FRIDAY, March 18 (HealthDay News) -- Orthodontic retainers,
removable devices used to keep teeth straight, can develop a
build-up of potentially harmful microbes if they aren't properly
cleaned, finds a new study.
Researchers at the UCL Eastman Dental Institute checked the
retainers of a group of study participants and found that about 67
percent had a type of yeast called
Candida that can cause fungal infections, while 50 percent
Staphylococcus bacteria, including methicillin-resistant
Staphylococcus rarely cause problems in healthy people but
can pose a serious threat to people with weakened immune systems,
noted study author Jonathan Pratten and colleagues.
Further investigation revealed that the bacteria on retainers
live in biofilms, which are communities of bacteria living together
in a layer of slime. These biofilms can be difficult to remove and
tend to be highly resistant to antimicrobial agents.
The findings, published online March 14 in the journal
Letters in Applied Microbiology, suggest the need for improved cleaning products for orthodontic retainers.
The researchers said anyone handling a retainer should wash
their hands before and after use. Careful tooth brushing and the
use of mouthwash may also help keep the retainer clean.
"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 which could be introduced to environments where we know they can cause problems," Pratten stated in a journal news release.
The Nemours Foundation has more about