Admit it–if you’ve ever worn a retainer or clear aligner there have definitely been times when you’ve noticed strange odors or unsettling build-up on it, no matter how well you’ve rinsed or brushed it. But it’s not your fault. Retainers are full of nooks and crannies that can be hard to clean, so it’s a good idea to look for a cleaner that’s specifically made to handle that task.
But there are a lot of different options when it comes to retainer cleaners, so it can be hard to pick through them to find what will work for you. In this guide, we’ll go over the factors you should consider when choosing a retainer cleaner that’s right for you. At the end, we’ve also got a list of our 10 favorites to help you get started.
How to Choose a Retainer Cleaner – Buying Guide
When your retainer is dirty, that can make you really not want to wear it, which might affect your teeth alignment if it goes on for long enough. So it’s important to find a retainer cleaner that fits in with your lifestyle and that you’ll actually use.
What is It Compatible With?
Many people think that denture cleaners can also be used to clean retainers, and that’s true–sometimes. Denture cleaners that require scrubbing are usually too abrasive for retainers and could scratch them. Instead, look for cleaners that signify they’re made with retainers in mind to prevent any accidental damage.
As for differences between retainers, most retainer cleaners work well for both clear plastic tray retainers as well as the ones with the metal bar. As with the denture cleaners though, be sure to read the box to make sure that it’s compatible as some application types are more difficult to use on one type versus another.
Pick a Type Based on Convenience
There are a few different types of retainer cleaners, and which one will be best for you largely depends on what’s the most convenient for you.
For Hands Off Soaking, Look for Tablets, Powders, and Concentrates
Tablets and powders are probably the most common. These require you to mix them with water and soak your retainer for up to 15 minutes before rinsing them off. They’re easy to travel with and take up very little space.
Concentrated pastes are also available and work in much the same way. However, you do have to be sure to remove them after the specified time, especially if the solution is on the stronger side.
For a Faster but More Hands-On Cleaning, Look for Sprays, Pastes, and Wipes
Sprays, pastes, and wipes are a less common and more involved than tablets and powders but tend to work faster. With sprays, you spray your retainer, let it set for a few minutes, and give it a quick brushing before rinsing it off.
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.
Wipes probably require the least amount of fuss. Simply use it to wipe down your retainer and rinse. Naturally, they’re very easy to travel with.
Avoid Persulfates, if Possible
Persulfates are one of the main ingredients in many retainer and denture cleaners, but some people have issues with sensitivities and allergies. Should you be sensitive to it, it can lead to issues like sensitive gums, hives, and breathing problems.
While this can largely be avoided by rinsing your retainer thoroughly after cleaning it, you might also want to consider just getting a cleaner without persulfates for peace of mind.
Top 10 Best Retainer Cleaners to Buy Online
Now that you know what to look for, here are our 10 favorites to help you get started on your search.
10. Retainer Brite Cleaning Tablets (120 Tablets)
Convenient Tablets for Everyday Use
This cleaner comes in tablet form for easy portability and storage. It kills 99.9% of bacteria and can clean basically every dental appliance that goes into your mouth.
However, it isn’t as powerful as some other cleaners, though that makes it better for daily use. On top of that, you need to soak it for 15 minutes and 15 minutes only, which can make for an awkward time period that allows for forgetting.
9. Avistar Retainer & Denture Cleaning Tablets (150 Tablets)
5 Months of Easy-to-Pack Cleaning
This pack of 150 individually wrapped, crumble-resistant tablets will last you nearly half a year of everyday use no matter where you are. It leaves your mouth feeling extra fresh and uses peppermint oil for a minty finish.
However, aside from persulfates, this cleaner also includes artificial coloring (indigo), so if you’re sensitive to colorants, this might not be the best product for you.
8. Smile Again Retainer Cleaner and Disinfectant (22 Packets)
Candida-Killing Solution that Lasts for More Than a Week
This cleaner is particularly good at killing common mouth bacteria including candida. Each packet contains a powder that you add to water to create a cleaning solution that’s good for up to 10 days of soaking, which can be more convenient for some.
