Clear retainers, also known as vivera retainers, are flexible appliances worn over teeth to help maintain space and prevent shifting of the teeth after orthodontic treatment. They typically come in clear plastic and must be cleaned regularly to prevent discoloration or staining from food particles or plaque.
If you wear clear retainers, you already know how gross and yucky they can get if you don’t stay on top of your cleaning routine. That's why it's crucial to practice proper retainer care regularly and correctly.
As a mom that has had two children go through braces, I have some helpful hints you or your child can use!
This blog post shares 7 tips on keeping your clear retainers clean and fresh so you don't have to worry about bad breath or embarrassing smells with your new retainer.
Keep Your Retainer Moist
Unlike permanent retainers, clear retainers are very delicate. As a result, this type of retainer can become damaged if they dry out or crack, so it’s essential to keep them moist at all times.
Apart from preventing damage to your retainers, moisture is also crucial for preventing dry mouth, linked to tooth decay. Oral health is one of the most important factors for cleaning retainers.
So, how exactly do you do this?
If you're on the go, a simple way to keep your removable retainer moist is to swish some water around in your mouth and then spit it out. Doing so will clear out any dirt and keep the retainer wet.
Also, it's a good idea to always soak the retainer in clear distilled water every time you remove it. If you have no place to soak the retainer or it's too dirty, enclose it in a damp paper towel and put it in your retainer case until your next cleaning.
Use a Non-Whitening Toothpaste
Clear plastic retainers are not as durable as Hawley retainers. Therefore, you must take extra care when brushing your clear retainers.
Use a soft bristle toothbrush and non-whitening toothpaste to clean retainers thoroughly and prevent stains from setting in before placing them back into your mouth.
We all love a good teeth whitening, but non-whitening toothpaste will be more gentle.
Make sure you rinse it thoroughly as well to prevent toothpaste stains.
Also, don't forget to brush your teeth to clear away any food particles before placing your retainer back into position.
Use a Denture Cleaner
If you've run out of retainer cleaners or don't have any other way to clean your retainer, a denture cleaner is better than nothing. However, you shouldn't use this method often since denture cleaners can discolor your retainer.
To clean your retainer using a denture cleaner:
- Clean the retainer thoroughly.
- Soak it in the cleaner for 20 minutes.
- Take it out and scrub it using a soft toothbrush.
- Rinse the retainer until it no longer tastes like denture cleaner.
Disinfect Your Retainer with White Vinegar
White vinegar is a gentle cleaner that won't discolor your clear retainer if you use it only occasionally. It's the best way to get rid of odor and residues, thereby leaving you with a beautiful smile every time you have your retainer in.
Follow these steps to get the most out of the white vinegar cleaning method for retainers:
- Create a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and warm water (don't use hot water as it may damage the retainer).
- Soak your retainer in the mixture for 20 minutes.
- Next, if your retainer is dirty, use a soft-bristled toothbrush to scrub the dirt off.
- Rinse the retainer with cold water.
- Create another white vinegar mixture and soak the retainer for an additional 20 minutes.
- If the vinegar smell is too strong when you take the retainer out, rinse it until you no longer smell it.
Rely on Castile Soap for a Gentle Clean
Castile soap is a natural oil-based product made from plants. It's gentle enough to clean clear retainers, and it has the added benefit of being antibacterial. You can make your own using coconut soap and olive oil or buy a ready-made product.
Here's how to use castile soap to clean your orthodontic retainers:
- Add a small amount of the soap to warm water. Cool water may also work, but it's not as effective.
- Leave the retainer to soak for about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Take the retainer out of the solution and use a soft toothbrush to clear out any gunk and food particles you see on the surface.
- Soak the retainer in the castile soap mixture for another 2 to 3 minutes, then take it out.
- Rinse it thoroughly before soaking it in distilled water or putting it back in your mouth.
Mouthwash is Also an Excellent Occasional Cleaner
Mouthwash is designed to clear out your mouth and kill germs. Therefore, a mouthwash soak is very effective at clearing retainer gunk.
However, you should not use it too often because many types of mouthwash contain alcohol and hydrogen peroxide, which may dry out your clear aligners if you use them for daily cleaning. If possible, use a non-alcoholic mouthwash if using this simple solution to clean your dirty retainer.
If you don't have any other options:
- First, dip your retainer in mouthwash and let it soak for about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Next, use a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean all the dirt out.
- Finally, rinse it thoroughly with cool water before putting it back in your mouth or soaking it in distilled water.
Use a Retainer Cleaner for Reliable Results
If you're not a fan of DIYs or don't want to risk damaging your retainer by using random household items, clear retainer cleaners are definitely your safest bet.
You can use clear retainers for daily cleaning without worrying about the alcohol content in mouthwashes or hydrogen peroxide in toothpaste deteriorating your clear aligner material. There are also many different types of retainer cleaners available online that you can choose from based on what suits you best.
However, ensure you follow the clear retainer cleaner manufacturer's instructions on how to use their product, as this will ensure that you get the best results from your clear retainers.
Source: Medical News Today
There you have it, seven tips on how to clean clear retainers. Ensure you clean your orthodontic retainers often and avoid using harsh chemicals and cleaning agents. Most importantly, always store your clear aligners in a protective case / aligner tray to prevent scratches, stains, and damage.
These simple hacks will go a long way in preventing damage to clear retainers and ensure they last you a long time.