Cleaning and caring for dental retainers helps maintain good orthodontic results. What should you take into account? We tell you in this space.
In the last stage of orthodontics – when the teeth have already been removed braces of the mouth—begins the retention period. Know how to clean and care for dental retainers It is essential for these accessories to fulfill their purpose without deteriorating.
Its use inside the mouth against the teeth promotes the accumulation of bacterial plaque on them. Likewise, when they are removed and stored outside the oral cavity, contact with the outside can dirty or damage them.
For this reason, special attention should be paid to the maintenance of these devices. Not treating them properly can lead to health problems. Sometimes it even leads to the failure of orthodontic treatment. What must be considered?
What are dental retainers?
After having worn braces for a long time, and having repositioned the teeth in their proper place, it is necessary to preserve these achievements in the smile. Therefore, the phase of treatment called “retention” or “containment” begins.
At this point, dental retainers are used. These are oral appliances that are placed in the mouth for a period of time. to maintain the bite achieved in the previous phase. Although the latter has been aligned with orthodontics, it can change over time. In fact, sometimes it goes back to the pre-treatment position.
The purpose of retainers is to help the muscles and tissues of the mouth adapt to the new tooth alignment. Thus, they prevent the teeth from moving in an unwanted way or returning to their original position.
Types of dental retainers
Before going into detail about how you should clean and care for dental retainers, you should know that There are two large groups of these devices, fixed and removable. Depending on this characteristic will be its maintenance. The orthodontist will be in charge of choosing which variety to use.
Fixed dental retainers
These appliances provide permanent support for the teeth and cannot be removed by the patient. I know place a wire that is fixed with resin to the back of the dental elements. For this reason, they are almost imperceptible.
In general, used from canine to canine to hold lower incisors in position or after diastema treatments. Also to maintain the place after an extraction, while waiting to place an implant.
The patient does not usually have any inconvenience in speaking or eating once he has become accustomed to its presence in the mouth. Even so, it is necessary to clean and take good care of this type of dental retainers, since they accumulate bacteria and food debris.
These retainers can be easily put on and taken off. Depending on the case, the orthodontist will indicate the hours of use. They are often worn all day for the first few months, then only at night.
They must be removed to eat and to clean your teeth. The success of the treatment depends on the patient using them consistently and responsibly, according to the dentist’s instructions.
There are several options. The most used are the following:
- Transparent splints: They are transparent plastic trays that are placed over the teeth. They are made for each patient and are aesthetic.
- metal retainers: they are an acrylic plate that rests on the palate, and metal arches and hooks that rest on the teeth. The most used are called “plates”. Hawley».
Ways to clean and care for dental retainers
As we already mentioned, the maintenance of dental retainers varies depending on the type of device. So that, The first step in caring for the attachment is recognizing what it is. Once this is done, it is worth applying the following tips.
How to take care of your fixed retainer?
The maintenance of this type of retainers attached to the teeth is part of the oral care routine, as this also favors oral health.
- It is essential to carry out an exhaustive dental brushing and use floss between the teeth to keep the device clean. In the wires and the material of adhesion to the tooth it is easy for bacteria and food debris to accumulate that must be removed.
- Tooth brushing should be done after every meal. To do this, you have to pass a soft bristle brush, combining circular and sweeping movements from the gum to the tooth.
- The movements must be precise and smooth to avoid damaging or detaching the device. The use of fluoride toothpastes is recommended for the prevention of cavities.
Flossing can be difficult at first, but with practice and consistency it is possible to master the technique. Sometimes cleaning the area between the teeth is made easier with the use of interdental brushes or irrigators.
If there are difficulties with dental hygiene, it is appropriate to ask the orthodontist for help. The professional It provides strategies and advice to maintain oral health and the device in optimal conditions.
How to care for removable dental retainers?
Both metallic dental retainers Hawley as the clear plastic splints can be removed from the mouth for daily cleaning. The ideal is to take a moment of the day to carry out a deep hygiene of the device.
Anyway, when removing it to eat it is also advisable to rinse it and brush it with warm water. In addition, it is necessary to brush your teeth after feeding, before putting the retainer back on.
- Its cleaning should be done as soon as it is removed from the mouth, while it is still wet. This prevents the residues present from hardening and making hygiene more tedious.
