a collection of colorful retainers

How Do You Clean a Retainer?

Team Orthodontics, Retainer

When your teeth finally align properly and your braces are removed, your orthodontist will transition you into using a retainer. This is designed to help you maintain your new, beautiful smile. After all, it was your braces that have straightened your teeth, but it is this retainer that will help keep them straight. 

There is a good chance that you will have your retainer for a while. Take the time to clean and care for it properly so that it can continue to support your teeth in the best way possible. 

The Importance of Cleaning Your Retainer

Your retainer may seem like a small thing, but not keeping it clean is a big deal. Living in the moist environment that is inside your mouth can make it the perfect place for growing bacteria. Day in and day out of exposure to your teeth, your bacteria-ridden retainer can start impacting your oral hygiene. 

You may find yourself dealing with things such as: 

  • Bad breath
  • Gingivitis
  • Cavities

Cleaning your retainer regularly will reduce the chance that your teeth, gums, and retainer are covered in plaque -- and the issues that come with it. 

Cleaning Your Retainer

Cleaning your retainer doesn’t have to be hard or time-consuming. It is just something that you need to become a habit so that you make a point to clean it every day. We’ve got the steps you must add to your oral hygiene regimen. 

Daily Care

Use Toothpaste. Every time you brush your teeth, you should brush your retainer as well. Rinse it off and then gently, using a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-whitening toothpaste, brush your retainer. 

You can do this while your retainer is in your mouth or when it is out, whichever is more comfortable. However, if you brush while wearing it, it’s a good idea to remove it and clean any areas that were covered. 

Gargle with Mouthwash. Before we go any further, it should be noted that mouthwash is not a replacement for brushing. What it can be, though, is a means of reducing plaque and bacteria when brushing isn’t an option. 

Drink Water. You can’t simply clean your retainer by drinking water, but more in-depth cleaning options are not always available. By carrying a bottle of water with you as you go through your day - and drinking it, of course - you will help reduce bacteria. 

Drinking water keeps your mouth moist, including your retainer. This means keeping your retainer from drying out and also reducing the risk of tooth decay (which often happens in a dry mouth).

Weekly Cleaning

Every week you should consider doing a sort of deep cleaning for your retainer. This entails using cleansers or scrubs that will remove any stubborn bacteria and build-up. For instance, consider using a mixture of baking soda and water. Combine these two ingredients until you have a paste. Then, using a soft-bristled toothbrush, scrub the retainer thoroughly. Rinse. 

Another option involves vinegar and warm water. Create a 50/50 mixture in a bowl and then soak your retainer in it for about 15-20 minutes. You can then scrub your retainer with a soft-bristled toothbrush, rinse with water, and then soak for another 15-20 minutes. Rinse. 

Setting aside time to do these more thorough cleanings can lead to better oral health overall. 

Learn How to Care for Your Retainer at Greater Hartford Orthodontics

If you have questions about your retainer, want to know more about how to properly care for it, or are interested in starting your orthodontic treatment, contact Greater Hartford Orthodontics today at 860-667-8277 to schedule an appointment for a consultation. Or request an appointment online.