At SportingSmiles, we often get asked by our customers how best to clean their Essix retainers or Invisalign systems. It’s a good question to be asking because cleaning dental retainers is very important. Without proper care and maintenance, the thin material of Essix retainers and Invisalign molds can become brittle. This leads to perishing and cracking. That’s why we thought we would put together a little how-to article to properly guide you through the cleaning and maintenance regime. These instructions are designed for clear Essix retainers, but can also be used for Invisalign clear retainers.
Cleaning your clear Essix or Invisalign retainers
- Firstly, you want to thoroughly rinse the retainers in luke-warm water. Hot water will damage the retainer over time. Never rinse your retainers or Invisalign with an alcohol-based mouthwash. The mouthwash will dry out the material of the retainer and cause cracking and weak spots.
- Next, using a soft-bristle toothbrush and a non-abrasive toothpaste, brush the guard softly and thoroughly. While brushing the guard, you want to be careful not to crack the retainer. This can occur when you apply uneven pressure by holding the retainer in one hand and brushing the other side. A good way to keep the pressure even is to cup the retainer in your other hand while cleaning or place it on a flat surface covered with a soft towel. This type of cleaning should be done regularly with your retainer.
Don’t reach for the mouthwash on the counter to soak your Essix retainer in. While it may give your retainer a nice minty taste, most mouthwashes contain alcohol that can dry out your retainer material, making it prone to cracking and breaking!
For a deep clean we recommend using Fresh Guard soak. It’s made by Efferdent and can be found at most drug stores and large department stores. It’s normally less than $10 for 24 packets and there always seems to be printable coupons online.
After you brush your retainers, you want to pour one of the fresh guard packets into a cup of warm water and wait for it to dissolve. Once fully dissolved, place your retainers in the solution for about 5 minutes. You will know the cleaning process is over once the Fresh Guard changes from a blue color to clear. When the solution turns clear, remove the retainers right away. Don’t leave the retainers in the solution for longer than ten minutes, or you risk damaging the retainers. After removing, rinse thoroughly and your retainer should be clear and clean. You only need to deep clean your retainers like this once every two weeks or so.
How Not to Clean
- As stated above, never soak your retainers in mouthwash. Mouthwash contains alcohol. The alcohol will dry out the retainer and damage it.
- Don’t use diluted bleach water to wash or soak your retainers. We have heard about people using this method and it’s not good for the retainers and can permanently give them a bleach taste, which nobody wants!