An in-depth guide to deep cleaning your teeth retainers at home
Searching for the best ways to give your clear retainer a deep clean and better understand the importance of keeping your dental products clean? You’ve come to the right place! Sporting Smiles has conducted extensive research into the matter of cleaning plastic retainers and has come away with recommending a few different methods depending on the preference of the wearer. We’ve put these methods to use and tested them out ourselves, so we can be confident when recommending them.
Giving your essix retainer a deep clean doesn’t need to be a chore or time consuming when you understand what you are doing. There is a lot of miss information online and outdated methods being promoted between dental offices and orthodontists. Our information is based on first-hand experiments and clinical studies to present you with the most accurate and up-to-date methods to clean your retainer.
How Often Should I Clean My Retainer
We get this question a lot. Many people wonder how often they should be cleaning their retainer and dental products. There are two different types of purifying that you should get into the routine of doing. The first is a simple clean that should occur each day/night after the plastic retainer is removed from your mouth. You’ll want to purchase a soft bristle toothbrush. These toothbrushes have bristles that are flexible and are very fine as opposed to hard bristles which can damage the retainer or create micro-scratches when scrubbed too hard. Fortunately, soft bristle toothbrushes are common and inexpensive. You can find them starting at $1, or if you’d like to purchase luxury brand soft bristle toothbrushes they’ll cost around $12.
You’ll want the soft bristle toothbrush not only for your daily cleaning of the clear retainer but also for your deep cleaning, so you’ll get a lot of use out of the brush. We recommend replacing it once every six months. Daily use of the brush will wear down the bristles making them less effective in cleaning your clear plastic retainer.
Next, you’ll want to pair your soft bristle toothbrush with an anti-bacterial unscented soap. These soaps are alcohol-free, so they won’t dry out your retainer. Unscented is recommended, so your plastic retainer doesn’t come away smelling like roses or exotic fruits. These liquid soaps are common and can be found online or at any convenience store. They typically cost between $3 and $10 depending on size and brand.
How To Daily Clean My Retainer
Now that you’re equipped with a soft bristle toothbrush and anti-bacterial liquid soap, you’re ready to give your clear plastic retainer its daily cleaning. After removing the retainer from your mouth, you’ll want to rinse it under warm water for 30 seconds, be sure not to have the water too hot as it can affect the soft material inside your retainer. Squeeze a small amount of the anti-bacterial soap onto your soft bristle toothbrush and begin gently scrubbing your essix retainer. Keep scrubbing for about a minute and, make sure to scrub both the inside and outside of the retainer. After scrubbing for a minute, rinse your essix retainer under the warm water making sure that all soap residue is removed from the dental product.
Pro Tip: One of the most common ways of cracking your retainer is during the cleaning process. Cup your retainer in your palm or place it on a towel to help prevent it from cracking during the cleaning process.
Shake the plastic retainer dry to remove moisture from it before placing it back into the retainer storage case. It’s best to shake the clear retainer dry instead of using a towel or cloth, which can leave fuzzies or tiny strands inside the essix retainer. This one to two-minute process should become a daily cleaning routine for retainer wearers to ensure that the retainer is receiving proper care and basic cleaning. Sanitizing your retainer will help expand the life span of the clear retainer saving you money in the long run.
In the past, and still sometimes today, dentists and orthodontics instruct their patients to clean their clear retainers with toothpaste. Recent research has discovered that because toothpaste is abrasive meaning they are gritty, the texture of the paste can create micro-scratches on the retainers, which become breeding grounds for bacteria. Micro-scratches are permanent and will create the “cloudy” look on your clear retainer. This is why Sporting Smiles advises against using toothpaste and anything other than a soft bristle brush when cleaning your retainer.
What are the yellow and white spots on my retainer?
You’re not alone if you happen to notice yellow and white spots growing on your retainer. It’s a fairly common problem with clear plastic retainers but, thankfully, there’s a simple solution. These yellow and white spots that grow on your retainers are the result of your body depositing minerals into your saliva. What are the minerals in your saliva? Good question. Common minerals deposited from your body include tartar which is hardened calcium carbonate and plaque which is a biofilm that engulfs around your teeth. Both can cause yellow or white spots on your essix retainers without proper deep cleaning.
How To Clean Your Retainer With Retainer Cleaning Tablets
A popular myth on cleaning clear plastic retainers involves both Polident Denture Tablets or Efferdent Denture Tablets. These cleaning tablets are meant for dentures and not essix retainers. They are two different dental products, each with its unique ways to be cleaned. Polident Tablets and Efferdent Tablets each have persulfates in them, which is a chemical we don’t recommend on retainers.
The good news is that there are retainer cleaning tablets. You can purchase these tablets at an affordable price ranging between $6 to $14 depending on the brand and size of the box. In our testing, Sporting Smiles used both Retainer Brite Cleaning Tablets and Fresh Guard Cleaning Tablets to clean our retainers when conducting this research.
