Accepting New Patients In Summerlin & Centennial

How To Clean The Different Types Of Retainers

The majority of people understand the importance of brushing and flossing their teeth. Unfortunately, most people who wear retainers go for a long time without cleaning them. It’s crucial to understand that the same bacteria that build up on teeth can also accumulate on retainers. Therefore, placing an unclean retainer in your mouth is comparable to applying a bacteria-packed solution to your teeth. If you don’t know how and why you should clean your retainer, here are some tips that can help.

Why You Must Always Clean Your Retainer

If you use a retainer and you are not taking care of it, then you are compromising your oral health. Your retainer sits in your mouth and is in constant contact with your teeth. There’s nothing stopping it from accumulating bacteria, plaque, and tartar. This is why it’s important to clean this device daily.

Retainer Cleaning Varies by Type

Before you attempt to clean your retainer, it’s crucial to first understand what type of retainer you have. You likely have one of these three types of retainers:

Hawley retainers – This type of retainer is molded out of acrylic to fit your mouth. Hawley retainers come with a wire that helps hold them in place. They are quite easy to clean because they are removable.

Clear plastic retainers – These are also known as Essix or clear aligners. Clear plastic retainers slip over your teeth, and they are quite discreet. The main thing that differentiates clear plastic retainers and Hawley retainers is durability. While they are both removable and easy to clean, clear plastic retainers aren’t as durable as Hawley retainers.

Fixed, or bonded, retainers – Unlike the other two types, these retainers are not removable. Bonded retainers are actually attached to the lower front teeth. These retainers are usually used in cases where there is a high risk of tooth shifting.

General Cleaning for All Types of Retainers

While each retainer has a specific cleaning method, there are tips that apply to all retainers. For instance, it’s crucial to ensure that your retainers are kept moist. These devices are made for a wet environment, so you must never place them in a dry environment. Doing this can cause tartar and biofilm to stick to your retainer.

If, for some reason, you need to take your retainer out of your mouth, you must keep it submerged in liquids. Ideally, you should use distilled water with a bit of baking soda. Please note that it’s not a good idea to use tap water to soak your retainer because it contains minerals that can accelerate the formation of plaque.

Once a week, you should soak your retainer in white vinegar. This will help get rid of any bacteria on it. You must soak the device in white vinegar for about 15 minutes. Once done, you can rinse it and either put it back in your mouth or soak it in distilled water.

It’s generally not recommended to brush your retainer aggressively. This can gouge the material and create space for bacteria to hide and proliferate. If you feel like your retainer has more buildup than normal, you must take it to your dentist. Dentists use ultrasonic cleaners and special cleaning formulas to disinfect and eliminate any buildup without damaging the retainer.

How to Clean a Hawley Retainer

You must clean the retainer the moment you take it out of your mouth. Leaving it to dry increases the risk of food drying and sticking to the retainer. If there are food particles on your retainer, you can use a soft-bristled toothbrush and warm water to remove them. If the brush that you use for your teeth is too hard, you should get a softer one for the retainer. Remember, brushing the retainer with force is not a great idea.

If you are not putting the retainer back into your mouth immediately, you can mix some warm water and baking soda, then clean it with the solution. Avoid using toothpaste. The abrasive ingredients in toothpaste can harm your retainer.

You must always check your retainer for trapped food particles. If you notice that there are some hard-to-reach areas that you are failing to clean with your brush, you can use a soft cotton swab instead. You can also ask your dentist if there are any dedicated retainer cleaner options that you can use. Your dentist can recommend some safe concoctions that can thoroughly clean the retainer.

How to Clean a Plastic Retainer

It’s important to take out your plastic retainer when you eat or drink to avoid staining it. To clean your plastic retainer, take it out of your mouth and immediately rinse it with cool water. It’s advisable to use a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean the retainer. However, you mustn’t do this every day, as excessive brushing can scratch the retainer.

You should never use soap to clean your retainer as it can warp or soak into the device. Instead, stick to cleaning it with cool water and a gentle brush. If the retainer warps, it will end up shifting your teeth from proper alignment, which defeats the entire purpose.

How to Clean a Fixed or Bonded Retainer

There are two basic types of fixed retainers. The first is glued to each individual tooth, and the second is glued to the teeth at the ends. The most useful tool when it comes to cleaning permanent retainers is a floss threader. All you need to do is pass a piece of dental floss through the threader and insert it beneath the wire.

If you have the type of retainer attached to each tooth, you should hold the floss in your hand and insert it between each tooth. On the other hand, if your retainer is attached to the teeth at the end, once you pull the floss through, it will be easy to continuously floss the teeth behind the wire. It’s crucial to floss your retainer daily.

Retainers ensure that you don’t lose the results of your orthodontic treatment. However, if you don’t clean your retainer, you can introduce more problems that can compromise your oral health. Fortunately, cleaning your retainers is not a complicated process. You only need to figure out which type of retainer you have and then follow our simple to understand cleaning tips.

Feel free to contact our friendly team at Aloha Orthodontics for more information today.


Mon - Fri: 9:30am - 5:30pm
Sat - Sun: Closed


Mon - Fri: 9:30am - 5:30pm
Sat - Sun: Closed

Copyright © 2024 Aloha Orthodontics
Built by Connect the Doc