When you’re wearing a retainer, you might not even think about cleaning it. You still brush your teeth, but that’s not enough. Learning how to clean retainers is important, especially if plaque builds up. Regular cleaning helps to prevent plaque, but if it has built up, don’t worry – you can get your retainer clean.

How to Clean Retainers

Avoid Damaging Products

Since your retainer is porous, certain chemicals may actually damage it. This means you can’t just use any cleaner to remove the plaque. Many cleansers, such as mouthwash, contain alcohol, which can dry out your retainer and damage it permanently.

You should also avoid any cleansers you may be allergic to. For instance, denture cleansers might sound like a good idea, but the FDA released a warning about the allergen persulfate.

Soak Your Retainer

If you can’t use mouthwash, you might wonder how to clean retainers at all. There are three easy ingredients to clean your retainer:

  • Distilled water
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar

While you shouldn’t use all three at once, each works individually to help remove plaque build up. For a light buildup, soak your retainer in distilled water. Avoid tap water as it may contain harmful bacteria or minerals. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to remove the plaque.

For a heavier plaque buildup, soak your retainer in a mixture of baking soda and distilled water. Not only is baking soda safe, but it helps remove nasty odors.

For regular cleansing, soak your retainer in white vinegar weekly to kill bacteria and prevent plaque buildup from occurring.

Keeping Your Retainer Clean

Now that you know how to clean retainers that have plaque buildup, it’s important to keep them clean. You just found that you should soak them weekly in white vinegar.

You should also always keep your retainer moist. If it dries out, plaque and bacteria build up quickly, which can permanently damage the retainer. Soak it in distilled water or a mixture of distilled water and baking soda when it’s not in your mouth.

Finally, brush your retainer regularly with a soft-bristled brush. Just remember to be gentle to avoid scratching it.

Is the plaque buildup too bad? Contact our office today to have your retainer professionally cleaned.