Keep Dental Retainers Bacteria Free

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011, 3:27 pm

Dental braces are a part of childhood for most children. The joyful day the braces come off is then followed by the parental nagging over wearing the retainers! Paying attention to keeping retainers clean is often forgotten.

The journal Letters In Applied Microbiology recently published some startling data about germs and orthodontic retainers. The study found microbes growing on over half of the retainers looked at by researchers and indicate the need for better patient education about the cleaning and maintenance of retainers and other oral appliances.

Because retainers are frequently removed from the mouth and then replaced, the potential for transmission of bacteria is high. The researchers found two species of microbes of particular interest; a type of yeast called Candida and Staphylococcus.

While these bacteria don’t usually cause health problems in healthy individuals they are dangerous for those with compromised immune systems. The bacteria on the retainers live in “biofilms”, which are communities of bacteria living together covered in a layer of slime. Once biofilms form on a surface they are very difficult to remove. Researchers are now trying to develop more effective methods of cleaning these oral appliances. Perhaps soon there will be products on the market especially aimed at this problem.

For now, the best advice is to practice good hygiene. Anyone handling the retainer or dental device should wash their hands before and after. Carefully brushing the device with a toothbrush and mouthwash may also help to keep the retainer clean. Remember to clean the retainer storage case as well to avoid cross-contamination, and remind your kids to put their retainers ONLY in the storage box, when they remove them. This can also avoid the all-too-common scenario of the napkin wrapped retainer accidentally going in the trash!

If you have questions regarding orthodontic treatment for your child, or yourself, please contact Wilbanks Smile Center at 706-886-9439. Second opinions are cheerfully given. A perfect smile may be closer than you think so call today.

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Category: oral health, orthodontics


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