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4 Tips for cleaning clear retainers and aligners

Clear retainers & aligners

Whether you are straightening your smile with Invisalign® or have been given clear retainers to hold your teeth straight after treatment, keeping them clean and free of stains is important. Clear retainers (such as Essix or Vivera retainers) and aligners can discolor and attract bacteria and plaque. If your trays are turning yellow or picking up a funky buildup or odor, it means they are in desperate need of cleaning! Aligners and retainers should be cleaned as part of your daily routine, just like brushing your teeth. Here are 4 tips for keeping your clear retainers and aligners sparkly clean!

1. Clean regularly and gently.

When you brush your teeth, you should also be cleaning your retainers or aligners. This means at least twice a day - morning and evening. Use gentle motions, as brushing too hard can wear, dull, or warp the plastic. Remember to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and cold or lukewarm water. A non-abrasive toothpaste or clear soap is best.

2. Avoid hot water and harsh chemicals.

Hot water can distort plastic, so it is very important not to boil, dish-wash, or use hot water to clean or soak your retainers and aligners. Abrasive toothpastes (such as those with charcoal) and harsh chemicals (such as laundry bleach and alcohol) should be avoided, as these can deteriorate the plastic.

3. Use a soaking solution.

If you are diligent about your cleaning routine, you probably won't need to soak your aligners or retainers very often. To help remove stains, plaque, and buildup, here are several safe options for soaking solutions:

  • Vinegar and water

  • Baking soda and water

  • Sterialigner

  • Invisalign cleaning crystals

  • Effervescent cleaning tablets (ex. Retainer Brite)

Remember to avoid using hot water. After soaking, be sure to thoroughly rinse your aligner or retainer.

4. Invest in an ultrasonic cleaner

If you want the best clean, Dr. Godley recommends an ultrasonic cleaner. They are very effective and can be found at many retail stores and online, often for less than $50. These devices are designed to clean objects using small vibrations that can penetrate into areas often missed by a toothbrush, breaking up buildup and debri. Not only can they clean your retainers, but they are also great for jewelry and rings too!


How To Remove Stains from Clear Retainers

You'll need: hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, soft toothbrush

In a bowl, combine half lukewarm water and half hydrogen peroxide with 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Add retainers/aligners to the solution and soak them for up to 20 minutes. Use a soft toothbrush to gently clean the surfaces of your retainer.

How to Remove Buildup From Clear Retainers

You'll need: distilled white vinegar, lukewarm water, soft toothbrush

In a bowl, combine half lukewarm water with half distilled white vinegar. Add retainers/aligners to the solution and soak for up to 20 minutes. After soaking, use a soft toothbrush to gently clean all surfaces. Rinse well.

Troubleshooting: For tough or large deposits of buildup that have accumulated, try using an ultrasonic cleaner.


What types of things stain clear retainers and aligners?

Certain foods, drinks and spices can stain Invisalign aligners and clear retainers. Here are some of the most common culprits:

  • Coffee

  • Wine

  • Turmeric

  • Saffron

  • Curry

  • Ginger

  • Food coloring

  • Tomato paste


We want you to have the brightest smile during and after your orthodontic treatment! Clear aligners and retainers require maintenance and upkeep to stay clear. After spending time and money to straighten your smile, don't slack off on taking care of your retainers. Commit to cleaning them regularly. Wearing and cleaning your retainers as instructed by your orthodontist will ensure you keep your beautiful smile for a lifetime! If you have any questions, feel free to contact our team at Godley Family Orthodontics. We are always happy to help!


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