If you’re sporting a beautiful new smile after all of that hard work you put into your braces or Invisalign® treatment, you’ll surely want to keep that smile for the rest of your life! But how do you do that?
To retain your smile, maintain your retainer. It’s a bit of a tongue-twister, but it’s true! If you take care of your retainer, it will take care of you.
Retainers need regular care and maintenance to be able to support your beautiful new smile. Let’s dive into proper retainer care and explore these topics:
- How to clean retainers using safe household products
- Should you use a denture cleaner for retainers?
- How to take care of a dirty retainer
- Removing plaque on a retainer
- How often should you clean your retainer?
How to Clean Your Retainer
We recommend you clean your retainer every time you clean your teeth… which is hopefully twice a day. It’s a good idea to do a deep clean once a week, too, by soaking your retainer in a disinfecting solution. (Keep reading to learn about different soaking solutions!)
How to Clean Retainers with Vinegar
Vinegar is one of the most effective ways to clean a dirty retainer and remove hardened plaque. If you’re in the unfortunate situation of wondering how to remove mold on a retainer, white vinegar is safe – and it’s something most people already have in their kitchen!
- Combine equal parts of distilled white vinegar and water in a small bowl.
- Soak your retainer in the solution for about 20 minutes.
- Thoroughly rinse your retainer in lukewarm water, then you can pop it back in your mouth!
Cleaning your retainer immediately when you remove it from your mouth and not storing your retainer while it’s wet will prevent mold from building up in the first place.
How to Get Rid of Plaque on a Retainer
It’s easiest to remove plaque from your clear retainer while it’s still soft. Hardened plaque can be difficult to remove! This is why it’s essential that you clean your retainer everyday to prevent plaque from hardening.
The simplest method to remove plaque is to use a mild, non-abrasive, antibacterial soap as a retainer cleaning agent and a soft toothbrush.
To remove plaque from your retainer, start by rinsing off any debris with cold running water. Apply a small amount of retainer cleaner (vinegar solution or antibacterial soap) and use the toothbrush to scrub the inside and outside of the retainer to gently remove the plaque. Rinse off the residue by running the retainer under lukewarm water.
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.
The Bottom Line
If you commit to cleaning your retainer every day, 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, your orthodontist (Dr. Wiewiora or Dr. Dunn) will tell you everything you need to know about keeping your retainer in its best condition—for a lifetime!
Still have questions about keeping your retainer clean?
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions! We love to hear from you. We’re here to guide you through your treatment process, from your very first visit, to your last appointment.