How to Clean Retainers & Clear Aligners

One of the most popular questions we get from patients is how to properly clean and care for your retainers and clear aligners. This is especially important for retainers because you need to wear them for life! If not properly cared for, retainers can over time end up discolored or broken and in need of replacement (see image below):

stained and broken aligners

Tips For Retainers:

  1. Clean your retainer every day with a toothbrush and NO Toothpaste. Using toothpaste can discolor as well as roughen the surface and damage the retainer. Dish soap and cold water work well to rinse and clean the retainers.
  2. Deep clean your retainers every other week: Use a 1:1 ratio of white vinegar and water. Soak for 5-10 min depending on the level of plaque and tartar. Scrub gently with a toothbrush and rinse well before inserting.
  3. You can also use retainer tablets such as Retainer Brite (which can be found at amazon). Scrub gently with a toothbrush and rinse well before inserting.
  4. USE YOUR CASE! So many people accidentally sit or step on the retainers. Not to mention accidentally throwing them away! Getting in the habit of using a case will help keep your retainer in good condition. Your retainer case also needs to be cleaned regularly. Clean it once a day before you put the retainer away. You can simply use cold soapy water to gently scrub the surfaces of the case.

One of the nice features of clear aligners is that, because you are changing them every week, they tend to not get as dirty as a retainer can over time. Additionally, Spark Clear Aligners are extremely stain resistant. Nevertheless, it is still important to care for them and keep them clean.

image comparing leading aligner brand and spark aligners

Tips For Clear Aligners:

  1. Make sure to take them out when you eat or drink! Only water is allowed when the aligners are in.
  2. You can clean them with a plain toothbrush - again no toothpaste! You can also use gentle liquid soap with water to clean them.
  3. Make sure to always brush and floss your teeth! Flossing every night is important. However, after eating, you must brush your teeth BEFORE putting in your tray in order to avoid cavities and discoloration of the aligners.
  4. Always rinse your aligners under cold water when you remove them - keeping them moist typically keeps them cleaner.

DON’TS for Retainers and Aligners:

  • Don’t use hot water or boiling water; this can melt or damage your retainers.
  • Don’t use mouthwash or toothpaste to clean your retainers; this will stain them.
  • Don’t put your retainers or aligners in a napkin!! They will get thrown away by accident.
  • Keep them out of reach of pets; dogs love to eat them!
  • Don’t put your retainers or aligners in the dishwasher; this will melt them.
  • Don’t use cleaning wipes for your retainers. These chemicals are dangerous for your retainers and your mouth!
  • Most importantly don’t forget to wear them every night; this is the only way to keep your teeth straight!

If your retainer is broken or older and wearing down, it might be time to get a new one. They are surprisingly affordable and wearing one every night is the only way to protect your teeth from shifting. Schedule your free consultation today to learn more!

We love helping our patients have Healthier, Happier Smiles. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions either via text through our website or by emailing contact@happiersmilesortho.com.

Sincerely,
Dr. Neelab

Dr. Neelab Anwar (“Dr. Nee”) is a Board Certified Orthodontist and the founder of Happier Smiles Orthodontics in San Marcos, California.
Learn more about Dr. Nee