A recent study has revealed some of the bacteria found on orthodontic retainers, worn after orthodontic treatment is completed, can be associated with the hospital superbug MRSA.
The research, carried out by the UCL Eastman Dental Institute in London , also found a further two thirds of retainers examined contained a type of yeast connected with fungal infections, with both types of organism found potentially harmful to the population.
According to the British Orthodontic Society, nearly one million people in the UK began orthodontic treatment last year, and with more adults than ever before wanting treatment, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, took the opportunity to encourage those who wear removeable braces or retainers to develop high standards of oral hygiene.
He says: ‘If you wear a removable appliance, it’s important you take the time and effort needed to keep your teeth and braces clean. If you have good oral hygiene while wearing a brace, this will help avoid developing problems such as dental decay, gum disease and tooth decalcification, and can often be the difference between a successful course of treatment or otherwise.
‘Removable appliances should be cleaned with a brush soak brush method of cleaning using an effervescent denture cleaner to help remove the bacteria and other organisms from the surface of the appliance. Simple things such as washing your hands before touching anything that can come into contact with your mouth can go a long way to reduce the risk of infection.’
Keeping to the Foundation’s three key messages, regardless of whether you have a fixed or removable brace, can go a long way to ensuring successful treatment.
Visiting your dentist, as often as they recommend, will help your dentist monitor how effective the brace is, and make any necessary adjustments.
Brushing for two minutes twice a day, using a fluoride toothpaste and paying special attention to each individual tooth and gum line around it can stop white spots on your teeth showing up after the brace is removed.
Cutting down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks will help reduce tooth decay and erosion. Using interdental brushes or floss threaders will help to remove trapped particles of food, particularly around fixed braces.
Living with a brace can, at first, alter the foods you consume. The Foundation’s own ‘Tell Me About’ leaflet range has a title devoted to the topic called ‘Living With My Brace’, which gives all the relevant information about a fixed or removable brace.
The title, and many more, are also available online. Simply visit www.dentalhealth.org/tellmeabout to find out more.