How to clean your retainer and night guard

Spring cleaning isn’t just for your home. Your retainer and night guard can always stand a good refresh, which is easier to do if you make cleaning them a habit. These tips can help you keep them clean every day.

Why do your retainers and night guards need cleaning anyway? Just like your teeth, your retainer and night guard get covered with bacteria, plaque and tartar that contribute to things like cavities and gum disease.

Wash your hands

Before you even touch your retainer or night guard, scrub those hands. Handling them with dirty hands could mean transferring germs and bacteria right back onto your freshly cleaned oral health gear.

Brush your teeth before use

Always brush your teeth before popping your retainer or night guard in. Just like with dirty hands, a dirty mouth will leave your retainer and night guard covered in bacteria. 

Rinse before and after use

Always make sure to rinse your retainer or night guard before putting them on and after taking them off. Don’t use hot water, because it can warp the shape.

Brush your retainer and night guard

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to brush your retainer or night guard before use. For retainers, make sure to check with your dentist or orthodontist before using toothpaste, as it can be too abrasive for some retainers. If it’s safe to use toothpaste with your retainers, make sure to only use non-whitening toothpaste.

If you wear your retainer while eating, make sure to brush it and your teeth with a soft-bristle toothbrush after meals.

Soak in a special solution

Every so often, your retainer or night guard may need a deeper clean. When this happens, try mixing water with baking soda, white vinegar or denture cleanser and let it soak for about 20 minutes at a time.

You might be wondering how you can know it’s time for a deep clean. If it starts to smell bad, taste odd, look cloudy or if you see a film or white spots on it, it’s time for a deep clean. However, you can absolutely clean them more often.

Store in a protective case

Store your retainer or night guard in a protective case. To prevent bacteria growth, make sure your case stays dry and has holes for ventilation. You may also consider washing your case once a week.