If you have tried to put your retainer in and it doesn’t seem to fit properly or the physical appearance of it looks different it could be that you have unwittingly exposed it to excessive heat.
Retainers are not damage proof and exposing them to excessive heat sources can result in them becoming damaged, even partially softening and melting. The softening can cause the retainer to change in shape and affect the fit.
Causes of Melting
Hot or Boiled Water
Cleaning your retainer in boiled water is encouraged but you should not do it at a point where the water is excessively hot as it could soften the retainer.
To sterilize it boil water and simply wait for it to drop in temperature to lukewarm before cleaning your retainer.
Drinking hot drinks like coffee are not encouraged when wearing your retainer as they can seriously damage the item, even melt it. Always remove the retainer before drinking hot drinks and make sure you clean your teeth before putting it back in.
Direct Sunlight or Heat
Exposing your retainer to direct sunlight or heat can damage it. Leaving your retainer near any direct light or heat source may cause it to melt.
Even if you leave the retainer in its case and leave it inside a vehicle the temperature within can get very hot, particularly in the Summer, and still damage it.
Cleaning in a Dishwasher
While using a dishwasher may seem like a good idea to give your retainer a deep clean it is something that can cause it to be melted and misshaped.
It is best to stick with using lukewarm boiled water to clean it thus avoiding excessive heat.
An article posted on Healthline.com explains that exposing a retainer to high heat can warp and damage it. A retainer should be kept away from microwaves, dishwashers, washers and dryers, car dashboards, and boiling water.
How to Care for your Retainer
For your retainer to complete the job of looking after your teeth you will need to take care of them.
Always Remove a Retainer when you Eat or Drink
For retainers to do their job properly and ensure your teeth look the part, you must take them out whenever you eat or drink anything other than plain water.
Food particles may become stuck in the spaces of your retainers when you eat, which could cause unwanted bacteria growth thus leading to dental problems.
Not only that, but certain types of drinks such as soft drinks may also leave a residue that can cause staining if left on the retainer over time, while hot drinks can cause them to change shape or melt.
Related post: Can You Eat with Clear Aligners?
Clean it Every Day
By cleaning your retainer every day, you can remove any food particles, plaque, and bacteria that can accumulate on it and cause odors, discoloration, or irritation in your mouth.
Furthermore, regular cleaning helps prevent bad breath and cavities while minimizing the chances of having to replace it down the road.
Always Keep it in a Case
Keeping a retainer in its case is incredibly important to maintain the cleanliness and longevity of the device. Without its protective casing, retainers risk becoming easily dirty from food particles, bacteria, and other debris.
Additionally, leaving a retainer out of its case can cause it to dry out which can lead to cracking or even breaking.
Removing your retainer carelessly can cause numerous issues with your orthodontic treatment as well as with the health of your teeth. When you take out your retainer too quickly, it can result in pain and damage to both the retainer itself and your teeth.
In addition, if not handled properly, bacteria can accumulate on the retainer and put you at risk for infection. To avoid any potential accidents, always ensure that you use two hands when removing a retainer from your mouth so that you don’t accidentally use too much force.
Being careless with your retainers or testing them to see if they will melt in hot devices will result in them needing to be replaced at additional expense.
Treat your retainer with care, remembering to store it in its case at all times when it is not being worn and clean it properly too.
Be Careful – Do not Leave it in a Hot Car or in Direct Sunlight
Leaving a retainer exposed to the sun or in a hot car can cause the material of the retainer to warp and permanently distort its shape, making it far less effective at doing its job.
In addition, bacteria buildup can occur faster if the retainer is left in areas that are exposed to heat and humidity.
What to do if the Retainer Melts
If you are unlucky enough to have melted your retainer it will not be able to be used again and must be replaced.
It is not possible to reshape it yourself and even if you think it looks like you can you will very likely have damaged the internal structure of the retainer. Even small cracks and fractures in the retainer can be inviting for bacteria and cause problems in your dental hygiene if re-worn.
You should contact your dental practice to arrange a swift replacement so you do not affect your dental plan too much. Your dentist may recommend the use of invisible aligners as these offer the best comfort, are affordable, and offer efficient results.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Retainers Melt in Hot Water?
Yes, never use hot water on your retainer in drinking or cleaning.
Remove your retainer before drinking hot drinks and clean your teeth afterward before putting the retainer back in your mouth.
When cleaning your retainer use boiled water that has dropped to a lukewarm temperature.
Can Retainers be Fixed if they Melted?
No. Retainers that have melted would have been damaged beyond repair and should not be worn again. A replacement pair should be used or contact your dental practice for assistance in replacing it.