Retainer Cleaning

If you have finished with your orthodontic treatment and are wearing retainers (or will be soon), this is a special place to connect with others in your (enviable) situation. Ask a question or make a comment about life post-braces.

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Toddbullock
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Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2010 12:25 pm

Retainer Cleaning

#1 Post by Toddbullock » Sun May 08, 2011 1:21 pm

I keep seeing conflicting instructions on how to clean your retainer. Some people say to clean it using a toothbrush and toothpaste. But then I have heard others say not to do that because toothpaste is too abrasive and can scratch the acrylic.

I have heard that you should rinse them in warm water after cleaning. But then others say not to rinse in warm water because warm water can cause the acrylic to warp. I really do not think that warm water is hot enough to warp the acrylic.

I have also heard that you should soak your retainers in mouthwash. I have also heard others say not to do that because the alcohol in the mouthwash can harm the acrylic.

I have also heard that you should soak them in vinegar as well to clean them.

So, now I am really confused. I have soaked my Hawley retainers in Listerine for up to 16 hours numerous times and they do not seem to have been effected by the alcohol in the mouthwash. I also brush them everyday with toothpaste and a toothbrush in warm water and there are no scratches that I can see. However, if soaking in mouthwash really is harmful I do not want to continue to do it. The same goes with brushing them with toothpaste. I have never soaked them in vinegar because I do not want them to taste like vinegar. I know when I soak them in mouthwash that they still taste like mouthwash even after I rinse them off.

Has anyone caused harm to their Hawley retainer by brushing with toothpaste or soaking in mouthwash? Have I just been lucky so far and not ruined them yet? What are the best methods for cleaning them?

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bbsadmin
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Re: Retainer Cleaning

#2 Post by bbsadmin » Sun May 08, 2011 1:52 pm

Toddbullock wrote:I keep seeing conflicting instructions on how to clean your retainer. Some people say to clean it using a toothbrush and toothpaste. But then I have heard others say not to do that because toothpaste is too abrasive and can scratch the acrylic.
This is true mainly for clear Essix retainers. You wouldn't need to worry about that as much with Hawley retainers.
I have heard that you should rinse them in warm water after cleaning. But then others say not to rinse in warm water because warm water can cause the acrylic to warp. I really do not think that warm water is hot enough to warp the acrylic.
Warm water is fine. Very hot water is not a good idea. Very hot water could warp a retainer, especially an Essix retainer.
I have also heard that you should soak your retainers in mouthwash. I have also heard others say not to do that because the alcohol in the mouthwash can harm the acrylic. I have also heard that you should soak them in vinegar as well to clean them.
Mouthwash and vinegar may kill some of the germs, but it will not remove the white plaque buildup. Also, the alcohol in the mouthwash is not good for long term use on your retainers.
So, now I am really confused. I have soaked my Hawley retainers in Listerine for up to 16 hours numerous times and they do not seem to have been effected by the alcohol in the mouthwash. I also brush them everyday with toothpaste and a toothbrush in warm water and there are no scratches that I can see. However, if soaking in mouthwash really is harmful I do not want to continue to do it. The same goes with brushing them with toothpaste. I have never soaked them in vinegar because I do not want them to taste like vinegar. I know when I soak them in mouthwash that they still taste like mouthwash even after I rinse them off.

Has anyone caused harm to their Hawley retainer by brushing with toothpaste or soaking in mouthwash? Have I just been lucky so far and not ruined them yet? What are the best methods for cleaning them?
As long as you don't see any white plaque buildup, you are probably doing a decent job between brushing them and soaking them in Listerine. However, long term the Listerine is not good for the acrylic. That's why cleaning products like Retainer Brite, SonicBrite, and DentaSoak were created. They kill all the harmful bacteria as well as cleaning off the white plaque buildup.
I'm the owner/admin of this site. Had ceramic uppers, metal lowers ~3 years in my early 40's. Now in Hawley retainers at night!

retainergirl4life
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Re: Retainer Cleaning

#3 Post by retainergirl4life » Tue May 17, 2011 9:32 pm

I actually wash my hawley retainers with dawn dish soap. My ortho suggested it and it works great for me. It sounds strange, but if you think of it, you wash your spoons and forks with it to get all the food and germs off of them. As long as you rinse them well afterwards they stay really clean by doing this:)

loradora
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Re: Retainer Cleaning

#4 Post by loradora » Sat May 21, 2011 5:49 am

I'm in trouble if alcohol affects the acrylic. :lol: My instructions were to brush them when I brushed my teeth and soak them in 1/2 vinegar, 1/2 water 1-2 times a week. My regular dentist told me to bring them when I get my teeth cleaned and they will put them in a sonic bath.
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ashesgap
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Re: Retainer Cleaning

#5 Post by ashesgap » Mon May 23, 2011 1:44 pm

I can see how vinegar would keep them clean. I use it in my coffee machine to clean out all the hard water build up, and it gets all the big chunks off. I guess that would be a good alternative for someone who doesn't like chemicals.
29 years old
2-18-10 baby canine pulled
3-15-10 got braces
12-22-11 Moving-SO EXCITED!!
1-2-12 Meet new Ortho
1-5-12 Begin finishing treatment
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4-9-12 Deband!
I had braces for Two Years and TwentyFive Days
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TimSeattle
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Re: Retainer Cleaning

#6 Post by TimSeattle » Tue May 24, 2011 11:04 am

I soak my Essix retainers all day about once a week in regular denture cleaner. Works well. The other days I rinse them in warm water and brush lightly using a toothbrush without toothpaste. I've read that the specially formulated retainer cleaners available here work the best.
"Every tooth in a man's mouth is more valuable than a diamond" Don Quixote

Braces On: 5/2004
Braces Off: 3/2007

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macgirl4ever
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Re: Retainer Cleaning

#7 Post by macgirl4ever » Thu May 26, 2011 9:16 pm

I wasn't too sure about using vinegar either. My prior experience was that My Essex was still cloudy after using anything except Retainerbrite. Since switching to night time only, however, the vinegar is a much more viable option as I don't have so much to clean off.
Braced: 20 months March 2009-November 2010
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