Cara Piskai, DMD, an orthodontist in New Jersey, recommends cleaning removable braces with a clean, specialty toothbrush and water. After taking it out in the morning, use the toothbrush to brush both the inside and outside of the retainer with room-warm water.
After cleaning your retainer, pat it dry with a paper towel and place it back in the case with the lid open until completely dry. Keep your retainer in a safe place and take extra care to keep it away from pets.
When cleaning a permanent retainer, it is important that you brush your teeth as usual and floss them thoroughly around the retainer. Using a flossing tool, interdental brush, or floss threader can help you floss the space between the retainer and your gums. This is important because trapped food and bacteria can lead to serious dental problems later.
3 tips for cleaning a retainer
Cleaning your retainer can be easy and should become a habit that you incorporate into your morning routine. dr Harris and Dr. Piskai share some tips below.
- Vinegar: White vinegar is great for sanitizing and removing odors from your retainer. If you want to soak your retainer in vinegar, set a timer for 15 minutes. Longer can start to damage the holder.
- Soap: A small drop of dish soap works wonders to get your retainer extra clean. Just make sure to rinse it out thoroughly.
- Toothbrush: Toothbrushes with hard bristles can scratch your retainer and damage it over time. It is best to use an ultra-soft toothbrush that is only intended for cleaning.
You should always bring your retainer with you to your regular dental visits. You can inspect your retainer for damage, make adjustments, and make sure it’s still in place, says Dr. Horse. It can also be cleaned with an ultrasonic cleaner to remove deposits. If you have a permanent retainer, your dental hygienist may take extra time to thoroughly clean the area around the retainer and teach you how to properly floss to keep it clean between visits.
Many products on the market are designed to make your retainer easier to clean and can help extend its life. dr Piskai shares, “You can also use special retainer cleaning tablets like Retainer Brite to keep your retainers looking like new.” Home products like a UV scanner can also help.
Retainer cleaning methods to avoid
While it may seem intuitive to clean your retainer the same way you would clean your teeth or other dental equipment, it’s not always the best idea. Our experts dr. Ross, Dr. Piskai and Dr. Harris gave helpful tips on what to avoid.
- Avoid using toothpaste on your retainer as it can leave a white residue over time.
- Avoid soaking in mouthwash as it can soil your retainer and degrade over time.
- Do not use denture cleaning solution as it can be too harsh and create porosity in the retainer material, making it more likely to break.
- Do not clean your retainer in hot or boiling water as this may cause the plastic to warp or change shape.
- Do not use harsh chemicals such as bleach on your retainer.