It's cold and flu season again — and if you're like most people, you're probably going to deal with being sick at some point this winter.
But did you know that people who use oral retainers are generally more susceptible to getting sick? This is because retainers and aligners are a breeding ground for bacteria. However, you can drastically reduce your risk of getting sick from your retainer by adopting consistent, efficient cleaning habits. Or if you are sick already, we’ll show you how to clean your retainer properly to lower your chance of getting sick again.
Why Is Cleaning a Retainer So Important?
Since retainers stay in your mouth, they become breeding grounds for any bacteria that's transferred from your saliva to the retainers. So, bacteria and viruses from any sickness you may be experiencing will show up there by default. If your retainer is not properly cleaned, those bugs can multiply and turn your retainer into a cesspool. The fact that retainers are also moist, warm spaces makes them ideal for housing strep.
Fortunately, there are several ways to clean retainers even after having strep throat.
How You Should Deep Clean Your Retainer
If you're like most people and don't want to spend the money to have your retainer professionally cleaned by your orthodontist, your best option is a cleaning solution designed specifically for retainers and aligners. One such solution is our WhiteFoam, which kills over 99.99 percent of unwanted oral bacteria on your retainer or aligners.
Here's how to deep clean your aligner during and after being sick:
Step 1: Make sure you remove as much residue from your retainers as possible by softly brushing and rinsing them under warm water.
Step 2: Apply a layer of WhiteFoam to the inside of your top and bottom retainers.
Step 3: Spread the solution evenly over the retainers and let it soak in for 5 minutes.
Step 4: Put the retainers on your teeth and spit out any excess solution.
Do this two times a day, preferably after meals. You can let it soak while you eat. After you are officially feeling better from your cold or flu, you can just spread the WhiteFoam on your retainer and wear it right away without waiting the 5 minutes.
What Doesn't Work
Here are a few common practices that aren't effective for fully cleaning your retainer or aligner after strep throat or another illness.
Brushing and rinsing: While brushing and rinsing your retainer may be part of your normal cleaning routine, it's not enough when it comes to unwanted bacteria like those that cause strep throat. When you wear your retainers during a period of sickness, they need to be thoroughly cleaned— and a quick brush and rinse doesn't cut it.
Boiling it in water: Disinfecting something by boiling it in water is usually a good idea — except when it comes to plastic. For sanitizing aligners like Candid Co., Smile Direct Club or Invisalign, this is definitely a no-go. While boiling kills germs, the heat from the water also weakens and even melts the materials from which many types of aligners and retainers are made.
Putting it in the dishwasher: Putting your retainers in the dishwasher not only exposes them to high heat, but they are also easily misshapen during the dishwashing process — so it's best to let the dishwasher handle dishes only.
While there are many retainer, aligner and mouthguard cleaners on the market, not all of them are powerful enough to kill unwanted bacteria while also whitening your teeth in one on-the-go product like our EverSmile's WhiteFoam for aligners and retainers. If you play sports, check out our antibacterial sport guard cleaning spray SportsFresh!
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