Cleaning a retainer: 8 effective guidelines

cleaning a retainer

The majority of people would never go days without cleaning their teeth. Many retainer wearers, on the other hand, go for lengthy periods of time without cleaning their devices.

Bacteria that grows on teeth can also develop on a retainer. As a consequence, wearing a dirty retainer is like placing a bacteria- and plaque-laden solution on your teeth and gums.

There are a few basic ways provided here that can aid people who don’t know how to clean retainers. If a person has concerns regarding the hygiene of their retainer, they should always consult their dentist or orthodontist first.


cleaning a retainer
Brushing the retainer with a soft-bristled toothbrush is recommended, and it should be removed and washed afterward.

Here are eight techniques to help people keep their retainers clean and bacteria-free.

1. Water for cleaning on the go

While water alone will not clean a retainer, drinking sufficient of water throughout the day can help to avoid bacteria development. Preventing harm to a retainer is as simple as keeping it wet. A dry mouth, which is connected to tooth decay, is also combated by water.

If a retainer seems unclean, a person can swirl some water around in their mouth a few times to clean it.

Soda and other sugary drinks may harm a retainer in the same way that they harm teeth. Before drinking a sweet beverage or eating anything, people should remove their retainer.

Retainers that have dried out are more vulnerable to breakage. As a result, no one should let this happen, especially not overnight. When removing a retainer, soak it in pure water instead.

If there isn’t anything else to put the retainer in, or if it’s unclean and can’t be cleaned immediately away, a person can soak it in a moist paper towel until it can be cleaned.

2. Toothpaste

People should wash their retainers as well as their teeth when brushing their teeth. A soft-bristled toothbrush and non-whitening toothpaste are recommended. After that, take out the retainer and properly rinse it.

After removing the retainer, people should brush their teeth again to clean any areas that were covered by it.

3. Denture cleaner

It’s okay to clean a retainer with denture cleanser every now and again, especially if you don’t have any other options. Denture cleanser, on the other hand, can color a retainer yellow over time.

People should rinse their retainers before soaking them in denture cleanser for around 20 minutes. They should then gently clean it with a gentle toothbrush after removing it.

If the retainer still tastes like denture cleaning after rinsing, keep washing until it doesn’t.

4. Baking soda

Baking soda
Baking soda may be used as a disinfectant to kill germs while causing no damage to the mouth.

Baking soda is an all-purpose disinfectant that is both safe and effective. It may also aid in the whitening of yellowed retainers. Baking soda kills bacteria without using harsh chemicals, and it helps keep a retainer from causing harmful pH imbalances in the mouth.

People should make a paste using half water and half baking soda to utilize baking soda. The consistency of the slurry should be thick enough to adhere to the retainer.

The retainer may then be carefully scrubbed with the liquid and a soft toothbrush, exactly like toothpaste. Residue should be removed by properly washing the retainer.

5. Vinegar

White vinegar is a mild disinfectant that may be used to get rid of smells and residues.

People should make a combination of half white vinegar and half warm water in a small dish to clean a retainer with vinegar. After that, immerse the retainer in the mixture for 20 minutes.

A gentle toothbrush can be used to scrape the retainer clean if it is coated in a film or mineral deposits. It should be immersed for another 20 minutes after being washed with cold water.

Because vinegar has a strong odor, people who use this technique may prefer to clean their retainer outside. The smell of vinegar can also be reduced by using a disposable dish.

6. Castile soap

Many other cleaning products are more harmful than castile soap. People can manufacture their own with an olive oil and coconut soap solution, although castile soap is widely accessible.

People should use a tiny bit of castile soap in warm water to clean their retainers. The retainer may then be dipped in the solution and scrubbed with a toothbrush.

Allow the retainer to soak for 2-3 minutes before scrubbing it again if required. After that, rinse it with cool water before putting it back in your mouth or putting it in distilled water.

7. Mouthwash

Mouthwash is a mouthwash that is used to remove plaque, germs, and other deposits from the mouth. If no other choices are available, it can also be used to clean a retainer.

Cleaning a retainer with mouthwash every time is not ideal and may not clean it well enough. Mouthwash with alcohol can dry up a retainer as well as the mouth.

People might try immersing a retainer in non-alcoholic mouthwash for 2-3 minutes, rinsing with cold water, and gently brushing with a soft toothbrush if no other choices are available.

8. Retainer cleaner

Retainer cleansers are available from some manufacturers. These items are a cheap choice for people who do not have the time or inclination to build their own solution.

It’s important to follow the instructions on the package. A sonic cleaning machine or overnight soaking are required for a select varieties. Others should not be worn with certain types of retainers or by people who have sensitive teeth or gum disease.

An orthodontist may be able to suggest a retainer cleaner that is tailored to your specific needs.

When should you clean your retainer?

Every time they brush their teeth, people should gently brush their retainer with a soft-bristled brush. Once a week, a more thorough cleaning should be performed.

Here are various indicators that a person’s retainer needs to be cleaned:

  • it has been more than a week since it was cleaned
  • the retainer smells or tastes bad
  • there are white spots on the retainer.
  • the retainer looks cloudy
  • there is a film on the retainer

Mineral buildup (tartar), plaque that causes cavities in teeth, or a combination of the two might cause white spots.

A retainer that keeps breaking or cracking is another symptom that it needs to be cleaned. Bacteria may harm a retainer in the same way that they can damage teeth.

There might be a problem with a person’s retainer if they start experiencing cavities, tooth sensitivity, or other oral health issues all of a sudden. If this happens, they should talk about their dentist or orthodontist about correct retainer maintenance and get the retainer fitted properly.

Myths about retainer cleaning

On the internet, there are many myths concerning oral health and retainer maintenance.

A dentist should be consulted before a retainer is brushed.
Before brushing a retainer, a dentist should be consulted.

The following assertions should not be believed:

  • Retainers remain clean as long as you brush your teeth frequently and do not eat while wearing them.
  • Cleaning solutions for retainers are harmful to your retainer and teeth.
  • Without cleaning, probiotics or other supplements will keep your mouth and retainer healthy.
  • Cleaning your retainer interrupts the growth of healthy bacteria, which is necessary for it to function properly.

Brushing a retainer is also thought to scrape it, according to some people. True, certain retainers should not be brushed, however brushing is OK if one receives authorization from their dentist.