Tips for Cleaning Your Retainer

braces in Beaverton

Orthodontic care offers many excellent benefits, including a healthier and better-looking smile. If you need braces in Beaverton, our doctors can refer you to an orthodontist for care. However, even when your treatment is complete, you may still need to wear a retainer to prevent your teeth from shifting back out of position.

For it to work, your retainer needs to sit in your mouth. All the food particles and plaque that stick to your teeth can also stick to your retainer. As with brushing your teeth, your retainer will also need regular cleaning. Failing to keep your retainer clean will allow harmful bacteria to build up in your mouth and increase the risk of developing cavities and gum disease, two things you don’t want to ruin your beautiful new smile.

Let’s look at how you can keep your retainer clean and how often you need to clean them.

Why Do You Need to Wear a Retainer?

Once your braces come off, your teeth will need assistance staying in their new positions. Your orthodontist will prescribe that you wear a retainer to help minimize any unwanted movement. You may need to wear a retainer for up to a year after removing your braces to maintain your new and improved smile.

Teeth shift naturally throughout your lifetime. Whenever you chew, speak, swallow, and bite, these movements cause a slight shift in your teeth’s position. Nothing can prevent your teeth from moving slightly around in the mouth, but a retainer can help to reduce the significant shifts that can occur after your braces come off.

You’ll need to wear your retainer anywhere between 12 and 23 hours a day. Many patients will only remove their retainer when eating. While this may seem like unpleasant news to those excited to have their braces removed, it’s a necessary part of your orthodontic treatment. Not wearing a retainer can undo all of the hard work and dedication you put in while wearing your braces, so it’s definitely worth the effort.

What are the Different Types of Retainers?

Depending on your oral health needs, your orthodontist may recommend one of several types of retainers that include:

  • Hawley retainers: Made from wires and hard materials, these removable retainers are the most common.
  • Clear Essix retainers: Another removable retainer made from a transparent material.
  • Fixed or permanent retainer: These retainers are bonded to the tongue side of a patient’s teeth and are custom-fitted. They can only be placed and removed by your orthodontist.

How to Clean Your Retainer

Quality hygiene starts with brushing your retainer daily. After you’ve finished eating, rinse your retainer with warm water. Brush your teeth, and then use a separate toothbrush to gently brush all over your retainer.

You don’t need to use toothpaste when brushing your retainer, as that is designed to help strengthen tooth enamel. Instead, you may need to use a small dab of dish soap to give your retainer the cleaning it needs.

If your retainer features some hard-to-clean areas a brush cannot reach, try using a cotton swab to clean out all nooks and crannies.

Maintenance Tips

Once you get into the habit of keeping your retainer clean, here are a few other helpful tips to keep in mind:

Wash your hands. You need to keep your hands clean whenever handling your retainer. Otherwise, you risk transferring germs from your hands to your mouth, which causes illness.

Rinse or brush. Before placing your retainer back into your mouth after eating, take the time to either rinse or brush. Keeping your mouth clean will make it easier for you to keep your retainer clean.

Make cleaning a habit. It would help if you always cleaned your retainer after taking it out of your mouth. Getting into the habit of constantly cleaning your retainer whenever it leaves your mouth will make it easier to keep your mouth and retainer free of germs.

Clean your case. Even though your retainer will spend most of the time in your mouth, don’t forget to keep your retainer case clean. Your case may hold more bacteria than your retainer if you don’t clean it regularly.


Getting braces in Beaverton offers many different health benefits. Wearing a retainer may seem like an unnecessary burden after wearing braces, but without it your teeth may shift back and undo all of your hard work. Keeping your retainer clean will make getting braces in Beaverton an easier experience that comes with the reward of enjoying a healthy, great-looking smile for a lifetime.