Keeping your retainers clean is so important for the health of your smile!
DAILY : Each morning, use a small bit of non-abrasive toothpaste (regular, non-whitening) brush your retainers with a very soft bristle toothbrush. This will help keep your retainer clean, but it will not kill the harmful bacteria and won't prevent white plaque buildup unless you brush the retainer extremely thoroughly every single time. If you have a clear Invisalign aligner tray or a clear retainer, brushing with a toothbrush is not recommended, as it will put small scratches onto your retainer, which will eventually turn it cloudy. Never use baking soda to clean your retainer, because it is too abrasive and will scratch it (also, baking soda does not kill germs).
WEEKLY: 1-3 times per week, use a cleaner discussed below
PROFESSIONAL AND HOME OPTIONS FOR CLEANING YOUR RETAINER:
Vinegar and Water Soak - Full strength white vinegar works best. Soak it for 1 hour to all day. Then brush your retainer gently with a soft bristle toothbrush, and rinse it thoroughly in warm water. Vinegar does have some germ-killing capabilities, but the disadvantage of this method is that your retainer will not taste or smell very good afterwards. So you may soak it in some mouthrinse to get rid of the vinegar taste.
Hydrogen Peroxide and Water Soak – Mix equal amounts of warm tap water and 3% hydrogen peroxide, and soak your retainer for at least 30 minutes. Then rinse thoroughly with warm water. Hydrogen peroxide will kill some bacteria, and it gets rid of most of the white tarter build-up. Additionally, it makes yellowed retainers much more clear again.
Mouthwash Soak – You can dilute equal parts of mouthwash and water to temporarily make your retainer smell fresh and kill some of the bacteria. However, mouthwash usually contains some amount of alcohol, which can be harmful to the plastic of your retainer. It's OK to soak your retainers in mouthwash occasionally, but regular soaking in mouthwash could harm your retainer.
Denture Tablets Soak – This method is not recommended. Denture tablets are not formulated for retainers, and will eventually turn your retainer yellow. It's OK to use them in a pinch once in a while, but continual use will not be good for your retainers.
PROFESSIONAL RETAINER CLEANING PRODUCTS
Retainer Brite – Retainer Brite is an effervescing (fizzy) tablet which kills the bacteria on your retainer and helps prevent white tarter buildup. Each tablet is individually foil-sealed, so it's easy to take Retainer Brite with you to the office or on a trip. Just drop one tablet into warm tap water and soak your retainer or aligner tray for 15 minutes. Then rinse it thoroughly with warm water. Optionally, you can use a cordless sonic cleaner, which helps drive the product into all the tiny crevices of your retainer for an even more thorough cleaning. If you already have white tarter buildup on your retainer, Retainer Brite might not get it off. It is best for preventing the tarter buildup with daily cleaning. Available at Amazon, Walmart, CVS & Walgreens.
DentaSoak – This is one of the few “cold water” retainercleaners on the market. You mix it once and use the soaking solution for an entire week. It's great for cleaning any type of retainer, aligner tray, or dental appliance. A 15 minute soaking in DentaSoak kills bacteria. It also removes stubborn white tarter buildup after several uses. And, if you're concerned about allergies, DentaSoak does not contain Persulfates. DentaSoak comes with its own special mixing cup and is great for anyone who doesn't want to mix a new cleaning solution every time. Available at Walmart & Amazon.