Why Using Your Orthodontic Retainer as a Whitening Tray is not a Good Idea

Dentist Blog

Orthodontic appliances come in many forms, such as ceramic braces, Invisalign, and the more traditional metal brace. Though they differ slightly in appearance and application, they all achieve the same results--the straightening of your teeth. However, a brace cannot cross over to another form of dentistry. They aren't designed for anything but straightening or moving teeth. The same applies to orthodontic retainers.

A retainer is designed specifically to ensure that newly straightened teeth do not relapse and return to their former pre-braces position. That's why, like braces, retainers are generally not used for other dentistry purposes, except maybe as substitute; albeit temporary, night guards. So, if you have considered using your orthodontic retainer as a whitening tray, you should be aware of the possible complications.

You Could Harm Your Gums

The main whitening ingredient of whitening gels is hydrogen peroxide. Under normal conditions, when using a whitening tray, this hydrogen peroxide gel is placed into the spaces provided within each tooth section of the tray. This added space, which is not present in orthodontic retainers such as those of the Essix variety, prevents the gel from spilling over the sides when the tray is placed over the teeth.

However, retainers do not come with this added space. Moreover, retainers are designed using a sturdier, less flexible plastic, and are designed to fit comfortably but tightly to ensure retention. Because of this, the gel will likely spill onto your gums when the retainer is placed over teeth, causing a chemical burn that turns gums white and can even lead to gum recession. Gums damaged in this way might not heal fully for 72 hours.

You'll be wasting Whitening Gel

As well as the risk to the health of your gums, you may well waste much of the whitening gel. That means if you continue to use your retainer, you may end up spending more on whitening gel than would otherwise be necessary.

Ask Your Dentist for Some Custom Whitening Trays

The safest option for your gums and wallet, is to inform your dentist of your plan to whiten your teeth. They can then design a set of custom trays that fit snugly over your teeth and provide the extra space necessary to prevent spillage.

You can of course purchase an over-the-counter whitening set but the trays are often ill-fitting and this might also lead to spillage issues.

If You Use Your Retainer to Whiten, Use Less Gel

You might have no choice for whatever reason, but to use your retainer as a whitening tray, though most dentists would advise against this. However, if you do use your retainer, place a much smaller amount of gel in the tray than normal. Yes, it will take longer to whiten your teeth this way but at least you won't run the risk of burning your gums or wasting whitening gel.

No matter what anyone else tells you about using retainers for other purposes, always check with your dentist before acting on their advice. Your oral health depends on it. 


23 August 2017

Fillings: Everything You Need to Know

Hi! Welcome to my blog! My name is Kerry, and this blog is focused on dental fillings. It looks at the history of fillings, options for contemporary fillings, how to protect your fillings, when to replace them and much more. If you have ever had a cavity filled or if you are planning to get a tooth filled, you will find the information in this blog useful. I try to look at fillings from all angles, and I even plan to look at how to avoid fillings through proper dental hygiene and sealants. Thanks for reading, and I hope you find the info intellectually "filling."