Retainer cleaning: cold or warm water? (Conflicting info)

If you have finished with your orthodontic treatment and are wearing retainers (or will be soon), this is a special place to connect with others in your (enviable) situation. Ask a question or make a comment about life post-braces.

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Retainer cleaning: cold or warm water? (Conflicting info)

#1 Post by cmh »

I'm getting conflicting information about whether to soak retainers in warm or cold water. Some sources (including instructions from a brand of retainer cleaning tablets) say warm, whereas others say cold, including the retainer care instructions paper my orthodontics practice gave to me today which says to not soak it in warm or hot water.

I ask because I accidentally soaked it in lukewarm (room temp or slightly above, like roughly 70°) water for a minute before reading that part on the paper. I then promptly removed and soaked in cold instead. The retainers still fit afterwards but I don't know if that means there wasn't any distortion. Any thoughts?

I also notice these retainers are noticeably flimsier than the ones my prior orthodontist gave me, although both supposedly essix. Does this make a difference regarding potential distortion?

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Re: Retainer cleaning: cold or warm water? (Conflicting info)

#2 Post by djspeece »

Considering body temperature is as you likely know 98.6 degrees F, I doubt that soaking them in tepid water (barely perceptible warmth) would do any damage, certainly not water that was 20 degrees cooler than body temperature. I suspect the most important variable is the instruction for the individual cleaning product. I'm guessing that the ortho is being super-cautious in recommending only cold water because at some point someone soaked their retainers in scalding water, and when they melted they probably told the ortho "Well, it was only warm water" in an attempt to get a free replacement. (My outlook on my fellow humans can be remarkably dim.) I have Vivera retainers, and clean them with toothpaste and occasionally soak them in warm water, probably about 110 degrees without an issue (have been debraced for over 5 years.) Best of luck to you.

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. -- Buddist saying

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Re: Retainer cleaning: cold or warm water? (Conflicting info)

#3 Post by Danielle »

Good question. I rarely give my retainers a full soak. Usually just rinse with cold water when I take them off and I wash them in cold water with Dawn dish washing liquid every night before I put them back on. I’ve been through several pairs, but most have an average lasting time of about 5 years. I wear them every night and tend to clench my teeth. So I chalk up their eventual cracking to that.
Metal Braces: August 18, 2006-January 14, 2009
Essix-type Retainers: January 14, 2009--present

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