How to keep your removable retainers clean


Once finished with orthodontic treatment, you will get retainers to keep everything where it should be and to prevent your teeth from relapsing.

These retainers will either be fixed in place behind your teeth or removable for wearing as directed by your orthodontist.

Removable retainers usually come in two types; the clear aligner retainer (Essix) or an acrylic and wire type retainer (Hawley).

Both provide a similar function and hold your teeth in position and from personal experience, are both very comfortable and easy to wear. I will be writing another post on the differences and my preferences but whatever type you receive, you will need to keep it clean.

Read also: ORTHODONTIC: Managing Pain or Discomfort Caused by Orthodontic Appliances


My retainer routine is fairly straightforward, whenever I remove my retainer and before putting it back in again, I give it a good clean with a soft toothbrush.

I’m mindful that small scratches can provide a nice home for bacteria to grow so do not use toothpaste or a hard toothbrush as these can cause the relatively soft plastic in the Essix retainer to become damaged.

The Hawley retainer is a little bit more robust and would probably standup to more vigorous brushing but again, why take the chance with small scratches so I use a soft toothbrush and water to keep it clean.

In additional to regularly brushing the retainers, several times a week I soak them in a solution of warm water and ‘Retainer Brite’ which is a tablet you add to the water to disinfect the retainers.

The process takes around 15 minutes and you remove the retainers when the solution turns from blue to clear.

I have only been wearing retainers for around three months and so far, they have remained clean and odour free using the techniques I have described. I will post about this again next year to see whether this approach works in the long term.

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