Caring for your retainer

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January 10th, 2020

Since your retainer goes into your mouth and contacts your teeth and gums, it is exposed to bacteria, plaque and tartar. Cleaning your retainer should be a part of your daily oral health routine, just like brushing and flossing your teeth.

Different types of retainers require different methods of cleaning. Find some tips for your specific type of retainer below:

If you have removable retainers like a Hawley Retainer (removable, made from acrylic and wire) or a type of clear plastic retainer (invisible, slip on over your teeth)—

You should…

  • Clean your retainer as soon as you take it out of your mouth.
  • Remove your retainer before eating, then brush and rinse it with lukewarm water before putting it back in your mouth after each meal. Some toothpastes may be too abrasive to use on retainers. Check with your dentist if you are unsure about the brand you are using.
  • Give your retainer a more thorough cleaning about once a week by brushing it with a soft toothbrush or denture brush using lukewarm water and a mild cleaner.
  • See if your dentist recommends soaking it using a denture or retainer cleaner. Instructions will be provided on the packaging or by your dentist.
  • Remember to regularly clean your retainer case.


If you have a fixed/bonded retainer (permanently attached to your teeth)—

You should…

  • Clean daily with floss.
    • Use six inches of floss with a floss threader.
    • Get the floss under your retainer wire, moving it between all teeth along your gum line.
    • Move the floss between each tooth.