How to clean your retainers: advice and practical tips.
If you or your child recently got retainers or Invisalign aligners, here is all you need about keeping your retainers clean and safe.
How often should I clean my retainer or aligner?
By the rule of thumb, you should clean your retainers or aligners just as often as you brush your teeth. If not cleaned properly, unfortunately, the retainers will become a breeding ground for bacteria that can make you ill in various ways. Besides daily cleaning, reserve 5 minutes once a week for a deeper, more thorough cleaning.
What do I need to maintain my retainer clean?
First off, you need to dedicate a separate soft-bristled toothbrush solely for cleaning your appliance.
The brand of the toothbrush is not important, you can use any generic brand if the bristles are soft. You don’t want to damage your aligner with a hard brush.
You must be very careful if you have an Invisalign aligner, make sure you don’t brush too hard, otherwise tiny scratches might form that will turn cloudy over usage.
How can I clean my retainer at home?
There are few easy ways to care for your retainer or aligner at home. But first, if you are on the go and the cleaning brush is not available, water is your best friend. Make sure you rinse thoroughly your aligner with water. When you get home, however, use any of the methods described below:
- Toothpaste or mild soap
The easiest way to clean your retainer is to use the same toothpaste that you use for your dental routine. Make sure the product is non-abrasive and non-whitening. Gently brush the retainer for 30 seconds and rinse thoroughly. The toothpaste will not kill all the bacteria but at least will remove a good part of the bacteria build-up. The same applies the soap, choose a non-abrasive, non-scrubbing soap. Brush the retainer gently and rinse with warm water before placing it in your mouth.
- Commercial retainer cleaning products
Ask your dentist about a retainer or denture cleaning product like Efferdent or Polydent. Use the cleaning product no more than few times a week. Follow the instructions for the product you use.The professional cleaning products will remove most of the bacteria from the retainer or aligner.
- A mixture of vinegar and waterPrepare a mixture of 50% white vinegar and warm water and soak your retainer for about 20 minutes. While the retainer is soaking, you can gently brush it for about 2 minutes to remove any deposits. Rinse the appliance abundantly after the soak. The retainer might taste a bit funny when you place it in your mouth due to the vinegar.
How NOT to clean your retainer?
It is very important to keep your aligner clean, however, there are some things that might damage your appliance. Never boil your retainer or soak it in boiling water. The retainers and aligners are made of high-grade medical plastic, if soaked in hot water the appliance might distort and lose its shape.
Bleach is harmful to the plastic; no good amount is good to use to clean your retainer. Eliminate the option of using bleach completely.
Avoid using any type of cleaning product that contains alcohol and is not designed specifically for cleaning retainers and aligners.
Washing the retainer in a dishwasher is not a good idea, the hot water, and the abrasive dishwasher liquid will damage it.
I cannot remove the build-up on my retainer, what should I do?
Sometimes despite all the efforts of cleaning the retainer, a tough layer of build-up might accumulate. Take your retainer to your dentist, in the clinic, there are professional cleaning tools available. The dentist will clean the thoroughly the retainer without damaging the appliance.
I broke my retainer, can it be replaced?
It all depends on how long you’ve been using the appliance. If it is only for a few months, then replacing the retainer will be easy. If you are using the retainer for a longer period, the doctor might find necessary to take new impressions of your teeth.
If you have a question regarding your retainers and is not answered above, leave us a comment below and we will get back to you with an answer within 24 hours.