Know More All About How to Clean Retainers

If you ever had braces, you may have heard about retainers. They help to keep your teeth straight  after the braces are off. Orthodontists recommend wearing retainers as long as you can to prevent your teeth from moving back. If you don’t know how to clean clear retainers, you should read this article to know when is the right time to clean and how to clean plastic retainers. Know how to clean retainers.

Things to Know Before Starting on How to Clean Retainers

Before starting on how to clean retainers, you must know all its types. There are three types of primary retainers, all of which your orthodontist would suggest after your braces for several months. The three types of retainers include:

Hawley Retainers

These retainers are made up of plastic or acrylic and wire that are sculpted on your mouth contours. The main benefit of this type of retainer is that they are effective and durable. They are invasive at first and sometimes affect patients’ speech patterns in the early days. This effect will go away once you get used to having a retainer in your mouth. People prefer other types of retainers when compared to this type as it is more noticeable than the others.

Clear Retainers

These are less durable than the Hawley retainers; some people prefer retainers because they are clear, molded plastic. Due to this reason, they are not as noticeable. If you don’t know how to clean plastic retainers, they become noticeable because they become dirty.

Permanent Retainers

Sometimes referred to as “bonded” retainers, these are permanently attached to the back of the front teeth. Your dentist may tell you to use it for several months before suggesting another type. Many people prefer these types of retainers as they are not that noticeable, but they can be uncomfortable.

What Are the Uses of Retainers?

how to clean retainers


Retainers are usually the last phase of teeth-straightening procedure. Once whichever teeth-straightening process your dentist or orthodontist has decided upon is complete, it is the job of the retainers to make sure that the teeth do not shift back into their original positions by wearing retainers — in most cases, only at night. 

How Many Times Should You Clean Your Retainers?

It can be nerve-racking not having a constant retainer cleaning method, but it does not have to be. Read the following to learn more.

How to Clean Retainers- Daily

You can clean your retainers by brushing them with a soft-bristle brush. Gently scrub the retainers after brushing your teeth to loosen up the soft and mostly invisible plaque that occurs when you wear it. Mechanically removing the soft plaque will help you to prevent hard tartar. It may be the simplest and essential step to keeping your retainer clean long term.

How to Clean Retainers- Weekly

Be sure to give the retainer a deeper clean to break up set-in plaque, hardened tartar, and kill microbes that cause bad breath. Deeper cleaning of the retainer will also keep it looking brand new. You can preserve the beautiful colors of the Hawley retainer or the clarity of your clear plastic retainers.

If you have no idea how to clean clear retainers, read the following for the extremely effective ways to deep clean retainers.

  •    You can use mild dish soap and gently scrub your retainers with a toothbrush and rinse well before inserting.
  • Use a ratio of 1:1 of white vinegar and water. You have to soak them depending on your level of plaque and tartar, usually for 3-10 minutes. Scrub your retainers with a toothbrush and carefully rinse them before inserting them.
  • There is an effervescent tablet known as retainer Brite. You can use it and gently rub it with a toothbrush and wash it well before inserting it.

How to Clean Plastic Retainers?

how to clean retainers


You can remove both Hawley and plastic retainers from your mouth for daily cleaning. Do the following to clean your retainers.

  1. Ensure that you clean the retainer as soon as you remove it while it is wet. It will make it easier to clean off any debris before it hardens.
  2. Brush out the retainer with lukewarm water after every meal. Brushing your teeth around this time would be a good idea.
  3. For a deeper clean, mix lukewarm water with mild dish soap. You can utilize a soft toothbrush to scrub the plaque and other debris.
  4. If necessary, to get into the deepest grooves and ridges on clear plastic retainers, you can use a cotton swab as it will be efficient.
  5. Ask your dentist about soaking your retainer in a denture or retainer cleaner, like Efferdent or Polident. If your dentist recommends soaking, you should mix a cup of lukewarm water with one tablet of cleaner and follow the package instructions for timing.

If there is debris that is stubborn and won’t come off, you should take it to your dentist. There are special methods that can remove stubborn tartar.

How to Clear Clean Retainers?

You will have to attach these retainers to your teeth. You should floss them daily to keep them clean. This process for beginners may seem intimidating, but you will get the hang of it eventually. Do the following to clean fixed retainers.

  1. Grab a floss and use a floss threader to thread the floss between your two front lower teeth.
  2. Hold one end of the floss with your fingers and the other with the threader.
  3. After getting the floss under the retainer wire, move it up and down between the teeth to the gum line. Gently go through the gum line if possible.
  4. Slide the floss sideways to the next cleaning area. Pull down until it is between your teeth.
  5. Repeat this procedure with each tooth that is attached to the permanent retainer.

If it is your first time or a beginner, do not hesitate to ask for help from your dentist. They will help you with the accurate techniques to clean them.

How to Care For the Retainers?

how to clean retainers


There are several ways you can harm your retainers, and read the following on how to care for them.

Time Your Soak

If you choose to use tablets, do not soak a Hawley retainer for too long. It can corrode the metal components of the retainers. Only soak it for the time it takes to clean it.

If you want to freshen the retainer’s smell and kill bacteria, you can do a quick mouthwash soak. Ensure that you mix equal parts of mouthwash and lukewarm water.

Avoid Chemical

Avoid all harsh chemicals when cleaning your retainers regularly. Strong chemicals can dissolve the material that makes up your retainer. It can leave your retainer fragile, brittle, or full of voids over time. It can leave small spaces for plaque and bacteria to accumulate, which will make it almost impossible to clean. Your retainer can absorb the chemical which may be ingested when you wear it. These probably are not the type of chemicals that you want in your body.

Keep Watch

In the presence of pets, keep an eye on your retainers to ensure that your pet does not chew them. Be mindful of where you put the retainer while eating. If you happen to put it on a napkin, you may forget or throw it in the trash.

Also Read: The Benefits Of Professional Teeth Whitening Over Home Remedies

Avoid Heat

You should avoid your heat at all times while cleaning retainers. Heat can melt the plastic. It can cause irreparable distortions and damage with clear plastic aligners. Excessive heat can cause the Hawley retainer wires to become distorted and can bend the retainer. The bends can add unplanned and unwanted forces to your teeth causing unwanted teeth movements during the retention phase.

Replace your Retainers As Needed

Eventually, all retainers are meant to be replaced, but these retainers will last long. If you take good care of Hawley retainers, it will last for five years. There are signs that your retainer will tell if it is time to replace it. Replacement signs for a retainer are acrylic or a deformed or bent wire. Hard yellow or white tartar may build up and is impossible to remove. These are the signs that you should replace your retainers.

Clear retainers tend to last for 18-24 months due to their plastic nature. These are more vulnerable to people that clench or grind their teeth. Signs that you should replace your retainer are yellowing, a foul smell that does not even after washing, holes or cracks in the plastic from normal tear and wear.

Bonded permanent retainers stay bonded forever, but you can remove and replace them with the help of your dentist for deep dental cleanings. Such as in this case, when replaced, you will get a new bonded permanent retainer after your dental cleaning.


It is as crucial as brushing your teeth to clean the retainers. You should clean the retainer in warm water and dish soap once a day. It is good to brush it out after every meal. The article discusses how to clean retainers in retail. However, the methods and tips in this article are general. It is best to ask the dentist for specific care instructions.

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