How to Keep Your Retainer Clean for Better Oral Health

La Grange, IL – If you want to keep your new beautiful smile, you’ll likely have to wear your retainer for a lifetime. That’s why keeping your retainer clean is not only important for your oral health, but excellent maintenance ensures it will last for years to come. Since it rests inside your mouth, directly against your teeth, your retainer gathers bacteria and is the perfect place for plaque and tartar to hide. To keep your dental appliance as clean as possible, you should engage in a daily cleaning ritual.

How To Clean Your Retainer

There are three common types of dental retainers including Hawley retainers, fixed or bonded retainers, and clear plastic retainers. Cleaning your retainer will require a different process depending on the type of appliance you have. Here’s how to clean the various retainers on the market.

Hawley Retainers

The retainer most of us think of is the Hawley retainer, named after its inventor Dr. Charles A. Hawley. This removable retainer consists of a metal wire, which usually wraps around the front six teeth to hold them in place. It is molded from acrylic to fit the roof of your mouth, allowing for easy removal.

Clear Plastic Retainers

There are many names for the clear plastic retainers. Essix, Vivera, and Clear Aligners all refer to the type of retainer that slips over teeth much like a mouth guard. These are almost undetectable, making them preferable to many patients. These retainers are also easy to remove but are not quite as strong as Hawley retainers.

Fixed Bonded Retainers

Some retainers consist of nothing more than a thin wire that is bonded to the back of your teeth. These bonded retainers are used when you are at a high risk for your teeth shifting after braces removal. This retainer cannot be removed and may be in place for years, allowing for the most long-lasting results.

Cleaning Your Retainer

Since both Hawley and clear plastic retainers can be removed, they can be cleaned in similar ways.

  1. As soon as you remove your retainer from your mouth, clean it! When your retainer is still wet, it is much easier to remove any debris before it has a chance to harden.
  2. Rinse your retainer with lukewarm water after eating. It’s a good idea to brush your teeth at this time as well.
  3. To clean, mix a mild dish soap with warm water (toothpastes are too abrasive and will scratch your retainer’s surface). Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gently scrub.
  4. Soak your retainer in a retainer cleaner and be sure to follow the package instructions to avoid damage.

If your retainer won’t come clean, take it to your orthodontist for a more thorough cleaning.

Cleaning Fixed Bonded Retainers

Patients must floss bonded retainers daily to keep them clean.

  1. Use a floss threader to insert floss between your front bottom teeth.
  2. Maneuver the floss under your retainer wire, then move it up and down between each tooth all the way to the gum line.
  3. Slide the floss behind the wire and over to the next area and pull down.
  4. Be sure to floss each tooth that’s attached to your fixed retainer.

If you’re having a hard time cleaning your retainer, contact Battistoni and Beam Orthodontics today at Our trained and friendly staff can monitor your technique and provide you with more at-home cleaning tips.

© 2017 Millionairium and Battistoni and Beam Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Millionairium and Battistoni and Beam are credited as sole source. Linking to other sites from this document is strictly prohibited, with the exception of herein imbedded links


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