HERE AT PMA DENTAL CARE GRAVESEND KENT one question we get asked many times by patients with orthodontic retainers or Invisalign aligners is “How do I clean my retainer or aligner?” So here’s our advice.

Cleaning Retainers

It is very important to clean your retainer or aligner properly to avoid bacterial buildup that could ruin your retainer and even make you ill. You need to clean your retainers or Invisalign aligners EVERY DAY to keep them clear and germ-free.


There are many home methods you can use and special products you can buy at the practice. Products, such as Retainer Brite, work well for all retainers, Invisalign trays and other dental appliances. If you have a special retainer that has parts that are soldered on, you must be use caution when soaking it. Some retainer soaking solutions can corrode metal solder over time.

A new retainer can be expensive so it is worthwhile keeping it clean and germ free.

Does your retainer smell?

If it does this means odour causing bacteria have built up. Cleaning the retainer every single day will help prevent this bad smell, as well as potential illness caused by putting a dirty appliance into your mouth!

Is your retainer covered in a hard white film?

This white film is plaque (bacteria) is the same stuff you brush off your teeth . If left on the retainer or aligner it can harden up to become tart that is virtually impossible to clean off.

Professional Retainer Cleaning Products

cleaning braces retainers

Retainer Brite is an effervescing (fizzy) tablet that will disinfect the bacteria on your retainer and helps prevent white plaque buildup. Each tablet is individually foil-sealed, so it’s easy to take Retainer Brite with you to if you are travelling. Just drop one tablet into warm tap water and soak your retainer or aligner tray for 15 minutes. Rinse it thoroughly with warm water afterwards. If you already have a white buildup on your retainer, Retainer Brite might not get it off. It is best for preventing the plaque buildup with daily use. Boxes are available that provide for one or three months supply.

Home Cleaning Methods

There are several inexpensive methods for cleaning retainers using household products you may already have. Never use chemicals like bleach to clean your retainer. Do not soak your retainer in fizzy drinks as this will just feed the bacteria. Never use hot water, this will distort or melt you aligner or retainer.

Brush with a Soft Toothbrush – Each night, simply use a small bit of non-abrasive toothpaste (regular toothpaste is too abrasive) or a mild soap and brush your retainers with a soft toothbrush. This will help keep your retainer clean, but it will not kill bacteria and may not prevent white plaque buildup unless you brush the retainer extremely thoroughly every single time.

Vinegar and Water Soak – Mix equal amounts of white distilled vinegar and warm water and soak your retainer for 15-30 minutes. Then brush your retainer gently with a soft toothbrush and rinse it thoroughly.

Hydrogen Peroxide and Water Soak – Mix warm water and 3% hydrogen peroxide in equal amounts and soak your retainer for 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with warm water before . Hydrogen peroxide will kill some bacteria, but will not remove plaque build-up.

Mouthwash Soak – You can dilute equal parts of alcohol free mouthwash and water to temporarily make your retainer smell fresh and kill some of the bacteria. 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 once in a while, but regular use will not be good for your retainers.

Remember the most important thing to remember is to clean your retainer or aligner every day! Make sure to store your retainer or aligners in a good case. Never use a napkin or tissue – that’s the easiest way to lose it!

Advice or Questions?

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