A study out of UCL Eastman Dental Institute found that insufficient cleaning of your retainer could lead to the growth of potentially pathogenic microbes.Samples from the mouths of people without retainers were compared to those wearing retainers. The study looked for microbes which are not normally found in the oral cavity, with particular interest in Candida (a type of yeast) and Staphylococcus (including MRSA). These researchers found that species of these microorganisms were present on 66.7% and 50% of retainers, respectively, regardless of the retainer type. These microbes were also present on the interior cheeks and tongue of retainer wearers.
Candida and Staphylococcus rarely cause problems in healthy individuals, but are potentially highly problematic in people with a compromised immune system. The bacteria on the retainers live in biofilms, which are communities of bacteria living together covered in a layer of slime. Once these biofilms form, they are very difficult to remove and often have high levels of resistance to antimicrobials.
The researchers advised that retainer hygiene is of the utmost importance in preventing transmission of these microbes. So don’t forget to wash your hands before and after handling your retainers, rinse them every time you remove them, brush them regularly and soak them occasionally in mouthwash or retainer cleaning solution.