Dental Hygienist Jaeyoung Yoo evaluates what retainers are for and why you need to be careful when taking care of them.
There are three different types of retainers: Hawley retainers, clear plastic retainers (Essix, Vivera, or others), or fixed or bonded retainers. In this article, we will discuss how to keep plastic retainers clean.
After the long journey of orthodontics treatment, your orthodontist will make you a retainer that is needed to retain the shape and position of all your teeth. Some people also have retainers to wear at night to prevent jaw pain from clenching and grinding.
We all have bacteria in our mouths, but we keep our oral health in good shape by flossing and brushing. The retainers hug your teeth tightly, so your teeth can quickly build up bacteria and tartar. These bacteria, or plaque, will get into the grooves and buildup in the retainers while in usage and can lead to strange odors and gunk buildup.
Retainers can also get stained easily. It's important that patients keep their retainers clean for fresher breath and a healthier mouth. Brushing the retainers alone or soaking them in mouthwash will not get rid of the stains and all of the bacteria.
In fact, soaking retainers in mouthwash that contains alcohol can harm your retainers' plastic structure. To effectively remove bacteria and stains in retainers, a retainer cleaner is needed. Another benefit of using a retainer cleaner would be to kill cocci bacteria.
According to a study on Essix retainers, researchers found that tablets were effective at removing Streptococcus bacteria which causes strep throat. Take a look below for suggestions on what kinds of products you can buy to clean your retainers!
Points to Consider:
Just as there are many different types of toothpastes and toothbrushes, there are many different types of retainer cleaners in the market. It can get overwhelming to try to pick the right one.
Hands off soaking, specifically the Brite brand, is my personal favorite option. One trick I have with the tablet is you can break the tabs apart and use them that way. For example, I use half of the Brite tab and soak my retainers in for 20 minutes. This saves money and, from my experience, it cleans just as well as using a whole tablet.
Pastes work much like a less abrasive toothpaste—just add it to your toothbrush and brush down your retainer. For sprays and pastes, how well they travel depends largely on the size.
A less common method to clean retainers would be sprays and wipes, but they work on the spot as a temporary solution.
Persulfates do not belong in the mouth or in the body, but some retainers cleaners have them listed as their main ingredient.
Gum tenderness and tissue damage could occur if persulfates make contact with the mouth or, even worse, if they are swallowed. If you have an allergy to persulfates I would actively look in the ingredient list and make sure that it is not listed.
Here are our top 9 picks for retainer cleaners that come in all different forms. It includes a lot of persulfate-free options, too!
Please note that these products were not picked by Jaeyoung Yoo, but chosen through extensive research and by combing through customer reviews by our staff at mybest. For more on our selection process, check out our editorial policy. Prices were gathered from respective EC sites on September 26, 2022.
Fresh Guard by Efferdent
Mouthguard, Aligner and Retainer Cleaning Spray
Mouthpiece, Retainer, Denture, & Appliance Cleaner
Kleenite Multipurpose Dental Cleanser
Soak for Guards, Retainers & Clear Braces
WhiteFoam Clear Retainer Cleaner
Anti-Bacterial Cleaning Solution
Retainer Cleaner and Disinfectant
Retainer & Denture Cleaning Tablets
Our Best Pick! An All-Natural Spray Cleaner With Peppermint Oil
Gentle, Non-Toxic Week-Long Cleaner
Adjust Amount and Time Based on Cleaning Needs
Convenient Powder for Retainer Nooks and Crannies
No Soaking or Rinsing Required for Easy Cleaning
Foaming Cleaner That Works in Just One Minute!
Candida-Killing Solution That Lasts for More Than a Week
5 Months of Easy-To-Pack Cleaning
Convenient Tablets for Everyday Use
|Amount||2 oz.||13 packets||9 oz.||24 packets||1.69 fl. oz.||1.5 fl. oz.||22 packets||150 tablets||120 tablets|
|Compatibility||All||All||All||All||Clear aligners & retainers||Clear aligners||All||All||All|
|Type||Spray||Liquid and powder||Powder||Powder||Foam||Foam||Powder||Tablets||Tablets|
|Type||Liquid and powder|
|Amount||1.69 fl. oz.|
|Compatibility||Clear aligners & retainers|
|Amount||1.5 fl. oz.|
Try to keep your retainer wet at all times when it’s out of your mouth–allowing it to dry out can compromise the plastic. Finally, don’t forget to clean your case regularly. Even if your retainer is clean, if it’s in a dirty case you’re still exposing it to germs.
Definitely avoid using hot water since it can change the shape and elasticity of the plastic retainer. As for cleaning and gunk out of the retainers right away when it comes out of your mouth, that will help to keep its longevity. Make sure that retainers are not dried out with stains and bacteria on them!
Orthodontists recommend that you clean your retainers every week when it's new. After a couple of weeks, it is recommended that retainers are cleaned using retainer cleaner products every few days.
Always read the instructions on these products. Retainers can be worn down from daily wear, clenching, grinding, and, depending on the amount of pressure and force that is put on it, they may need to be replaced every six months to a few years.
For patients who have just finished their orthodontics treatment, it's recommended that retainers are worn for the whole day for at least three months straight to create a rigid bone structure. Once the bone structure is more rigid, patients can then wear it only nightly.
If not done so, teeth will shift back to their original structure. Having more than one retainer case can help keep them clean. Some people may forget their case and end up wrapping it in napkins or paper towels which will be easier to accidentally throw away than having it in an actual case, so be very careful.
You can't always have a clean retainer on hand, so here are some options to keep that halitosis at bay all day long.
This expert reviewed the contents of the buying guide for accuracy and provided factual corrections when necessary. They did not participate in the product selection process, nor are they affiliated with any of our choices unless explicitly stated so.
Author: Jacqueline Oshiro
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