You probably don’t go more than a day without cleaning your teeth… hopefully. So should you commit to the same hygiene routine for your retainer?
Absolutely! Your retainer deserves the same respect. Oral hygiene issues that affect the smile (like plaque and bacteria buildup) can also affect your retainer. Think about it, you’re wearing your retainer every day so why wouldn’t you clean it every day?
Committing to proper retainer care and ensuring that your retainer is always in its best condition will keep these problems at bay.
How To Remove an Essix Retainer to Clean
When you remove a clear retainer, don’t pull it to one side or twist it with your tongue. Your retainer can be damaged, warped or misshapen by aggressive handling.
To remove your clear Essix retainer before cleaning it, gently loosen the retainer by using a clean pointer finger to hook the edge of the retainer toward the back inner surface of your teeth. Gently pull the retainer downward (or upward on your bottom retainer) and loosen both sides to ease it off carefully.
Cleaning Retainers with Denture Cleaner
A lot of people wonder whether you can use a denture cleaner for retainers. The answer is, yes! It’s perfectly safe to soak a dirty retainer in a denture cleaner for about 10 minutes.
There are also brands like RetainerBrite made specifically for your retainer.
Always rinse your retainer first before letting it soak in the denture cleaner. When you take it out, give your retainer a gentle rinsing and scrub with a soft toothbrush.
Cleaning Your Retainer with Baking Soda
Baking soda is a safe, clear retainer cleaner you can use anytime, and it may even help take some of the color out of a retainer that has turned a bit yellow.
There are no harsh chemicals in baking soda, so it’s a good choice for maintaining a healthy pH balance in the mouth and it shouldn’t damage your retainer.
Mix equal parts of water and baking soda to create a paste. If the mixture is relatively sticky, then it’s ready to use. Gently scrub your clear retainer with the baking soda paste using circular motions with a soft toothbrush. Rinse the residue off with lukewarm water when you’re done!
How to Get Rid of Plaque on a Retainer
It’s easiest to remove plaque from your clear retainer while it’s still soft. Hardened plaque can be difficult to remove! This is why it’s essential that you clean your retainer everyday to prevent plaque from hardening.
The simplest method to remove plaque is to use a mild, non-abrasive, antibacterial soap as a retainer cleaning agent and a soft toothbrush.
To remove plaque from your retainer, start by rinsing off any debris with cold running water. Apply a small amount of retainer cleaner (toothpaste, baking soda paste, or mild soap) and use the toothbrush to scrub the inside and outside of the retainer to gently remove the plaque. Rinse off the residue by running the retainer under lukewarm water.
If the plaque has started to harden, you can soak it in a white vinegar solution to loosen it and make it easier to remove with a toothbrush. Create a solution using equal parts water and white vinegar to soak your plastic retainer for about 20 to 30 minutes. Use a soft toothbrush to gently scrub away the plaque, then rinse your retainer under lukewarm water.
A word to the wise, do not put your retainer in the dishwasher, under very hot water, or boil it. All of these will warp and destroy your retainer. And as always, keep it far away from dogs and other pets as they love to use them as a chew toy!
The Bottom Line
If you commit to cleaning your retainer every day, you shouldn’t have to worry about it becoming discolored, smelly or bacteria-ridden. When you’re entering the retention phase of your orthodontic treatment, your orthodontist (Dr. Caudill or Dr. McNeight) will tell you everything you need to know about keeping your retainer in its best condition!
Still have questions about cleaning your retainer?
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions! We love to hear from you and we would love to discuss Invisalign treatment with you.
We’re here to guide you through your treatment process, from your very first visit, to your last appointment.