Retainers play a very important role in ensuring that our teeth stay straight and in position after treatment with braces. However, many of you may want to know how to clean clear retainers safely and effectively. Fortunately, we have discovered six different ways that you can use to keep your retainer looking its best and smelling fresh.
1. Mild Detergent and Warm Water
The most important thing to remember when learning how to clean clear retainers is that less is often better. With this in mind, we’re going to start with one of the safest and most effective ways that you can clean your retainers at home.
To start, get a mild dish soap solution. Some common brands to consider are Dawn and Dial. Using a small amount that is the size of a dime or less, apply the solution to your retainer. Use your fingers to begin working up a good lather and apply more water as necessary to continue building it.
Now, use a dedicated toothbrush to help dislodge small bits of foot and remove surface plaque from your retainer. This toothbrush should be different than the one you use for daily brushing. Once you have removed all of the surface debris, rinse your retainer out under warm running water. Make sure that all soap residue is completely removed and allow the retainer to air dry for best results.
2. The Soaking Method
Another tip to consider when you want to understand how to clean clear retainers effectively is known as the soaking method. First and foremost, this method can entirely be avoided by just remembering to clean your retainer while it is still moist from your mouth.
However, everyone who wears a retainer can remember at least a few times where they were just too tired and forgot to clean their retainer on the way out. The result is that you come home and your retainer is covered with food debris and build-up that just doesn’t seem to budge with normal cleaning methods.
The easiest way to fix this is to rely on a similar process that you would use for stubborn dish stains. Using warm water and a few drops of your preferred dish soap, create a bath to leave your retainer in for a couple hours. Just remember to not leave your retainer in this type of dish detergent bath overnight. This can result in bacteria buildup and can also cause foul odors as well.
After a few hours, brush your retainer like normal. The stuck on food debris and other materials should remove quite easily. Consider applying a bit more liquid soap and giving it a final scrub to ensure any tough residues that were remaining are removed before your next use.
3. Tools for Detailing Work
When you are still new and learning how to clean clear retainers, it’s easy to forget about the finer points of detail work. Just as you floss to remove items from deep within your teeth that brushing can’t reach, there are special steps you must take with your retainer.
First, take a closer look at your retainer. Upon closer inspection, you will likely notice that there are dips between each tooth that likely have a bit more build-up than other areas. As you continue to wear your retainer, this build-up will only continue to grow.
To combat this, consider doing a deeper detail cleaning an average of two to three times a week. You can accomplish this by using a small cotton swab to really dig into the connecting areas of the retainer.
For best results, moisten the cotton swab in your preferred cleaning solution. When cleaning, try using a circular motion and alternate it to help remove stubborn particulate. Switch cotton swabs as necessary to ensure that the cleaning tip remains rigid enough to clean effectively.
4. Moving Onto Specialized Cleaning Solutions
Now that you have a basic understanding of how to clean clear retainers, we’re ready to move onto one of the more specialized options that are currently available. If you were to go to your local big box retailer and go to the dental section, you would likely discover a wide range of specially designed crystals and powders for cleaning retainers and clear braces.
These products are typically mixed with warm or cold water. Your retainer is then placed in then placed in the solution for a given amount of time to facilitate disinfection, odor removal, and to help loosen food debris and other particles.
The biggest advantage of these types of products is that they are great for removing surface stains and killing odor-causing bacteria. Some of the most common brands you will see are Retainer Brite, Fresh Guard, and Efferdent.
However, it’s also very important that you talk with your orthodontist first before using these products. Although the various clear retainers all feature similar construction, the exact materials used in each one can be slightly different. This means that one cleaning solution that may be fine for your friend could actually end up damaging your retainer. To prevent this, always make sure your orthodontist is okay with a cleaning solution and that you follow the directions to the letter.
5. Vinegar Solution
A vinegar solution can also be used to effectively clean your clear retainer. Although vinegar has a strong odor on its own, it tends to fade quickly and can help remove lingering odors that tend to build up with retainers.
To create your own solution, mix equal parts of distilled white vinegar and water. You’re now ready to let your retainer soak for 15 to 30 minutes and then clean like normal. However, you should never use baking soda on your retainer. The reason for this is that baking soda is far too coarse and can cause scratches and other surface imperfections.
6. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is commonly used as an oral debridement agent. Due to the way it bubbles, it can help loosen food particles and other mater. To use it effectively, simply mix an equal amount of three percent hydrogen peroxide and water. The next step is to allow your retainer to soak for 30 minutes before cleaning like normal. Hydrogen peroxide also has the added benefit of killing bacteria too.
By following the six tips outlined in our article, you should now have a sound understanding of how to clean clear retainers safely and effectively. Just remember to always discuss any new cleaning method with your orthodontist and to always follow their instructions carefully. If there are any retainer cleaning tips that you have, feel free to post them in the comments area.