How to Clean Your Retainer or Aligners: Expert Tips

If you wear a retainer or aligners, you know that keeping them clean is essential for your oral health. But what's the best way to do it? Here, we'll provide expert tips on how to clean your retainer or aligners safely and effectively. The simplest and safest way to clean your retainer is to use a paste of water and baking soda. This will help eliminate odors, bacterial buildup, and plaque without using any harsh chemicals. To use this method, brush the paste inside and out of the retainer, then rinse with cold or warm water.

You should also consult your orthodontist or retainer provider before using a specialized toothbrush or toothpaste to clean the retainer. Some oils can damage the retainer, so try to avoid them or, at the very least, rinse the retainer thoroughly before placing it back in your mouth. Retainer manufacturers often offer their own cleaners, but you can also buy your own if you're not confident in your ability to make saline solutions. When choosing a retainer cleaner, make sure it's designed specifically for retainers and for the type of retainer you have (plastic or metal).

Effervescent pills are sometimes recommended for soaking retainers, but this method can be toxic. The retainer is placed inside the mouth and against the teeth, so it quickly accumulates bacteria, plaque, and tartar. To reduce this buildup, you can soak the retainer in a saline solution made with distilled water. The salt in the solution will help remove any food particles trapped inside the retainers. If you notice that your retainer is particularly dirty, worn out, or no longer fits properly, contact your orthodontist right away.

Hawley retainers can withstand slightly more severe treatment than other types of retainers, but they're not a good fit for everyone. Retainers are made of porous materials that can absorb anything you use to soak or clean them, so be careful with the soaking time and brush gently immediately after removing the retainers from the denture solution. Finally, avoid using persulfate to clean your retainers. This chemical can seep into porous retainers, making it nearly impossible to completely rinse them out. Instead, brush your teeth as usual and make sure to gently brush the retainer to reduce plaque. The average lifespan of a retainer is two to three years, although it's not uncommon for them to last longer.

With proper care and cleaning, you can extend its life even further.

Callie Bawcombe
Callie Bawcombe

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