“Are you wearing your retainer?” is the question we often from our dentist or orthodontist. But the really important question is “Are you cleaning your retainer?” If we’re following our dentist’s advice, we should be wearing our retainer multiple times a week, if not every day. We’re touching our retainers with our hands and then putting it into our mouths. And who knows what our hands have been touching. Gross, right?
Well, we can help. We’ve got all the best ways to clean AND sanitize your retainer so wearing it becomes maybe a little easier and you’re less likely to have to shell out some money to replace it.
What’s the Best Way to Clean Your Retainer?
Before you begin cleaning your retainer, it’s important to know what things to avoid:
- Chemicals like alcohol
- Long soaking times
- Toothpaste (the abrasive qualities of toothpaste can scratch your retainer)
- Denture cleaner (often this will turn your retainer yellow)
So, how should you clean your retainer? Here are a few simple steps:
- Rinse your retainer using warm or cool water and rub away any visible gunk or grime. This step should happen immediately after you take out your retainer.
- Brush your retainer gently with a toothbrush. This can happen as you are brushing your teeth — two birds with one stone!
- Soak your retainer. Read below for the best solutions to soak your retainer in. Just remember to watch your retainer carefully and don’t let it soak for too long!
- Scrub your retainer with a mixture of lukewarm water and dish soap. To get in all the grooves and creases of your retainer, consider using something like a cotton swab. Just make sure whatever you use is gentle so you can avoid scratches.
- Rinse off your retainer. Either put it back in your mouth or try to keep it moist. You don’t want your retainer to dry out so consider putting it into a bowl of water. If you keep your retainer in a case, make sure it’s sealed well and that the case itself is clean.
How Often Should You Clean and Disinfect Your Retainer?
Every time you brush your teeth you should clean your retainer. It’s a good way to remember to clean it if you associate cleaning your retainer when you clean your teeth. When you brush your teeth, it’s very easy to gently scrub your retainer and rinse it with water. You should do a deeper clean about once a week. Not sure if it’s time to clean your retainer? These five signs will let you know it’s time to clean.
- Your retainer has white spots on it.
- Your retainer tastes or smells bad.
- It’s been more than a week since you last remember cleaning.
- There’s cloudiness.
- You can see a film on your retainer.
If you notice any of these things, then it's cleaning time.
What Can You Use to Soak Your Retainer?
With soaking your retainer in any liquid, make sure you closely monitor the length of time you let it soak. Soaking for too long in any liquid can cause permanent damage. Below are the best liquids to soak your retainer in:
- Cleaning tablets — You can buy cleaning tablets that are meant for retainers. Make sure to follow directions to know how long to soak.
- Mouthwash and water — Mouthwash can dry out your retainer so make sure you balance it with lukewarm water. Mouthwash will help make your retainer fresh and also kill some bacteria.
- Vinegar and water — Soak your retainer in an equal mixture of water and vinegar for 20 minutes. To avoid lingering strong smells, use a disposable container and soak your retainer outside.
- Retainer cleaner — Each retainer cleaner has specific instructions to follow when soaking.
Disinfecting Your Retainer
Cleaning often isn’t enough, especially for something that is coming into contact with lots of bacteria. We don’t really want to soak or spray something we put in our mouths with strong-smelling Clorox. We have a safe and odorless solution. After cleaning your retainer, pop it into our PhoneSoap for 10 or fewer minutes and ensure a 99.99% disinfection. It’s easy and simple and will help you worry less about spreading bacteria.
Why Does Your Retainer Smell and How Do You Fix It?
Plaque, bacteria, and buildup of food and gunk can cause your retainer to stink. No one wants or needs a stinky retainer. So, how can you fix that?
- Clean your retainer after every use.
- Keep your mouth clean.
- Briefly soak your retainer in mouth wash.
- Sanitize your retainer with PhoneSoap to kill odor-inducing bacteria.
- Don’t forget to clean your case (often this will have just as much gunk and bacteria as your retainer).
- If your retainer still smells, you may need to purchase a replacement.
Can You Get Sick from Not Cleaning Your Retainer?
When too much bacteria builds up on your retainer, it can make you sick. Your retainer can be a home for bacteria that can cause illnesses like strep.
How to Clean Plaque from Retainers?
After soaking or rinsing your retainer, you can use a cotton swab or a soft toothbrush to scrub away the plaque. Soaking should make it easy to remove any plaque you can find on the retainer. Mouthwash is designed to help remove plaque from your teeth and can do the same for your retainer, just make sure to follow the directions above for soaking your retainer in mouthwash.
Best Retainer Cleaning Products
- Dental Duty Retainer Cleaning Tablets — These come in a four-month supply and help kill bacteria and unpleasant odors. You should soak your retainer for 15–20 minutes.
- WhiteFoam On-the-Go Clear Retainer Cleaner — You don’t need to soak your retainer with this product, and you can use it while wearing your retainer. It helps kill bacteria and can whiten both your teeth and retainer. If you use it as directed, it should last about one month.
- Invisalign Cleaning Crystals for Aligners and Retainers — You can purchase a 50-week supply. The tablets are easy to use and only take 15 minutes to remove bacteria and odor from your retainer.
- Efferdent Denture Cleaner — A cheaper tablet option that gives you more than 200 tablets. You can get mint-flavored tablets if you want your retainer to be extra fresh. The best part? It only takes 5 minutes of soaking.
- OAP Cleaner — This foam cleaner is easy to use on-the-go and only takes 60 seconds to kill bacteria and germs. It’s not too pricey and is set to last about 45 days.
Cleaning your teeth isn’t as effective if you aren’t also cleaning your retainer. Dental hygiene is extremely important. Keeping your retainer clean and disinfected will keep you safe and save you money.
Don’t let your retainer make your breath smell or cause you grief. It’s easy to clean it AND disinfect it. Clean your retainer while you brush your teeth and disinfect it with the PhoneSoap after disinfecting your phone. It’s easier than you think.