How to clean and care for retainers?

How to clean and care for retainers?

Congratulations on your new smile!

We worked hard together to achieve the smile you wanted. As precious as it is when your orthodontic treatment is finished, we want to inform you of the necessity to retain the result.

Your retainers are worn after the appliances have been removed to hold the teeth in their new position.


There are two common types of removable retainers: Hawley and Essix. Hawley retainers are made of acrylic and stainless-steel wires. Essix retainers are BPA-free and rubber-free clear plastic material.

  1. The retainers may feel awkward at first and make speaking clearly a little difficult. Keep speaking and after a few days, you will sound normal again.
  2. In general, we recommend patients to wear them full-time for 6-12 months and then every night afterwards. We recommend nighttime wear for lifetime; as long as you want to keep your teeth straight.
  3. Remove your retainers for eating and brushing.
  4. Remove your retainer while swimming, skiing, or participating in contact sports.
  5. Always store the retainer in the case when not wearing and avoid extreme temperatures. It’s easy to lose your retainer if they’ve been wrapped in a napkin or in your pocket.
  6. Keep retainers away from pets-they love to chew on them.
  7. Remember to bring your retainers with you for retainer check appointments.
  8. When inserting or removing your retainers, use the clasps in the back. Do not pull or push on the front parts or bite down the retainers as this may distort or break the retainers.
  9. Clean once a day with a soft toothbrush and clear antibacterial dish soap. You may soak the retainer in a ½ water and ½ vinegar solution, for 20 minutes once a week. Do not soak in mouthwash or polident.


We may recommend a fixed retainer, which is a piece of wire glued onto the back surfaces of your front teeth so that you can’t see them when you smile. If we have placed a bonded retainer, you need to floss under the wire daily. Inadequate or infrequent brushing and flossing this area will result in inflamed gums and possible tooth decay. Flossing can be done with the use of regular floss and a floss threader. Care must be taken when biting into certain foods; avoid sticky or very hard foods in the area of the bonded retainer.


For children who have completed Phase I treatment (early treatment to address immediate concerns), we will see you back regularly to check your retainer(s) and monitor for Phase II (full) treatment. We may need to adjust retainers accordingly as permanent teeth erupt.

We also recommend full-time wear of retainers for at least 6 months, and nighttime wear afterwards. Please follow the instructions written under Removable retainers above.


Lost or broken retainers will incur replacement or repair fees. Like eye glasses or other personal items, it is possible for retainers to wear out over time. Beginning 12 months after the final removal or orthodontic appliances, orthodontic maintenance fees for follow-up care may be charged.