A Retainer Cleaner is a product that is specifically designed to clean an orthodontic Retainer or Clear Aligners (such as Invisalign). There are many types of Retainer Cleaners on the market. They are generally not available in local stores, but you can get them at the office of your Dentist or Orthodontist, or online. (Amazon is not recommended, as many sellers have been carrying counterfeit or substandard products made in China or other third-world countries).
Whether you have a Hawley Retainer, an Essix Retainer, or are using Clear Aligners, it is important that you clean your retainer properly every single day. Otherwise, bacteria could build up on your retainer and make you sick. Buildup of bacteria and plaque also makes your retainer dirty-looking and smell bad.
It is not a good idea to clean your retainer or aligner with denture tablets, as they are not formulated for retainers and may eventually ruin your retainer. It is also not a good idea to brush them with a toothbrush, because over time that will cause microscopic scratches that will harbor more bacteria. Although the scratches might not be an aesthtic problem for Hawley Retainers, they will eventually make Essix Retainer cloudy-looking.
If you have a Hawley Retainer, or any sort of mouth guard that contains metal solder, you should not soak the device. Over time, no matter what cleaning product you use, soaking will eventually weaken the solder and make it turn black and crumble off. It is best to clean these sorts of devices with a foaming, spray, or gel cleaner and very soft toothbrush, cotton swab, or cotton pad.
Some popular Retainer Cleaners include:
- Retainer Brite – Effervescing soaking tablets created by the company that invented Essix Retainers. Kills 99.9% of bacteria.
- SonicBrite – A soaking powder that is used with a special sonic bath. (Not recommended for Essix Retainers or Clear Aligners). Kills 99.9% of bacteria.
- DentaSoak – A soaking liquid that you mix once a week. Kills 99.9% of bacteria.
- Dentibrite – Packets of soaking cleaning crystals that kill 99.9% of bacteria.
- Cleanse, Freshen, Go – Wipes and spray that freshen your retainer or clear aligner. Recommended for retainers with metal solder.
- OAP Cleaner – A gel and foam product that kills 99.9% of bacteria. Recommended for retainers with metal solder.
- Steraligner – A soaking liquid, invented by a leading Invisalign-providing Orthodontist, that kills 99.9% of bacteria.
Whatever retainer cleaner you decide to use, buy it from a reputable store or website. Many products on popular sites like Amazon, eBay, or Walmart carry counterfeit or fake products that are made overseas, and may not work properly.