By their teenage years, many children understand the importance of good oral hygiene and cleaning their teeth regularly. However, some may not know that their orthodontic retainers need similar cleansing to remove bacteria.
Recent research found that microscopic pathogens are present on at least 50 percent of retainers, according to a study that was published in the journal Letters in Applied Microbiology.
Since dental patients do not wear their retainers at all hours of the day, bacteria may grow on the devices and then be transferred to the individuals' mouths.
The investigators found that Candida microbes were present on more than 66 percent of retainers, while varieties of Staphylococcus, including MRSA, were present in 50 percent of the examined dental tools.
According to results, some participants who provided their retainers showed the presence of these microbes on their tongues and cheeks.
"With the growing awareness the public has of hospital-acquired infections it is important to be aware of other potential hidden reservoirs of harmful bacteria," lead researcher Jonathan Pratten said.
He suggests that individuals who wear retainers wash their hands before an after inserting or removing the devices. They may also be cleaned daily with a toothbrush and mouthwash.
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