Since the 1980s, Invisalign has been a popular method of keeping our teeth aligned and properly corrected. After all, they come with so many benefits. Firstly, they are comfortable and don’t cause you any pain. Next, they’re transparent, meaning nobody but you will know you have aligners on. Finally, you can remove them during meals and while you brush your teeth, and you can do it more easily than you would with a regular retainer. There are many orthodontists in Apopka but Modern Orthodontics is well loved among family.
However, both Invisalign and traditional retainers need regular cleaning. If you don’t clean them, plaque and food residue will pile up and you will have a dental problem on your hands. With that in mind, we are here to share a few methods of cleaning retainers of all shapes and sizes. In addition, we will cover what to avoid when giving the aligner a good scrubbing.
Cleaning a Regular Retainer — Effective Methods
Regular braces and retainers are still quite common, since they don’t cost much and are easy to manufacture. And because of how common they are, we should make sure to keep them as clean as possible.
Drinking Clean Water Regularly
By regularly drinking clean water, we can prevent any bacterial overgrowth on our teeth. In addition, we can take a bottle of water with us, and if the retainer feels dirty, we simply need to take a swig and swish the water around a bit.
Of course, nothing will work the same as clean, filtered water. Soda and other carbonated drinks can only do harm, which we will cover in some detail a little further below.
Baking soda is the perfect solution for both regular and clear braces. In order to clean the retainer, we will need to mix some water with baking soda to make a paste. Next, we will need a soft-bristle toothbrush which we will use to apply the paste to the retainer and scrub softly. Finally, the paste should be rinsed off of the retainer, thoroughly.
Just like baking soda, this method works well with both types of retainers. Unlike regular soap, Castile soap contains natural oils and is not nearly as toxic as other cleaning products out there.
The cleaning process is simple enough: add some Castile soap into warm water, soak the retainer for a few minutes, scrub gently, repeat a few times, then rinse with cool water.
Mixing some warm water and vinegar will make a strong cleaning solution in which you can soak both your regular and your clear aligners. Since vinegar has a strong smell, you might want to do it next to an open window. Some 20 minutes should pass before you pull the retainer out of the solution. If you need to, scrub off some residue and soak the retainer for another 20 minutes.
As its name suggests, a retainer cleaner will get the job done. However, depending on what type of aligner you have, you will need to find the right brand. After all, invisible braces will react differently to one cleaner than regular braces would.
Cleaning a Regular Retainer — Last Resort Methods
All of the methods we’ve listed so far will clean your retainers without any significant consequences. However, there are some solutions that also work, but only if we apply them properly and none of the earlier methods are available.
Denture cleaners clean teeth, not braces. If we use them on a retainer, it can turn yellow. That’s why we suggest only using a denture cleaner if nothing else is available. The process is the same as with vinegar — soak the retainer for 20 minutes or so, then pull them out and rinse them off. If necessary, scrub with a soft-bristle toothbrush.
Mouthwash contains alcohol, which can make the retainer feel dry and even cause it to crack. Moreover, it might not clean the retainer well, even after a good scrub. Still, it’s a good option to have if there are no other solutions lying around. Just remember to use mouthwash sparingly.
Some kinds of toothpaste contain strong abrasive ingredients that can damage the surface of the aligner. So, if you plan on using toothpaste to clean braces, make sure it’s a non-whitening brand. In addition, scrub the retainer well using a soft-bristle toothbrush.
Cleaning Invisible Aligners
As you can see, most of the solutions we listed above can be applied to all kinds of retainers. However, there are two that work especially well on Invisalign and other similar brands.
Hydrogen peroxide is a potent cleaner that can wipe away any bacteria effectively while leaving the aligners undamaged. In order to use this compound, mix it with warm water and soak the invisible aligners in for about 30 minutes. After you’re done, rinse them off with cool water.
Invisalign, in particular, has launched a line of cleaning crystals that are specifically designed for clear aligners. And yes, the process is the same as in most of the methods we’ve listed. Take some warm water, dissolve the crystals in it, then soak the Invisalign for about 15 minutes. However, while the crystals will clean everything thoroughly, they are possibly the most expensive option we have on our list.
Methods You Should Avoid
Sadly, with every effective method of cleaning invisible braces, there’s at least one that either won’t work or might end up hurting us. Here’s a list of cleaning “methods” you should definitely not try with your aligner.
Disinfectants, glass cleaners, bleach, drain openers, dish soap, fabric softener — it might surprise you to know that people have used all of these products (and more!) to clean their retainers. We will put it bluntly: unless you want to end up in a hospital or in a coffin, don’t use them for retainer cleaning.
Sugary, carbonated foods do harm to our teeth, so cleaning the retainer with them is not a good idea. Some people claim that Coca-Cola and other similar drinks have potent cleaning properties. And while some of that might be true for other types of filth and dirt, it’s definitely not true for retainer grime.
There’s a reason we keep stressing that you need warm water to mix all of the solutions above. Boiling water (or even plain hot water) will distort the shape of your aligner, meaning you will have no choice but to buy a new one.
Myths and Misconceptions about Cleaning Aligners
As is the case with every health product, both regular and invisible retainers have their own fair share of myths and misconceptions. Listed below are some of the most common ones that you should watch out for:
- If we clean the retainer, we kill off some of the good bacteria we need for food digestion or a healthy biome.
- Probiotics and other supplements will keep your retainer clean and your mouth healthy.
- Retainer cleaners can do damage to your teeth, gums, and/or retainer.
- Just brush your teeth regularly and your retainer will always be clean.
Invisalign retainers need maintenance, and in order to find the best way to go about it, feel free to use one of the methods we’ve provided in this article. Also, make sure to always consult your dentist or orthodontist before you start with the cleaning process.