How to Properly Maintain Your Retainer

Once your braces, Brius, or Invisalign® treatment is complete, how do you maintain your beautiful new smile for years to come? 

To retain your smile, maintain your retainer. It’s a bit of a tongue-twister, but it’s true! Your retainer deserves the same respect you dedicated to your braces, Brius, or Invisalign aligners.

By storing and cleaning your retainer properly, you’ll keep your retainer in its best condition and your smile in its most beautiful state.  

Here’s how to clean your retainer and how to store it properly to maximize its lifespan!


How often should I clean my retainer?

Retainers will attract debris and plaque just like your teeth, so it’s essential that you treat your retainer as well as you do your smile. Think about it, you’re wearing your retainer everyday so why wouldn’t you clean it everyday?

Make it a general rule to clean your retainer every time you clean your teeth. After each meal, rinse off your retainer and use a mild soap and a soft toothbrush to wash off any bacteria.

It’s a good idea to have a soft-bristled toothbrush that you use exclusively for your retainer. 

Not all brands of toothpaste will be suitable for cleaning your retainer. Specialized toothpaste, like whitening toothpaste, often include abrasive ingredients that can damage or discolor your retainer. 

Always wash your hands before cleaning your retainer too! Using dirty hands on a dirty retainer kind of defeats the purpose of cleaning it, doesn’t it?


Can you use a denture cleaner on retainers?

Yes, you can use a denture cleaner for certain retainers! Please check with Dr. Matsumoto if it’s safe to soak your particular retainer in a denture cleaner for about 10 minutes. 

There are also soaking solutions like RetainerBrite made specifically for your retainer. You can use a cleaning solution once or twice a week to disinfect your retainer.


How to Get Rid of Plaque on a Retainer

To clean a retainer with plaque, it’s best to clean it while the plaque is still soft. Hardened plaque can be difficult to remove! It’s essential that you clean your retainer everyday to prevent plaque from hardening.

The simplest method to remove plaque is using a mild, non-abrasive, antibacterial soap as a retainer cleaning agent and a soft toothbrush. 

If the plaque has started to harden, you can soak it in a vinegar solution to loosen it and make it easier to remove with a toothbrush. Create a solution using equal parts water and 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.

Avoid using mouthwash, especially those with alcohol content, to clean your retainer because these ingredients can dry out your retainer, causing it to crack, or damage the material.


How to clean your retainer with vinegar

Create a vinegar solution of equal parts water and white vinegar. Soak your retainer for about 20 minutes before rinsing it under lukewarm water and gently brushing it clean. 


How to clean your retainer with baking soda

Create a cleaning solution with one teaspoon of baking soda in a small bowl of distilled water. Soak your retainer for about a minute. Gently rub off any remaining solution and rinse your retainer under lukewarm water. 

You can also create baking soda paste with a teaspoon of water and a teaspoon of baking soda. This paste should be sticky enough to adhere to the retainer. Cover your retainer in the paste and give it a very gentle scrub, cleaning the inside and outside of the retainer. Remove the paste by rinsing your retainer under lukewarm water. 

Baking soda paste can be especially beneficial for eliminating odors! 


Clean your retainer case too!

Once you clean your retainer, you don’t want to place it back in a dirty case. Clean your retainer case regularly, before and after placing your retainer in your mouth. 

You can use the same treatment on your retainer case as you do on your retainer. Soak your case in a vinegar solution, baking soda solution or use mild soap and lukewarm water to disinfect your case.


The Bottom Line

If you commit to cleaning your retainer everyday, 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, Dr. Matsumoto will tell you everything you need to know about keeping your retainer in its best condition so you can enjoy your beautiful new smile for a lifetime!


Still have questions about how to properly maintain your retainer?

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions. We’re here to support you during and after your orthodontic treatment, so you can just enjoy your beautiful new smile. 

Haven’t started your smile journey yet? Request your complimentary consultation with our Wilmington, NC orthodontist office today!

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