Orthodontic retainers

After orthodontic treatment that jaw and tooth alignment, like braces, your orthodontist will prescribe a retainer to maintain your results. Retainers keep your teeth from shifting back into misalignment. Cleaning and caring for your retainer will make this process safer and easier for you.

Why is taking care of your retainer important?

Retainers are pieces of orthodontic equipment that ensure that years of hard work aren’t accidentally undone. However, your retainer is an external device that lives in your mouth and collects bacteria, plaque, tartar and debris.

Your retainer becomes dirty with use, which can be dangerous if left uncleaned. You may notice unpleasant smells or textures, indicating retainer care is overdue. Dirty retainers become unsanitary surfaces that can harbor sickness-inducing bacteria that cause strep throat. Knowing how to take care of retainers prevents these issues, supporting your orthodontic health and overall well-being.

Cleaning different types of retainers

The retainer your orthodontist prescribes depends on the severity of your treatment and your teeth’s likeliness to shift back into place. The options include:

  • Hawley retainersThese removable retainers are constructed from an acrylic mold to fit your unique mouth shape and a wire to keep the facial muscles and teeth in place.
  • Clear retainersWith options like vacuum-formed Essix retainers, clear retainers are transparent for a low profile and fit over your teeth to keep them in place.
  • Permanent or fixed retainers: This non-removable retainer is bonded to the back of the teeth most likely to shift back into misalignment.

Hawley and clear retainers are the easiest to clean because you can remove them. We recommend using a toothbrush to clean a Hawley retainer, while you’ll need a retainer or denture cleaner to care for your clear retainer properly. Your orthodontist may recommend or provide you with a soak to clean your retainer. Follow the instructions you receive to avoid weakening the material. Avoid alcohol-based cleaners and toothpaste, as these substances can be abrasive.

Fixed retainers are best cleaned with floss to pick out any leftover food particles and to thoroughly get any bacteria brushing may have left behind.

Maintain your smile today!

Schedule consultation