How To Clean Your Retainer With Fresh Guard Soak Solution
You’ll want to rinse your plastic retainer off in a stream of warm water, but make sure the water isn’t too hot, or else it can affect the soft materials in the clear essix retainer. Tear open the packet and pour the solution into the warm water. The solution will foam up and turn blue signaling that it’s ready for the retainer sanitation. Place your retainer fully submerged into the retainer cleaning solution for five minutes. Do not soak your retainer for more than ten minutes.
After five minutes, remove the retainer and softly brush it with your soft-bristle toothbrush rubbing the solution from the container on it. Scrub the clear retainer for about a minute before washing it under a stream of warm water. Make sure to discard the solution after using it as it’s only good for one-time use.
With the retainer has been fully washed, shake dry to remove any water or moisture. Place your retainer back into the retainer storage case.
Estimated Time: 7 Minutes
The final solution for Retainer Cleaning Tablets that Sporting Smiles used is Retainer Brite Cleaner. This is a great cleaner that can be used on clear retainers, aligners, wire retainers, sports mouthguards, and night guards. It can sometimes be difficult to find in stores and may be a little expensive, but it’s the premier retainer cleaning solution.
Take a warm glass of water and drop one tablet into the water. The water will begin to bubble in a blue solution signifying that it’s ready to cleanse your retainer. Place your retainer fully submerged into the solution and let it soak for 15 minutes. If you have a wired retainer, we advise you not to let it soak longer than 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove your retainer and wash it under running water for a minute. Retainer Cleaning Tablets are a great way to remove retainer stink, retainer smells, and retainer yellow or white spots. Pairing an ultra-sonic cleaning machine with retainer cleaning tablets is a great way to ensure a thorough cleaning.
Estimated Time: 17 Minutes
How To Clean Your Retainer Naturally
Maybe chemical solutions aren’t your thing, and you’re looking for natural ways to clean your clear retainers. You’re in the right place, we have a few natural cleaning solutions for your retainer that involve common ingredients that you probably already have in your home.
Our first natural solution is cleaning your retainer with vinegar. You can disinfect your clear retainer with white vinegar or you can clean your retainer with apple vinegar. Sporting Smiles did both, and we’ll discuss the results and instructions. Natural cleaning your retainer with vinegar is quite simple. You can purchase white vinegar for between $2 and $4 at your local supermarket. Have a clean glass container and fill it halfway with warm water. Pour vinegar into the water to make a 50/50 solution. Place your retainer into the natural cleaning solution and let it soak for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, remove your retainer from the natural cleaning solution and wash thoroughly. Vinegar is great for natural sanitizing retainers but can leave the retainer with a strong odor or weird taste, so wash your retainer for two minutes in warm running water and scrub with a clean soft-bristled toothbrush gently.
Estimated Time: 23 Minutes
Sporting Smiles also cleaned a retainer with Apple Cider Vinegar. Follow the same steps as you would for regular vinegar, but Apple Cider Vinegar will leave your retainer with less of a harsh smell. You’ll still want to run the retainer under water and gently scrub it for two minutes after soaking, but the smell should be noticeable less potent.
Estimated Time: 23 Minutes
Vinegar can be a harsh smell, and if you don’t want to deal with it you can use Baking Soda to clean your retainer. Baking Soda is a common kitchen ingredient and is often used to prevent or remove bad smells in the fridge. Removing the stink or bad smells from your retainer is easier when using Baking Soda. You can purchase Baking Soda from your local supermarket for less than a dollar.
Take a clean container or glass and fill it with 3/4 cups of warm water. Next, take two tablespoons of Baking Soda and sprinkle it into the water. You’ll see a cloudy solution start to form, feel free to stir for 10 seconds to make the Baking Soda mix better. Once properly mixed, place your stinky retainer into the natural cleaning solution and let it soak for 20 to 30 minutes.
After the time has passed remove your retainer from the natural cleaning solution and rinse under warm running water for a minute. You will have yourself a naturally deep cleansed retainer that is odor-free.
Estimated Time: 22-32 Minutes
Our last natural cleaning solution for your retainers involves castile soap. Castile soap originated in Europe and was originally made with olive oil. It can now be made with Hemp Oils, Coconut, and other natural ingredients, but it remains animal-free and 100 percent vegan. The soap comes in both bar and liquid form, but to disinfect your retainer we recommend the liquid form. It can be purchased online or at a supermarket for around $10 depending on the size of the bottle.
You’ll want a clean glass filled with warm water. Mix in a small amount of castile soap and gently stir for 30 seconds. Place your retainers into the natural cleaning solution and let it soak for between five and ten minutes. After the time is up, remove your retainer and gently brush them with the soft bristle toothbrush for a minute using the same solution from the glass. Once completely scrubbed, run your retainers under warm water to rinse the solution off. Keep under the water for a minute before placing your purified retainers into the retainer storage case.
