how to clean retainers

Retainers are orthodontic appliances that fit over the teeth to correct malocclusion or any other dental oversight. They are used primarily in children who have not yet finished growing. Retainers should be worn at all times except while eating, brushing, and cleaning retainers.

Cleaning retainers is very simple; it only takes about ten minutes out of your day to clean them properly. If you fail to clean your retainer regularly thoroughly, bacteria will build-up, resulting in bad breath and an increased chance of gum disease; this can also cause discoloration or staining of your teeth. To avoid these problems, you must follow the step by step guide below when cleaning retainers:

How To Clean Retainers: Tips and Tricks

Types of Retainers:

The right way to clean retainers is based on their material: traditional metal appliances can rust, so they must be washed with hot water and a toothbrush. Plastic retainers, on the other hand, require cold water and regular toothpaste.

The majority of retainers are made from plastic or metal, or rubber; this article will focus on cleaning plastic, rubber, and metal retainers.

Plastic retainers

Here’s what you’ll need:

    • Water (tap)
    • Toothbrush
    • Salt
    • Cloth or towel (to dry off the retainer)
    • Dish detergent (optional)Baking soda (optional)

Plastic retainers


    • Step 1: Fill a small bowl with water and add two to three tablespoons of salt. Stir until the salt has dissolved.
    • Step 2: Place your retainer into the salted water and let it soak for several minutes. If you’re particularly concerned about staining, then feel free to add a drop or two of dish detergent. Baking soda can also be added to the mixture to help fight off any odors resulting from retaining overnight.
    • Step 3: Remove your retainer from its salt bath and scrub it gently with a toothbrush to remove any remaining plaque, food particles, etc. This step is optional but highly recommended if you’ll be wearing your retainers at night (as most people do).

Remove as much toothpaste as possible by rinsing under tap water, then dry thoroughly with either cloth or towel. It is essential to let your retainer dry entirely before placing it back in your mouth.

  • Step 4: Your retainers are now clean! Store them in a safe place until their subsequent use.


Metal Retainers:

Material Required:

    • Container or cleaning solution
    • Toothbrush
    • Water
    • Towel (Optional)

cleaning a retainer


    • Step 1: Put retainer in a bag with cleaning solution or a container
    • Step 2: Place the retainer in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. After this is done, let it cool off before removing it from the oven.
    • Step 3: Remove retainer from bag and brush with an actual toothbrush.
    • Step 4: Rinse thoroughly with water and dry off as much as you can with either a towel, hair drier (on cold setting), or by leaving it somewhere warm like next to your radiator or heater!
      Tips & tricks: If you get the “stainless steel retainers then buy one that comes with a little tool to help you brush it.

Denture cleaner will also work, or boiling it in water but DO NOT USE BLEACH! Bleach makes them rust, and then they turn the color of your braces which isn’t very pretty. If you can’t find online where to buy stainless steel retainers, try Google searching ‘braces’ and looking through the first link that comes up because usually, the first two pages are all jewelry/retainer companies.

Also, suppose you have rubber bands for your retainer. In that case, I suggest wrapping them around either an old needle/safety pin, safety pinhead (the pointy part), pencil eraser, or something similar, so there’s less chance of getting bitten by one.

Rubber Retainer:


    • Rubber band
    • Tweezers or falt objects
    • Toothpaste
    • Hydrogen peroxide
    • Warm Water

Rubber retainers can get moldy and gross very quickly. If they do, you must clean them as soon as possible.

tips to clean retainers



Slide the rubber band over one of the prongs on the retainer. This way, you won’t lose your rubber band while working with it! It also makes the job a lot easier by giving you another hand to work with.
Using a tweezer or flat object (such as a chopstick), scrape off any visible food residue from the retainer.

After this, using a toothbrush dipped in hydrogen peroxide, scrub out any leftover pieces of hard food particles. Make sure to be gentle with your retainer, as you don’t want to damage it.
Rinse off the hydrogen peroxide using warm water. You can also dip it in mouthwash for 5 seconds– this will give it a better shine! Let them dry on a paper towel, and they’ll be good to use again!

Bottom Line:

Whether you’re new to wearing retainer-style appliances or have been using them for years, certain habits will help ensure their longevity and effectiveness. Cleaning your retainers regularly is one of the most important things you can do to keep yours in good working order.

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