How to Clean White Deposits Off an Orthodontia Retainer
Bleah! Your kid's orthodontic retainers are scaling up with those unsightly white deposits, and it seems that no amount of toothbrush scrubbing will remove it. What can you do?
Firstly, it's helpful to know what those white deposit are. Like your teeth, orthodontic retainers can build up plaque and tartar. The white stuff is calcium left behind from saliva. If your child has been ultra-diligent about cleaning the retainer on a daily basis, the build-up should be minimal. However, if that were the case, you probably wouldn't be reading this article.
For example, take my son's retainers, which are a bit different than the run-of-the-mill kind in that they are designed to widen his palette and jaw. His devices have a little gear in the center that is turned once a week to spread the retainers. Theoretically, he is supposed to wear them 24/7, with the exception of meals. The reality is that he removes them at lunch during school, stores them in his lunchbox without rinsing, and then lets them fester there until after dinner, when he gives them a light rinse before returning them to his mouth. When I finally became aware of his habit—and got a close look at the retainers—I recoiled so fast I nearly got whiplash. You could have mined the calcium build-up; they were practically growing crystals!
No amount of soaking in Efferdent seemed to rid his retainers of those deposits. They were, however, nicely deodorized. What did I end up doing? Read on.
Being the organic, holistic, find-a-natural-way-to-do-things kind of mom that I am, I realized the solution to this calcium build-up lay in my kitchen cupboard in the form of distilled white vinegar. Here's what you can try:
- Add one part vinegar to three parts water in a cup.
- Drop in the offending orthodontia devices, letting them soak for 15 minutes.
Victory! In those short minutes, the calcium had softened to the point where I was able to scrape away the entire mass of disgusting white calculus with a dental tool. As a bonus, the vinegar acts as a disinfectant too.
Since this discovery, I make sure that my son soaks his retainers in the vinegar solution at least twice a week and that he thoroughly brushes them daily. We've not had a problem since.
A note on dentures: I wouldn't try the vinegar solution on dentures because the acidity of the vinegar may mar the finish on them. However, a denture brush works better on cleaning retainers than a regular toothbrush because the bristles are stiffer. Every little bit helps.