How To Clean A Retainer- 10 Safe And Easy Ways

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For cleaning retainers, a variety of cleaning methods are available. 

Using Water, White vinegar, Baking soda, Castile Soap, UV Sanitiser, Retainer cleaner, etc, all are safe solutions to clean a retainer. 

How To Clean Your Retainer The Safe And Natural Way

After talking about the worst methods of cleaning retainers, let’s examine the best methods for keeping them clean and fresh without using any risky substances.

I should note that before we get started, people frequently ask me how to clean various kinds of retainers. The good news is that the cleaning procedure is the same whether you have clear retainers (like Invisalign or Essix) or a metal and acrylic version.

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Cleaning Tips For Any Type Of Retainer:

Always keep it moist. Moving retainers from your mouth, which is a wet environment, to the bathroom counter, which is a dry environment, is a terrible idea and will hasten the aging of your retainer.

My best piece of advice is to never let your retainer dry out as this is what will cause tartar and biofilm to adhere to it. Keep it in your mouth or submerge it in liquids.

I advise adding a few drops of castile soap or baking soda to a container of distilled water. Just regular distilled water will work if you run out of both.

Using distilled water is important because the minerals in tap water can seed the formation of plaque (also called “calculus”) on your retainers.

Soak it in white vinegar once per week. Soak your retainer in white vinegar for about 15 minutes once a week to make sure it’s free of bacteria. Rinse and soak as usual in distilled water after that.

Don’t brush it. Your retainer’s material may become damaged from brushing, creating a haven for bacteria to grow and live. Soak instead of brushing your teeth because bacteria equals dirt.

Go to the dentist with it. You should visit your dentist if your retainers need to be cleaned or you notice more buildup than usual. Your dentist has an ultrasonic cleaner and specialized cleaning solutions that can disinfect the retainers and remove any buildup without the use of hazardous chemicals.

A great ultrasonic cleaner is also available for home use.

10 Ways To Clean Your Retainer

As I previously stated, the best way to keep your retainer clean and moist is to keep it submerged in a soaking solution when it’s not in your mouth. All you require is plain, distilled water, but using the following advice will help you more effectively combat bacteria.

1. Baking Soda

The safest method for cleaning your retainer is baking soda, which also works much better than store-bought retainer cleaners. Here’s why:

The harmful bacteria are repelled by baking soda.

By naturally balancing the pH of the mouth, baking soda can prevent the growth of harmful oral bacteria. Typically, the “bad guys” that cause trouble in the mouth thrive in a more acidic environment, and baking soda combats this problem by neutralizing the pH of the mouth and rebalancing the oral microbiome. Similar to bleach, baking soda’s higher pH allows it to disinfect retainers.

Baking soda can help reduce the odor that retainers frequently produce.

After a while, retainers and other dental appliances begin to smell like rotten fruit. Baking soda is a natural, secure, and efficient deodorizer. Regular use will undoubtedly keep the stink at bay.

I keep a stainless steel parmesan cheese shaker filled with baking soda on my bathroom counter so I can quickly add a few shakes to my distilled water container.

2. Castile Soap

Some people report that after they discontinue the use of dangerous cleaning tablets, they miss the “clean” smell they impart. Thankfully, using castile soap is a secure and efficient way to achieve the same freshness. Just add a few squirts of castile soap to the water you soak the retainer in.

Olive oil and coconut oil are the two primary components of castile soap. This means that it can effectively clean and moisturize your retainer without subjecting it—or you—to potentially harmful materials like persulfate.

Castile soap isn’t the best option because it might contain essential oils that have an antibacterial effect on the mouth. Try to stay away from these oils, or at the very least, thoroughly rinse the retainer before replacing it in your mouth.

(Alternately, you could try the homemade retainer cleaner I personally employ.)

3. White Vinegar

Your retainer will remain clean and sterile if you soak it in white vinegar for about 15 minutes once a week. After the vinegar soak, make sure to thoroughly rinse your retainer, and then put it in a stainless steel container with distilled water.

4. UV Sanitiser

My answer to this question is, “You shouldn’t.” UV light damages acrylic and causes cell oxidation, even though many dentists advise using UV sanitizers and actually have one in their office. Avoid using this strategy.

5. Hydrogen Peroxide

You shouldn’t ever use hydrogen peroxide to clean your retainer! If you remember nothing else from this article, keep this in mind!

Hydrogen peroxide shouldn’t ever be used in the mouth, despite being frequently advised against it. It results in the production of free radicals, and free radicals are what cause us to age.

As if that weren’t bad enough, hydrogen peroxide is toxic and destroys every type of oral bacteria, many of which are essential to the health of the oral microbiome. Oral cancers and the use of hydrogen peroxide has also recently been linked, according to research.

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6. Water 

Water cannot naturally clean a retainer, but drinking plenty of water throughout the day can help to reduce bacterial growth. A retainer will avoid damage if it is kept moist. A dry mouth, which is associated with tooth decay, is also fought off by water.

A person can try swishing some water in their mouth a few times if their retainer feels dirty.

Similar to how they affect the teeth, soda and other sugary beverages can have an impact on a retainer. Before consuming any food or drinking anything with added sugar, people should take out their retainers.

Dry retainers are more vulnerable to injury. In light of this, no one should permit this to occur, especially overnight. Instead, whenever a retainer is taken out, soak it in distilled water.

If there is nothing available to store the retainer in or if the retainer is dirty and cannot be cleaned right away, one can soak it in a damp paper towel until one can clean it.

7. Toothpaste

People should brush their retainer along with their teeth. Use a non-whitening toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush for best results. After that, take the retainer off and give it a good rinse.

After removing the retainer, people should brush their teeth once more to remove any residue.

8. Denture Cleaner

In particular, if there is no other option, occasionally cleaning a retainer with denture cleaner is safe. Denture cleaner, however, can over time cause a retainer to turn yellow.

After rinsing the retainer, people should soak it in denture cleaner for about 20 minutes before cleaning it. They should use a soft toothbrush to scrub it after taking it out.

Rinsing should continue until the retainer stops tasting like a denture cleaner.

9. Mouthwash

Plaque, bacteria, and other oral deposits are combated by mouthwash. If no other options are available, it can also clean a retainer.

It’s not ideal and might not clean retainers thoroughly enough to use mouthwash every time. Alcohol-containing mouthwash can also dry out the mouth and a retainer.

If there are no other options, people can try soaking a retainer in non-alcoholic mouthwash for two to three minutes, rinsing it under cold water, and then giving it a gentle brushing with a soft toothbrush.

10. Retainer Cleaner

Some producers sell retainer cleaners. These products are a reasonable alternative for people who don’t want to or don’t have the time to create their own solutions.

It’s crucial to adhere to the packaging’s instructions. Some types call for an overnight soak or the use of a sonic cleaning device. Others must not be applied to people with sensitive teeth, gum disease, or certain types of retainers.

Final Thoughts

By keeping your retainer fresh and odor-free, you should be able to maintain your retainer for a very long time to come while also maintaining the health of your mouth.