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Retainers may harbor dangerous microbes.

Orthodontic retainers that are not properly cleaned could be harboring microbes, according to a study published March 15 in Letters in Applied Microbiology.

Researchers at the University College London Eastman Dental Institute found potentially pathogenic microbes growing on at least 50 percent of retainers studied. The study was based on samples taken from the mouths of people without retainers and those wearing either of the two most widely used types.

Species of candida, a type of yeast, and the bacteria Staphylococcus were present on almost 67 percent and 50 percent of retainers, respectively. The microbes also were detected on the interior cheeks and tongue of retainer wearers.

While the two types of microbes rarely cause problems in healthy individuals, they are potentially dangerous in people with compromised immune systems.

"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," said study lead author Jonathan Pratten, PhD, senior lecturer at the Eastman Dental Institute.
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Title Annotation:HEALTH FINDINGS: The latest public health studies and research
Author:Currie, Donya
Publication:The Nation's Health
Date:May 1, 2011
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