
2609 Peachtree Pkwy, #C
Suwanee, GA 30024
(770) 663-0955

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