How to Care For Your Retainer: Flu season

It’s that time of year again when you’re wondering if you and your family got the flu shot. Before you find the answer, one of you starts coughing. And it’s almost always when you really, really don’t want to call out of work, or there’s a big presentation for school. Your mind is so preoccupied that you almost forget you or your family are an orthodontic patient until the retainers come out to brush the teeth.

Now all you can think about is, “How do we care for our retainer this flu season?” Adult & Pediatrics Orthodontics is here to remove any uncertainty for you! Being sick is inconvenient and stressful, but being a sick orthodontic patient doesn’t have to be. Let’s take a look at some things you can do with your retainer to avoid the flu or heal more quickly.

Wash Your Hands and Your Protective Case! 

Whether you have the Hawley or the Essix, retainers must be removed for eating or drinking anything other than water and performing your oral hygiene routine. They could also be removed for special occasions, like prom or wedding photographs. 

Before you reach your fingers into your mouth to remove them, wash your hands! Hands collect all kinds of germs throughout the day that can make you sick. To stop their spread, wash your hands with soap and clean, running water for twenty seconds. 

Hand sanitizer is the next best thing to disinfect if soap and water aren’t available. If your hands are visibly dirty or greasy after using hand sanitizer, wait to remove the retainer if you can.

After you remove the retainers, you should place them in their protective case. Not only does the case safeguard them from physical harm, but it also shields them from germs! Once a week, you should clean the protective case to keep it smelling fresh and remove any germs that can make you sick. Clean your case with dish soap and a sponge, then allow it to dry completely before putting your retainers in it.

Clean Your Retainer…

Retainers need to be cleaned when you brush your teeth twice a day. How to clean them depends on the kind of retainer you have, but the process is very similar. In fact, only the cleaning solution changes. 

How To Clean Removable Retainers:

  1. Run the retainers under lukewarm water. Extreme temperatures can warp the material, so check the water before you get your retainer wet.
  2. Apply the cleaning solution.
    1. Hawley retainer can use a nonabrasive toothpaste without whitening products or unscented antibacterial soap. 
    2. Essix retainers need to use unscented antibacterial soap. The toothpaste is likely to scratch or damage the material, making them more visible and uncomfortable to wear.
  3. Gently scrub with a soft-bristled, manual toothbrush. It should be separate from the one you use to brush your teeth.
  4. Rinse the retainer entirely of any soap or toothpaste.
  5. Allow to dry completely before wearing.

These simple routines only take a few minutes and rid the appliance of bacteria and germs that can cause tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath — and the flu! Be sure you are cleaning your retainers every morning and night.

…Then Clean It Again! 

During the flu season, you should clean your retainers more frequently, especially if you are removing them in public and not putting them in their cases.

We’ve already discussed how to clean your retainer, but did you know there are other ways to clean them that provide a deeper, disinfecting clean? Before we dive into these options, we want to remind you to ask Dr. Yu before applying any products to your orthodontic appliances. Every retainer manufacturer uses different materials, and what might be safe for one retainer might not be safe for another.

  • Retainer Brite – This soaking solution is made specifically for retainers. Make sure to follow the instructions it comes with, but don’t let them soak longer than fifteen minutes.
  • Invisalign Cleaning Crystals – Made by Invisalign, for Invisalign. Follow instructions carefully.
  • Denture solutions – This is a good option if you need a deeper clean but cannot find anything else. It should not be your regular choice, as it can turn retainers yellow. Again, make sure to follow the instructions it comes with, but don’t let your retainers soak longer than fifteen minutes.
  • Baking soda and water mix – A natural disinfectant. To make, combine half water and half baking soda in a bowl and then mix until it’s thick enough to be a paste. Then apply to the retainers and use a soft-bristled too brush to scrub. Rinse thoroughly.
  • White vinegar and water – Another natural disinfectant, but it can also remove visible spots. To use, submerge your retainer in a mix of white vinegar and warm water for twenty minutes. Then, remove the retainer and gently scrub it with the soft-bristled toothbrush to remove visible spots. Rinse, then soak for another twenty minutes. Rinse thoroughly.

How to Care For Your Retainer: Flu seasonNeed More Tips for Flu Season?

Curious to know if a cleaning solution is safe for your retainers or want more information about how to stay safe this flu season as an orthodontic patient?Dr. Yu and her fantastic team are dedicated to providing outstanding care, welcoming customer service, and up-to-date information. Please contact us for answers to your questions, personalized guidance, or to book an appointment at one of our two convenient locations! We look forward to hearing from you!