Cleaning retainers is an important part of good dental hygiene. With braces (and in some instances after surgery), dentists often require patients to wear a retainer to hold their teeth in the proper position. Just as you brush to keep your teeth or a partial clean, it’s important to clean your retainer. Brushing removes harmful bacteria that can lead to plaque buildup.

When Do Retainers Need Cleaning?

Medical News Today explains the following for cleaning retainers. Clean them when:

  • The retainer has a film on it
  • The retainer looks cloudy
  • The retainer tastes or smells bad
  • The retainer has white spots on it
  • It’s been over a week since you’ve cleaned it
  • The retainer keeps breaking or cracking

Helpful Steps in Cleaning Retainers

  • Moisture. Drink lots of water and stay away from sugary drinks. If you didn’t bring anything to store the retainer in, you can soak it in a damp paper towel.
  • Toothpaste. When you brush your teeth, also brush your retainer and use a soft-bristled toothbrush with non-whitening toothpaste to clean it and then rinse it thoroughly.
  • Denture cleaner. Sparing use of dental cleaner is okay for cleaning a retainer, but over time, it can turn a retainer yellow. The way to clean it in denture cleaner is to soak it for about 20 minutes and then scrub it with a soft toothbrush, and rinse thoroughly.
  • Baking soda. Baking soda is a safe disinfectant and can help remove yellow staining from retainers. Make a paste that is half water and half baking soda, gently scrub the retainer and rinse thoroughly.
  • Vinegar. Use half white vinegar and half warm water and soak the retainer for 20 minutes. Scrub any mineral deposits off with a soft toothbrush and soak for another 20 minutes afterward.
  • Castile soap. Add a small amount of Castile soap to warm water, dip the retainer into it and scrub with a toothbrush. Let the toothbrush soak for two to three minutes before further scrubbing and rinse thoroughly with cool water.
  • Mouthwash. When you don’t have other options, you can use mouthwash. Dip the retainer into it for two to three minutes and rinse with cold water, then gently brush with a soft toothbrush. The alcohol content in mouthwash can dry out a retainer, so other methods are better.
  • Retainer cleaner. Retainer cleaners are also products that are available and you can follow the directions on the packaging.

Whatever questions you have about dental care, Dr. Baker is happy to discuss them with you and provide helpful information.

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