2 Truths and 1 Lie About Cleaning Your Permanent Retainers

I sometimes get patients in my dentist office asking about keeping their permanent retainers clean. But my honest answer is the same thing that I tell everyone else. Just keep brushing and flossing!

But I get it. I know that it can be difficult to floss with a permanent retainer. It’s still important, though. So all you need to do is use these tools to help you floss successfully.

TRUTH #1: Flossing Tools are your Friend

Floss Threaders are essentially needle threaders for your teeth. You put the floss string in the loop, and pull the other side of the floss threader through your teeth, underneath the permanent retainer. Once the floss is on both sides, you scrape the sides of your teeth as you normally would.

Super Floss is reinforced on one end so that it is easier to poke it through your teeth, under the retainer. After that, you continue to floss as usual.

Don’t let the frustration of trying to floss keep you from doing it. Use the tools and you’ll soon find that flossing is simple and easy…even if it does take a little more time each day. It’s worth it!

TRUTH #2: Dental Check Up Are Crucial

Of course, you should always come in to see me regularly. I can get your teeth cleaner than you can at home. I won’t let you down in your permanent retainer maintenance.

…and the LIE

Using Mouthwash is NOT the same as flossing.

Let me explain why.

Some people might think that mouthwash gets into all the crevices that flossing does but that’s not exactly true. The mouthwash does obviously reach the crevices, but flossing goes one step further.

The force applied when you floss actually scrapes away the plaque to expose more of the teeth than what was previously on the surface. Flossing creates more of a crevice. Mouthwash can’t do that.

And not only does mouthwash NOT clean the crevices between your teeth as well as floss does, but it also doesn’t clean the points of contact between teeth. In sliding the string of floss between your teeth, you are also scraping plaque trapped between your teeth. That’s something that mouthwash simply can’t do.

So when you are tempted to swish for thirty seconds instead of flossing, ESPECIALLY if you have a permanent retainer – opt for the string. You’ll thank me later.

Now, that’s not to say that mouthwash doesn’t have some benefits. Just don’t use it to replace any other part of your oral hygiene routine.

Taking care of your permanent retainer doesn’t have to be a difficult task. If you have more questions about your own retainer, please come see me!

~Dr. Wagner


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