Retain this Information to Ensure Your Retainer Does not Contribute to Angular Cheilitis

I remember the day that I had to get a retainer as I was still in a state of euphoria after my braces were removed. For some reason, I thought that I would not have to put any other obtrusive object into my mouth once I was free of the much-despised metal train tracks. Feelings of joviality soon gave way to a morose, somber mindset as I learned that a retainer would be taking residence. I should have argued with my mother that such retainers can be a breeding ground for germs (Mom was a germaphobe), and could actually contribute to conditions, such as angular cheilitis.

Now a retainer – angular cheilitis connection is not set in stone but perleche can more readily occur with ill-fitting and/or unclean retainers, similar to dentures whose fit and degree of cleanliness are suspect.

Consider a retainer that does suitably fit in your mouth. This happens much more frequently that one would anticipate. Shifting teeth are a constant concern and even retainers that initially fit can soon be bent of shape, so to speak. An ill-fitting retainer can affect the flow of saliva, perhaps increasing the amount left on the corners of the mouth, giving way to perleche.

You wouldn’t settle for clothes that don’t fit so don’t do so with retainers. In the presence of any discomfort or feeling that a retainer does not sit right, immediately plan a visit to the orthodontist.

While you have to be circumspect about a retainer’s size and shape, you also have to be fastidious about its purity, freshness, and cleanliness. Here is a sobering fact: Over 50% of retainers contain baneful microbes not normally found in the mouth. In a recent study, these microbes not only were present on the retainer, but migrated to the inner cheeks and tongues.

To compound problems, these microbes are difficult to remove. They live in tight-knit communities, covered by a biofilm covering, a thin layer of slime. Proliferating unchecked, they can impair the immune system, especially one that is already weak and compromised, producing a host of adverse reactions.

Of interest, the two primary types of microbes found in the mouths of many retainer-wearers include staphylococcus bacteria and candida fungus, both of which are indeed contected to angular cheilitis. A dirty retainer is much more likely to foment perleche than a spotless one.

Consequently, do your best to keep retainer-related germs at a minimum. Follow Mom’s advice and wash your hands before and after placing the retainer in your mouth. (Run hot water over the retainer before entering it in your mouth.) In addition, Wash the retainer case every week, if possible, keeping it on the top rack of your dishwasher. Also, use a separate tooth brush just for brushing the retainer, consistently replacing the toothbrushes. Yes, you heard right, you should brush your retainer!

Of course, follow the same good dental hygienic practices you’re used to following. Brush your teeth, at minimum, twice a day, and floss daily, too. Again, take tender loving care of that retainer, soaking it in a medicated cleansing solution or even mouthwash at least weekly. Oh, and by the way, do not just place it back in your mouth should it hit the ground. This kind of cavalier attitude can literally make you sick, and create conditions that are ripe for angular cheiltiis to occur.

Now just because you have a retainer does not mean that perleche will surface. But if it does not fit and is not kept in a pristine condition, angular cheilitis symptoms may more readily develop.