How to Clean A Retainer: 4 Tips Straight From An Orthodontist!

Retainer Care advice from Okubo OrthodonticsIf you use a retainer for teeth straightening, Midvale orthodontist Dr. Okubo has 4 professional recommendations for helping you keep your retainer clean and fresh!

If your orthodontist has fitted you with a retainer for teeth straightening, you’d better make sure you understand how to keep it clean and bacteria free. Waking up in the morning and finding that the retainer your Midvale orthodontist bestowed upon you has become a self-sustaining bacterial ecosystem, you’re going to regret not following the cleaning instructions. If you happened to zone out during that part of the “Intro to Retainers” speech that your orthodontist gave you, don’t worry. We’ve got the retainer cleaning info you need below!

How to Clean Your Retainer Thoroughly

We’ve asked Midvale orthodontist, Dr. Okubo, to share his recommendations on what materials are best for cleaning retainers and now we’re sharing his pro tips with you. Keep in mind that these instructions are for retainers that are acrylic and metal wires.

1. Use toothpaste and a soft toothbrush. If you choose to use the toothbrush and toothpaste method, make sure you DON’T use tartar control toothpaste as it contains abrasive ingredients. The reason why you want a soft toothbrush and should avoid abrasive toothpastes is because repeated scrubbing can scratch the surface of the retainer acrylic, and scratches on a retainer are great hiding places for bacteria. Scrub your retainer thoroughly, on all sides, but not forcefully as a retainer cleaning can be thorough without being rough and causing scratches.

2. Use denture cleaner. Denture cleansers aren’t just for the toothless – people using retainers for teeth straightening can use them as well! Efferdent, Polident and Dentasoak are popular denture cleaners that you can use to clean your retainers. Soak the retainer in the denture cleaner, following the recommended time on the cleaner’s instructions. Once it has soaked for the correct amount of time, rinse it while gently cleaning the surface with a soft toothbrush.

3. Use mouthwash. Only use a mouthwash to clean your retainers if you have verified that the mouthwash is non-alcoholic, since alcohol can damage the retainer acrylic. If you find a few mouthwashes that are non-alcoholic, choose one that is clear to avoid discoloration of the retainer. If you have a non-alcoholic, clear mouthwash, soak your retainer in the mouthwash for an hour, then remove and scrub gently with a soft toothbrush.

4. You can also use distilled white vinegar. If you prefer to use natural products for your personal hygiene or need to find a cleaner that is already within your house, you can use distilled white vinegar. Just mix 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water in a cup and soak your retainer in the mixture for about 15 minutes, followed by a gentle brushing with a soft toothbrush.

A Few More Retainer Cleaning Tips from Dr. Okubo

  • It’s mentioned above that you should avoid mouthwash that has alcohol in it, however we would like to emphasize – keep an eye out for any and all cleaners that may contain alcohol or Lysol. It’s best to carefully review the ingredients of any cleansers you’re considering for cleaning your retainers.
  • You may have noticed that all of the above recommendations for cleaning your retainer included a gentle scrubbing with a soft toothbrush. For acrylic and wire retainers, it’s best to always follow a cleansing soak with a gentle brushing, making sure that all the nooks and crannies have been cleaned thoroughly.
  • Don’t use bleach. Using bleach to clean your retainer is a bad idea. Not only is it a harsh chemical for your retainer, you also don’t want to be getting any of that in your mouth. If you are recommended to use bleach as a retainer cleaner, just don’t!

Any More Questions for Your Midvale Orthodontist?

Teeth straightening can be quite a process, especially if you want the job done properly. We would like to help your teeth straightening procedure go smoothly, so if you wear a retainer and have any questions about proper cleaning, ask them in the comments below! If your retainer needs some heavy duty cleaning, contact Midvale orthodontist Dr. Okubo and we’ll set you up with an ultrasonic retainer cleaning appointment!