Cleaning And Caring for Retainers

While it is very exciting to get your braces off and reveal your amazing new smile, orthodontic treatment does not end when your braces or Invisalign are removed. You will be provided with retainers to keep your teeth in place and protect your investment. Retainers should be worn for life or as long as you want to keep your teeth straight!  Just like with cleaning braces and Invisalign, it’s important to know exactly how to clean retainers. Let’s cover the various ways to clean and care for your retainers!

Clear Removable Retainer Guidelines

It is important to properly remove your retainers so that you don’t break or damage them. Use the following guidelines when removing your retainers…

  • We suggest placing both hands towards the back of your retainers and popping them out using even force on both sides. Be sure not to twist or pull down on one side as this can cause them to crack. 
  • Take your retainers out every time you eat, brush your teeth, go swimming, or play sports that require a mouthguard. 
  • Remove your retainers when drinking sugary or acidic beverages; keeping the retainers in will trap the liquid, which could cause enamel decalcification. 
  • Every time you remove your retainers, store them in the case that was provided to you. Do NOT put your retainers in a napkin or on a lunch tray – it will likely get thrown away! 
  • Make sure your retainers are kept away from areas that become hot, such as microwaves, washers and dryers, stoves, car dashboards, and dishwashers. 
  • Keep your retainer away from pets as well, including cats and dogs. Pets like the smell of the saliva and will chew on them if they can.
woman's hands washing her invisible aligners for dental correction with water

How To Clean Clear, Removable Retainers

We suggest cleaning your retainers on at least a weekly basis. You can brush them daily and use tablets on a weekly basis. There are multiple options when it comes to cleaning your retainers including:

  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste: After brushing your teeth, apply a small bead (smaller than the size of a pea) of toothpaste on your toothbrush, and gently but thoroughly brush your retainers before putting them back in. Be sure to clean the aligner inside and out, getting all the crevices.
  • Retainer Brite Cleaning Tablets: These can be found at
  • Equal Parts Water and White Vinegar: Soak your retainers in this mixture for 20-30 minutes, then rinse well before putting them back in your mouth. Do not use boiling water.
  • Mouthwash: To keep your retainers tasting fresh, you can soak them in mouthwash diluted with water for about 10 minutes.

Bonded Retainer Guidelines

  • Your retainer has been attached to your teeth with a strong and durable adhesive. However, eating hard or chewy foods may break the bonded retainer off your teeth. Be careful when eating as you were when you had braces on your teeth. 
  • Keep your regular cleaning appointments with your family dentist.  
  • If you notice your teeth shifting, your bonded retainer may be loose. Call our office promptly so we may schedule an appointment to have it rebonded.

How To Clean Permanent Retainers

Your lower, bonded retainer is attached to your teeth permanently so you must floss it daily to keep it clean.

  • Take a piece of floss and a floss threader to thread the floss under the retainer wire. Floss between each tooth that is attached to your permanent retainer. 
  • Make sure you are brushing twice daily, paying particular attention to brushing well around your permanent retainer to remove food remnants that may be trapped between the brackets.
Retainers dental installed after braces treatment, Medically accurate dental 3D illustration

Understanding How To Clean And Care For Retainers Will Ensure Your Smile For A Lifetime

Cleaning and caring for both your permanent and removable retainers will be key to long-term, healthy oral hygiene and maintaining your gorgeous smile!

Please be sure to bring your retainers with you to all of your retainer check appointments, so that we can check them in your mouth. If you break or lose your retainer, give us a call right away at 919.303.4557– you don’t want to give your teeth a chance to move. Lost or broken retainers can be replaced for a fee. If you have more questions or concerns regarding how to care for retainers after braces let us know! We’re always here to support your journey to a better smile.

Book a Free Consult