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How to Care for Your Teeth Retainer: Tips and Tricks

If you wear a retainer, your dentist must have told you to take care of this delicate piece which helps keep your teeth in the correct position.

But apart from wearing them full-time and removing them while eating, there are certain tips and tricks which you must keep in mind to take good care of your teeth retainers.

Do You Need to Clean Retainers?

Yes, it is a must to clean your retainers. For example, every morning, you brush your teeth, and every time you remove them, you must clean them before keeping them in their case.  

Similarly to your teeth, your retainers also sit in your mouth and accumulate bacteria, germs, and plaque. If you don’t clean them, it might cause further damage and infections to your teeth. 

So, cleaning your retainers is a must. But the processes differ based on the type of retainers you have.

How to Take Care of Fixed Retainers?

Fixed retainers are preferred if your teeth have a high risk of shifting back into their places. It is most common after you have worn braces for a long time. Right after they are removed, your dentist will suggest fixed retainers. However, they cannot be removed. They are fixed in place by braided metal wires glued with cement for months and can only be removed by your dentist.  

Here are a few tips to take care of your fixed retainers.

  • Since they are fixed and cannot be removed, there is a greater risk of food lodging between the wires. So, use a floss thread to clean your teeth. 
  • Do not eat sticky, hard, or chewy foods, which will cause plaque.
  • Brush twice a day or after every meal.

How To Take Care of Clear or Removable Retainers?

Your dentist may allow you to wear removable retainers when you have surpassed the high-risk time and don’t need to wear them for 24 hours.  You cannot tell that you have something fixed on your teeth with these clear plastic retainers.

Your dentist takes the impressions of your teeth and sends them to a lab to get your retainers designed. These are expensive, and you must take good care of them. 

Here are specific tips to guide you.  

Wear Your Retainers Properly

Your retainers are breakable, and you must check them after wearing them before biting on them. If they are not fixed properly, and you bite down, they might break. So, check them on your hand first. Also, wear your retainers as prescribed by your dentist. If they are meant to be worn 24 hours a day, wear them accordingly.

Clean Your Retainers Daily

Brush your retainers similarly to brushing your teeth. Use a soft brush to clean the debris, and lodged food, because every time you drink water or juice, you cannot remove your retainers, and the food will lodge in them. If you don’t clean your retainers, the food will rot and cause infection.

Choose the brush carefully for your retainers, as your toothbrush can be abrasive and might damage the retainers. For tough corners, use cotton swabs, cloth, or earbuds. Ensure they are properly cleaned before wearing them. Also, clean your teeth when your retainers are not in your mouth. 

Don’t Use Chemicals

Here are some don’ts of cleaning your retainers.

  • Many people soak their retainers in hot or warm water or wipe their retainers with alcohol to clean them. Don’t do this. It wears out the retainers.
  • There are cleaning tablets, which you might use, but do not use them for Hawley retainers as they might erode the metal. 
  • A common mistake is cleaning retainers in a dishwasher. Never do that. Retainers are fragile dental tools that must be brushed lightly with a soft brush and not washed like utensils. 
  • Another mistake is cleaning retainers with baking soda. But it is an abrasive cleaning agent and harmful to your retainers.
  • Don’t soak retainers in mouthwash or bleach.
  • Don’t use toothpaste for cleaning your Hawley retainers. 

Keep Retainers in Case 

Retainers come in a case, and you must keep them in it. Don’t leave your retainers lying around. Keep them away from kids or pets.  

It will keep them safe from unwanted events such as throwing them away in the trash or stepping on them accidentally. 

Also, keep your retainers from heat or direct sunlight. They are made of plastic and might melt.

Never Miss a Dental Appointment

It is very crucial as your retainers might need adjustment over time. Your dentist will examine your teeth and the retainer’s fit and suggest adjustments. Always take your retainers with you during your dental appointments. 


Taking care of your retainers includes cleaning them twice a day and keeping them safe. The tips mentioned above include everything you must know. Whether you have fixed or clear, removable retainers, this guide will help you keep your retainers clean and safe. 

If you have any doubts or queries concerning teeth retainers and their care, visit Peace of Mind Dental Studio, where you will receive expert guidance on choosing the best retainers or their maintenance. Book an appointment now!

Written by Dr. Silverman

Dr. Silverman is the co-founder of Peace of Mind Dental, a Chandler Arizona, general dentistry practice.