How To Clean Clear Retainers

Medically Reviewed by Robert Brennan on June 30, 2023
3 min read

Once you complete orthodontic treatment to align and straighten your teeth, your orthodontist may suggest retainers. The results of braces treatment may not last for long if you don’t invest in retainers to maintain your results following orthodontic treatment.

Orthodontic treatment isn’t a new solution, and neither are retainers. But as time passes, orthodontic treatment changes and improves. Clear retainers are one of the more recent advancements in orthodontics.

In creating retainers, orthodontists worked to create a retention solution that makes your results more permanent. At first, they used removable, molded wire appliances designed to fit your teeth. Patients took the retainers in and out as needed to maintain the aesthetic of their teeth.

Later, orthodontists started using clear plastic retainers made from a mold of your teeth. No matter what the design, retainers prevent your teeth from moving back into previous positions as long as you wear them regularly.‌

A clear retainer is a molded piece of durable plastic that fits perfectly to your teeth. You usually need to wear the clear retainers day and night for the first year, only taking them out to eat and brush your teeth. After that, you can wear the retainers only at night while you sleep.

Cost of clear retainers. Cost depends greatly on your specific dental needs and the material you choose for your plastic retainers. Clear retainers cost $100-$250 on average. They last for six months to three years before needing replacement. The length of time they last greatly depends on how you care for your retainers.

Keeping your clear retainer safe. When you take your retainer out of your mouth, put it in the case. This prevents it from picking up extra dirt and germs, as well as from breaking. Additional storing tips include:

  • Keep your retainer case with you everywhere you go in case you need to remove the clear retainers.
  • Place the retainer in a safe place. Avoid just tossing it into your purse or a jacket pocket.
  • Don’t wrap your clear retainers in a napkin, because they are easy to mistake for trash and throw away.
  • Keep your retainers out of reach from any pets. Animals are often attracted to the case and retainers and may chew them up.
  • Keep your clear retainers away from heat because they may warp. If you use retainers after they warp, it may impact your bite.

Keeping your clear retainer clean. Your orthodontist may provide tips on how to care for your retainer. Be sure to follow these instructions for the best results. This may include:

  • Removing your retainer before eating or drinking to avoid food that may get stuck
  • Brushing your retainers with toothpaste once they are removed from your mouth
  • Using an effervescent cleanser tablet‌

It is especially important that you don’t drink anything but water with your retainers in place. Liquids like juice, soda, tea, and wine may soak into the clear retainers. This may lead to the clear retainers changing color or degrading over time. Additionally, the retainers trap sugar from these drinks close to your teeth, which may lead to tooth decay.

Permanent retainers leave you at a greater risk for dental problems because they may trap small particles next to your teeth. Because of this, you want to be diligent in cleaning your teeth well while using clear retainers. Tips for caring for your dental health while using a retainer include:

  • Brush your teeth twice per day.
  • Make sure to brush all around your teeth from different angles, using gentle pressure to avoid damage to your teeth.
  • Use dental floss to reach tight spaces and get in between your teeth and gums.
  • Don’t skip any spaces, no matter how small. Bacteria are more prone to build up in small spaces that aren’t easily reached.
  • Try a water flosser if floss is too difficult for you.
  • Avoid hard foods and things like seeds that may get stuck in your teeth.‌
  • Have regular dental cleanings to monitor the growth of plaque and bacteria.

Make sure you contact your orthodontist immediately if you think something is wrong with your clear retainer. If your retainer feels too tight, loose, or gets damaged, this may cause harm to your health and your teeth.