- At the time of deepest cleansing, it is recommended to use a soft toothbrush for this purpose (not the same one that is put in the mouth) or a special one to clean dentures. Hygiene is done by mixing warm water with neutral soap.
- The brush should be gently rubbed over the appliance to remove residue. Using a cotton swab can help to access deeper grooves and pits.
- Avoid using toothpaste to clean dental retainers.since its abrasive components can scratch its structure and take away its transparency.
Other recommendations to care for removable retainers
1. Be careful when removing them
Although the structure of the devices is rigid and resistant, care must be taken when removing and putting them on so as not to break them. It should be done with clean hands and with smooth movements. Likewise, it is convenient to alternate the place from which it is withdrawn so as not to always apply force on the same side.
2. Store retainers properly
When retainers are removed from the mouth for eating, or when they do not need to be worn, They must be kept in their rigid box. Being in their container they are less likely to have accidents, be taken away by pets or get lost.
However, its storage case needs to be cleaned at least once a day. For this, you have to rub all its walls with warm water and soap. Then rinse and dry well.
3. Cleaning with special solutions
From time to time, especially in the case of plastic splints, it is convenient to soak the appliance in denture cleansers. They are sold in pharmacies and are easy to use.
These are effervescent tablets that are mixed with warm water. The device is left submerged for the time indicated by the manufacturer so that the deepest impurities are eliminated. The action of the bubbles will clean it without damaging it.
According to a study, this method does not reduce more microorganisms than those that are eliminated with mechanical brushing. Despite this, It is useful for the reduction of bacteria of the type coconuts. It is recommended to use them every one or two weeks, and not for a long time. Otherwise, they can corrode parts that contain metal.
4. Avoid heat
The high temperatures they can modify the structure of the retainer, deform it and ruin it. For this reason, it is essential to keep it away from heat sources, such as the following:
- Very hot water or liquids.
- Stoves, kitchens and microwaves.
- Dishwashers, washers and dryers.
Of course, when cleaning, it should be done with lukewarm water – not very hot – to avoid damage.
5. Do not use chemicals
It is not necessary to use harsh cleaners to keep your retainers clean. The use of very abrasive substances can damage them, scratch their surface or remove shine and transparency.
Alcohol-containing toothpastes or mouthwashes should also not be used. These products end up deteriorating their materials. Other household products, such as vinegar or baking soda, are not entirely recommended.
6. Attend regular dental check-ups
Periodic check-ups with the orthodontist are crucial to ensure the proper functioning of the retainer. The professional, in addition to making sure that the occlusion has not been affected, will review the condition of the element.
Many times it is necessary to make a replacement of it. This may be because the material wears out or because the brace no longer fits tight enough. Appointments are usually suggested at 3, 6 and 12 months after orthodontics is completed. But if you notice that the retainer no longer fits or is very stained or deteriorated, it is advisable to go to the dentist immediately.
What happens if you don’t clean your retainer?
The oral cavity is constantly moist and in the presence of food and bacteria that are part of the oral environment. The mouth retainer, being part of this situation, can accumulate germs and residues.
For this reason, by not cleaning and caring for dental retainers properly, their deterioration is inevitable. The device will change color, have an unpleasant odor and a strange taste. What’s more, their structure can be damaged and they can stop fulfilling their function. Consequently, the success of orthodontic treatment is affected.
You should know that dental retainers can harbor dangerous bacteria, such as Streptococcus, lactobacillus Y Veillonella. Although many of these microorganisms are normally found in the mouth, if they accumulate too much they can cause illness.
can also develop Candida albicans. It is a harmful fungus present in the oral cavity, but if it accumulates in the device it causes an infection.
These germs do not pose much of a threat to people with a healthy immune system. However, for patients with compromised defenses they can pose a risk.
If you experience any redness, swelling, or other worrisome symptoms in your mouth while wearing dental retainers, It is pertinent to inform the doctor immediately.
After orthodontics, the teeth tend to return to their original position; the one they had before using the braces. Therefore, it is necessary to use dental retainers until the tissues stabilize.
Its use is essential so that the results obtained with orthodontic treatment are maintained over time. Given its importance, cleaning and caring for them responsibly ensures that they last as long as possible and perform their function correctly, without losing, breaking or deteriorating.
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