Not Cleaning Your Retainer Can Do More Damage Than You Think

It's easy to think the worst consequence of skipping a retainer cleaning may just be a slightly funky odor coming from the plastic, or a crusty saliva residue. However, failing to regularly wash our mouthpieces can result in health risks that aren't as immediately visible to the eye.

When wearing them consistently, retainers regularly come in contact with the natural bacteria found in our mouths (via Reddick Orthodontics). Some bacteria have the potential to damage our teeth by eroding away the enamel on the surface and promoting tooth decay. Additionally, a study conducted by the UCL Eastman Dental Institute discovered that disease-causing microbes were found growing on 50 percent of participant's retainers (via Science Daily). Without proper cleaning, these microbes can accumulate in our mouths as research proved when these bacteria were also found to be present on participant's tongues and cheeks. It's important to note that these germs do not generally cause significant harm, but can pose risks for those who are immunocompromised.

Regularly cleaning your retainer can prevent bacterial build up and tooth decay

In order to reduce risk, researchers conducting the study stressed the importance of washing one's hands both before and after usage and are working to continue to raise awareness around the importance of effective, hygienic cleaning techniques (via Science Daily).

Fortunately, there are many ways to help keep our retainers clean, most of which are quick and simple. Some recommendations from dental experts include regularly washing out your retainer case, keeping your retainer in a dry location, soaking retainers once a week with a cleaning tablet, and using a toothbrush and toothpaste to clean your retainer that is separate from the one used for routine brushing (via 1Dental). 

Keeping up with regular flossing, brushing, and rinsing are also ways to further strengthen our oral health. Retainers and other mouthpieces are an effective tool to help prevent the gradual shifting of teeth overtime and by keeping them clean, we can maintain confidence in both the appearance, and the health, of our smile.