Braces and Retainers: Care and Cleaning

If you wear braces or retainers then this represents an investment in your future – while you might have to go through a few months or years of having metal tracks, in the long run it will result in a healthier and more attractive smile.

However to achieve this, and to minimize problems while you have to wear them, it is very important to show them proper care and attention. This is particularly important for the very fact that braces are used in the mouth – which means that any bacteria can easily get into the body, and which means they will come into contact with more bacteria than they would if kept elsewhere – as a warm and moist place the mouth can be a hotbed of bacteria. Failure to clean and maintain your braces and retainers can result in tooth decay, halitosis (bad breath – which is caused simply by bacteria in the mouth) and gum disease. Alternatively if you cause damage to them you may cut your mouth or gums, or you may have to have them replaced which can be expensive. Here we will look at some ways to keep your braces and retainers clean and in good condition.

Be Careful What You Eat

When you have braces and retainers in it is important to be careful what you eat. This is because they can be quite fragile, and hard foods such as candy, apple or nuts can damage them by bending or breaking the wires. At the same time you should avoid anything too sticky or chewy which can get stuck in the braces or retainers and be hard to remove.


It is also important to chew your food well when eating, and to cut the food up well before you eat it. The smaller the pieces the less likely they are to get stuck in your teeth.


When you brush your teeth, brush your retainers or braces as well and try using fluoride and mouthwash as well. Some people find it easier to use an electric toothbrush with fixed orthodental devices, but avoid being too forceful. To get a more thorough clean on the braces/retainers themselves you might also want to use an interdental brush. These brushes are shaped like a Christmas tree and are designed for cleaning between braces – use these occasionally to clean the braces themselves.

Use Oral Irrigators

Oral irrigators are also very useful for cleaning the plaque and debris in and around braces and retainers, as well as away from the gums. This is a device that uses a stream of water and that way dislodges anything that’s stuck.


Flossing is something that you should always do on top of brushing, and this is no different when you have braces. Floss between the wires as well as beneath the braces.

Using a Saline Solution

If you have removable braces such as invisalign then this will allow you to clean underneath the braces to avoid build ups of plaque. However you need to be very careful when removing your braces and leaving them on a surface can cause them to pick up dirt and bacteria. Instead then keep them in a glass with a saline solution (salt water) to kill bacteria and keep them out of contact with other surfaces.

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