How to Clean a Retainer

Did you know that your retainer can get dirty? Most patients don’t think about the fact that their retainers can get food particles and other substances stuck in them. Many patients have shown retainer stains that are discolored (brown is the biggest culprit), and not to mention, a really bad smell. While these retainers won’t hurt and will still function, cleaning should be performed as soon as possible if a patient has noticed any stain or odor.

Remove the retainer from your mouth properly

  • If you wear a retainer to correct your bite, you have to clean it regularly. This will keep it in good condition and prevent plaque build-up that can cause cavities.
  • If you wear a retainer for cosmetic reasons or to straighten your teeth, you’ll still want to clean it regularly for the same reasons.
  • Remove the retainer from your mouth properly
  • Sit up straight and open your mouth wide.
  • Gently pull on the end of the wire until it’s loose in your mouth, then push gently against the wire with your tongue until it pops out of place. Don’t try to force it out with your fingers. You could damage your gums if you do so.

Inspect the retainer for stains and other marks

A retainer is a device that is worn by patients who have had orthodontic treatment to maintain the results of their treatment. Retainers are made of metal or plastic, and they are worn at night to hold the teeth in place. If the retainer is not cleaned regularly, it can become dirty and may require removal by a dentist or dental hygienist.

  • Inspect the retainer for stains and other marks. Check for any cracks or damage that could compromise its effectiveness as a treatment device.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before handling your retainer, especially if you have been wearing it during the day.

Clean the retainer with hot water and dish soap or toothpaste

Toothpaste is a good cleaning agent for retainers. Put the retainer in a small cup of hot water and add a drop of toothpaste. Let it sit for about 30 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with warm water.

Note: You should never use abrasive cleaners on your retainers because they can damage them.

Scrub your retainer with a soft-bristled brush

  • Once you’ve removed your retainers, they should be cleaned daily.
  • Use a soft-bristled brush or toothbrush and toothpaste to scrub them clean.
  • Make sure to get in between the wires and around the edges where food builds up and bacteria can grow.
  • If you’re not wearing your retainer every day, soak it in mouthwash or baking soda before wearing again
  • If you have an acrylic retainer, soak it overnight in a mixture of equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide (3% solution). Don’t use this solution on wire retainers because it will weaken the wires over time.

Soak your retainer in denture cleaner overnight

Retainers are a great way to keep your teeth in place after braces or Invisalign. But over time, the plastic can get stained and the metal wires can rust. You may also notice that your retainer has an odor after you’ve been wearing it for several days.

Here’s how to clean a retainer:

  • Soak your retainer in denture cleaner overnight. If your retainer is made of plastic, soak it in warm water with some baking soda added to it. Rinse it off and dry it before putting it back in your mouth.
  • Brush your retainer with an old toothbrush and toothpaste once or twice a week to remove plaque and debris that has accumulated on the surface of the device.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before handling your retainer because bacteria from them could colonize on the surface of your device and cause an infection if left unchecked (don’t forget to wash again after cleaning).

Ask your dentist for other options

  • If you wear a retainer, you know how important it is to keep it clean. Your dentist can tell you how to clean your retainer and give you some tips on how to keep it fresh. But if your dentist isn’t available, here are some ways to clean your retainer:
  • Ask your dentist for other options. You may not have the option of boiling or soaking an acrylic retainer in water. But there are other methods that work well for this material.
  • Ask your dentist for suggestions about cleaning the retainer in a dishwasher, or putting it in an ultrasonic cleaner. These methods are safe and effective for people who wear retainers made of the same type of materials they use at home.
  • Ask your dentist if there are any other ways you can clean your retainer at home without damaging it.
  • Use toothpaste and water only when needed. If you’re concerned about bacteria growth, add a small amount of baking soda or hydrogen peroxide to the toothpaste before brushing with it on your retainer. This will help get rid of germs in between teeth without damaging the plastic material that holds them together

Use a special cleaner

If you’re concerned about how well regular toothpaste cleans your retainer and whether it will be safe for the device, ask your dentist if he or she can prescribe a special retainer cleaner for you.

This type of product is designed specifically for cleaning retainers and contains an active ingredient that helps break down plaque and other debris from your teeth and gums. It’s also made with ingredients that won’t cause harm if they get into your mouth while wearing the appliance.

The only downside is that many of these special cleaners aren’t available over-the-counter at pharmacies or grocery stores so before using them, check with your doctor


The best bet would be to go to a dentist in person and get them to show you how you can remove and clean the retainer. You should never use soda or toothpaste on your retainer because if you are not careful, it will cause the plastic to erode and it will become unsafe for use. If you do this incorrectly, you may need a replacement for your retainer, which will cost money. It is in your best interest to learn how to handle your retainer properly.