How to Clean Retainers–Three Unique Ways
By Dr. Dustin Coles – Premier Orthodontics
Table of Contents
Let’s talk in detail about how to clean retainers. It’s more complex than you might think, and there are three different cleaning options you can choose from…
First, what are orthodontic retainers? They keep your teeth in place after braces are removed or Invisalign treatment is complete. Even once your teeth have been straightened, they need support to stay that way on a long-term basis…
Given a chance, they will begin to move back to where they started and the problem you had in the first place will return. This is why orthodontic retainers are a life-long commitment and an essential part of keeping your teeth straight after braces or Invisalign.
If you’re going to have your retainer for the rest of your life, it makes sense that you’ll want to know how to keep it clean so that your mouth also stays clean and healthy.
Why Is it Essential to Keep Retainers Clean?
Retainers that aren’t cleaned properly not only look bad—they also can store bacteria, viruses, and fungus such as:
…and many others.
These bacteria don’t just have scary names…
…they also can cause tooth decay, bad breath, and even cause fungal infections!
Just for these reasons alone, clean retainers are a must! Here are the three ways you can clean your retainer.
How to Clean Your Retainer With a Toothbrush
The easiest way to clean your retainers is by simply scrubbing them with your toothbrush.
We recommend putting a small amount of dish soap or hand soap into your retainer, scrubbing vigorously with your toothbrush, and then rinsing thoroughly with water.
That’s about it!
Your toothbrush can remove any food particles and debris from your retainers which tend to build up over time (and that provide food for those nasty bacteria bugs we talked about).
This method can be used on clear plastic retainers or the traditional hawley retainers (the kind pictured above with metal wires and colored plastic).
How to Clean Your Retainer By Soaking With a Cleaning Tablet
A second option to clean your retainers is by soaking them with a cleaning tablet. To do this effectively, we recommend using a product called Retainer Brite.
Retainer brite is super simple and very affordable!
Here’s how it works. You simply…
- Place your retainers in a cup with warm water
- Drop a tablet of retainer brite into the cup
- Soak your retainer for 15 minutes
After 15 minutes the Retainer Brite cleaning tablet kills almost all the bacteria, removes odors, and will help keep your clear retainer clear and bright. You can also use this product on a traditional hawley retainer that contains a metal wire a plastic.
You can get a 3 month supply of retainer brite for just $13 on Amazon. (That comes out to be just .13 cents a day)
Check out the video below to see how to clean retainers using Retainer Brite tablets
How to Clean Your Retainer Using an Ultrasonic Cleaner
If you want the premium “clean-and-care” experience for your retainer, an ultrasonic cleaner is a hard option to beat.
These devices are specifically designed to clean orthodontic retainers by using small vibrations that penetrate into the smallest areas of your retainer that may be missed by your toothbrush.
These units run about $40 on Amazon, and while not absolutely required for your retainers, they will help to keep your retainer spotless for life!
Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning Retainers
No matter which way you choose to clean your retainer, tare a few things you must avoid.
- Do not boil your retainer (they melt!)
- Do not put your retainer in the dishwasher (again – they melt!)
- Do not use bleach on your retainer
- Don’t use any other cleaning solutions except those recommended above on your retainer
By following the steps listed above….
…there’s no reason you can’t keep your retainer clean and bacteria free for life!
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