However, some people may not like the idea of reusing the same solution for several days in a row. This setup is also not ideal for those who travel often.
7. OAP Cleaner (1.5 oz)
Foaming Cleaner that Works in One Minute
This foam cleaner kills 99.9% of germs in just one minute, making it easy to fit into your schedule. It contains no persulfates and is very effective. It does require some brushing though.
This retainer cleaner can technically work for any kind of retainer, but because you need to let the foam sit on the surface you want it to clean, it’s easiest for clear tray retainers.
6. WhiteFoam Clear Retainer Cleaner (1.7 oz)
No Soaking or Rinsing Required
This cleaner uses hydrogen peroxide to sanitize your clear aligners while simultaneously adding a little bit of whitening power to your teeth. You don’t need to soak or rinse, simply apply, wear, and go.
Reviewers note that while it doesn’t really whiten your teeth, it does do a great job of keeping your retainer feeling fresh all day and preventing any unwanted odors.
5. Fresh Guard Soak Crystals (24 Packets)
Convenient Powder for Retainer Nooks and Crannies
This cleaning powder is great at cleaning the small nooks and crannies in your retainer and works within five minutes. The pre-portioned packets are easy to travel with, and you don’t have to worry about crushing or spilling.
However, reviewers note that it does have a rather strong odor and that you should definitely rinse well before putting your retainer in your mouth after cleaning.
4. Regent Labs Kleenite Multipurpose Dental Cleanser (9 oz)
Adjust Amount and Time Based on Cleaning Needs
This retainer cleaner comes as a large container of powdery crystals that you measure out by the capful. It is gentle enough to leave your retainer in overnight if needed but cleans very efficiently even when soaking for just 10 minutes.
While it may not be the easiest product to travel with, the measure yourself system makes it easy to adjust the amount added depending on how heavy your stains are.
3. DentaSOAK Mouthpiece, Retainer, Denture, & Appliance Cleaner (13 Packets)
Gentle, Non-Toxic Week-Long Cleaner
This cleaner comes as a set of powder and liquid that you mix together and use for up to a week. It contains only gentle, non-toxic ingredients and cleans efficiently.
However, it might leave a slight blue tinge on clear aligners and some reviewers note that mixing the two packets together does require attention–though you do only have to do it once a week.
|Type||Liquid and Powder|
2. GuardClean Mouthguard, Aligner and Retainer Cleaning Spray (2 oz)
All-Natural Spray Cleaner
This all-natural cleaning spray includes only ingredients that you might also find in foods and plant-based cleansers. It works within two minutes and uses peppermint oil to leave you feeling fresh.
However, it does require some brushing, so it’s a bit more involved than other methods. It’s also a bit on the expensive side compared to other cleaners–one bottle will last between one to two months.
1. Dental Appliance Cleansing Towelettes (100 Count)
Simple, Portable Cleaning Wipes
These cleansing wipes are super easy to use and travel with and require no soaking or waiting–just wipe your retainer and you’re done. Each wipe is textured to allow for a thorough scrubbing of every small crevice.
It is mint flavored and contains no harmful chemicals. However, they are on the expensive side at over $30 per 100 wipes (about three months of once a day use).
How to Properly Clean Your Retainer
Aside from having a good disinfecting retainer cleaner, there are a few other steps you can take to ensure that your retainer isn’t causing bad breath or contributing to gum disease.
Clean your retainer as soon as it comes out of your mouth in order to prevent it from drying out and accumulating debris. If your retainer has metal, be sure not to soak it for too long. Doing so may cause the metal to break down. Don’t use hot water! Water that’s too hot can warp your retainer.
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.
Hopefully picking out a cleaner for your retainer is a bit easier now. The most important thing is that you find something that you actually want to use. Wearing a retainer is a necessary evil you suffer for an indefinite period of time, but that doesn’t mean it has to be unpleasant!
By Jacqueline Oshiro
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