Estimated Time: 8-13 Minutes
When you are traveling or on the run and need a quick intense cleansing of your retainers, Sporting Smiles recommends cleaning your retainer with foaming spray. This method is not to be used as a deep cleaning method, but one that can quickly clean your retainer moderately when you are on vacation. You can purchase a foaming spray online for around $15. Make sure that the cleaning spray is specifically meant for retainers and not other household items like a sink or toilet.
Take your retainers out of the storage case and place them on a plate or in a bowl. Spray all sides of the retainer including the inside, and watch as the cleaning solution foams up. This method shouldn’t take longer than a minute which makes it ideal for vacations or when you are in a hurry. Again, this retainer cleaning treatment isn’t meant to replace the deep cleaning soaks.
Estimated Time: 3-4 Minutes
Worst Methods To Sanitize Your Retainer
We’ve discussed the best-tested methods of cleaning your retainer including cleaning tablets, and natural solutions. Now, let’s go over misconceptions or dangerous products that have been used before to clean retainers that are considered ineffective or even dangerous.
- Hand Sanitizers – Great for your hands and killing bacteria, but terrible for your plastic clear retainers. Hand Sanitizers contain alcohol, and that alcohol will dry out your retainers making them brittle and susceptible to cracking.
- Rubbing Alcohol – You may be tempted to sanitize your clear retainers with rubbing alcohol after removing nail polish, but like the hand sanitizer the alcohol will severely dry out your retainers weakening them and possibly cracking easier.
- Boiling Water – We mentioned a few times in the approved methods to cleaning your retainer that boiling water is a terrible idea. Clear plastic retainers are made from essix, and that material can change under extreme conditions from heat. If your retainers are boiled then it may distort the shape of your retainer rendering them useless in protecting your teeth from shifting. Some cases even see the retainers becoming droopy.
- Toothpaste – It’s tempting to put your toothpaste on your toothbrush and start scrubbing your retainers but don’t. Toothpaste is abrasive and gritty and when scrubbed onto retainers can cause micro-scratches. These micro-scratches are much tougher to clean making them a perfect place for bacteria to grow in your retainer.
- Salt Water – Disinfecting your retainer with salt water may seem like a smart idea, but in reality, it will just give your retainer a salty taste. The salt won’t properly dissolve the bacteria or yellow and white spots in your clear retainer.
- Ultrasonic Machines – These machines vibrate and pulsate into your retainers when the retainer is under the cleaning solution. They help knock off bacteria and other foreign objects on your retainers, but they aren’t necessary to give your retainer a deep clean. If you have one, feel free to use it, but they haven’t required equipment for deep cleaning your retainer.
- Mouthwash – Sterilizing your retainer with Mouthwash is a common mistake that retainer wearers make. The alcohol in the mouthwash will dry out the retainer and make them brittle.
- Hydrogen-Peroxide – Cleansing your retainer with hydrogen-peroxide will help sterilize the retainer from bacteria, but the solution won’t dissolve the natural minerals that your body deposits in your saliva, like calcium.
How Do You Clean Retainers?
Answer: Sporting Smiles recommends cleaning your retainers with a safe natural solution or retainer cleaning solutions.
What Can I Soak My Retainer In To Disinfect It?
Answer: Sporting Smiles recommends warm water mixed with cleaning tablets like Retainer Brite, or cleaning solutions like Fresh Guard. If you want a safe natural cleaning, mix vinegar, baking soda, or castile soap with water.
How Often Should You Clean Your Retainer?
Answer: A light cleaning should be daily while a deep cleaning should occur 2-3 times a week.
What Is The Best Retainer Cleaner?
Answer: That answer is up to you. Select from our approved methods and find what solution works best for your budget, time, and schedule.
How Long Should You Cleanse Your Retainer?
Answer: The time it takes to deep cleanse your retainer varies based on the method you are using. Cleaning tablets take between 5-10 minutes, while natural solutions like vinegar, baking soda, or castile soap can take 15-30 minutes.
In conclusion, Sporting Smiles recommends that when giving your retainer a deep cleaning with either cleaning tablets or natural solutions, that you use a soft bristle toothbrush too. Soaking a retainer will help dissolve bacteria, but it won’t fully remove it. With a soft bristle toothbrush make sure to gently scrub the retainer after its soak to fully remove the microorganisms that have accumulated in your dental product.
Sporting Smiles Replacement Retainers
Has your retainer gone past the point of no return with bacteria and stink? Do you need a replacement retainer(s)? Sporting Smiles in the No. 1 premier online store for custom at-home DIY dental products. Our essix-plus retainers is our No. 1 seller with over one million customers across the United States. Order our impression kit online, return your impressions, and our experienced dental lab technicians will craft a perfect fitting retainer for you. Save hundreds of dollars with these online retainer replacements, skip the dentist, and relax at home while your high-quality retainers come to you.