Have you ever wondered what you should do with your retainer to properly clean it? Do you use a solution or toothpaste? Have you ever thought about the germs that could be living on a dirty retainer? These are all important questions to ask yourself if you currently wear a retainer.

Please make sure you are always cleaning your retainer before inserting it back into your mouth. Some people, often teenagers, get busy and do not take the time to thoroughly wash their retainers. It happens, we understand. But we are here to emphasize the importance of doing so. Bacteria and plaque can grow on your retainer, which can cause bad breath. Clean your retainer every day. It does not take as much time as you might think.

Note: At Huerter orthodontics, we offer permanent retainers that you do not have to remove to clean. Call us for more details about how to get your permanent retainer.

How to clean a removable retainer – step one is the easiest and preferred method:

  • Use a soft bristled toothbrush. Have a separate toothbrush specifically designated to brush your retainer. You can use toothpaste, but do not to use a tartar-control paste. Using a soft toothbrush and a specific toothpaste or soap will help with the longevity of your retainer. Using something harsh or being too rough when cleaning your retainer can cause abrasions. Lightly brush for a couple of minutes, getting into all the nooks and crannies. Make sure you place your retainer back into a case that is also properly cleaned. It’s that easy!
  • Soak your retainer in an alcohol-free mouthwash for a short amount of time. It’s important that you don’t use a mouthwash that is too harsh, like an alcohol-based wash. Again, this is for the longevity of your retainer. It is also so your retainer does not dry out. You do not have to soak for too long. About 20 minutes is perfect. Do not make it a habit to cleanse with a mouthwash, however. A lot of mouthwash brands contain alcohol and you do not want to dry it out or ruin your retainer.
  • Baking soda might be all you need. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer and cleaner that can help your retainer stay fresh. It can also help with bad breath. Using a small amount of baking soda and water with a soft toothbrush is an effective way to clean your retainer. You can also soak your retainer in baking soda and water.
  • You can use denture cleaner to soak your retainer. If you want to soak your retainer in something for a longer period of time, use a denture cleaner. Follow the directions indicated on the cleaner you choose.

If you think your retainer is breaking down or not working properly, bring it in for your Orthodontist to evaluate. It might be time for a replacement.

What not to do:

  • Never use bleach or other cleaning products to disinfect your retainer. Putting something harsh in your mouth could cause other unnecessary issues.
  • Do not boil your retainer. This can melt or disfigure the plastic of the retainer.

Always be sure to talk to your Orthodontist about properly cleaning your retainer. Don’t worry! This is something we always discuss at Huerter Orthodontics before sending you home with a new retainer. There might be something specific that your orthodontist wants you to do. Follow his instructions and never do anything that is not on our treatment plan.