6 Tips for Taking Care of Your Retainer

At Glander Rochford Orthodontics we LOVE making our patients smile, and to help preserve that stunning smile we provide our patients with a retainer.

There are three different types of retainers:

  • Clear plastic retainer slips right over your teeth and is often worn at bed time. You may hear us call this an Essix retainer in the office. This type of retainer is easy to take in and out of your mouth (similar to Invisalign) so it is easy to keep clean.

  • A permanent retainer also known as a bonded or fixed retainer is a metal wire attached to the back of your teeth. This is not removable, so many people have them in the same place for years.

  • A Hawley retainer is molded out of acrylic to fit right in the roof of your mouth. There is a wire that goes on the front of your teeth keeping the retainer in place. Many times you can choose fun colors for this type of retainer, and because it is removable it is easy to clean.

All three are tools to prevent your teeth from shifting position after completing treatment with braces or Invisalign.

Retainers are a very important part of maintaining your new smile, so we want to make sure all of our patients know exactly what to do to take care of this valuable tool.

6 Tips for Taking Care of Your Retainer

1. Clean it, then store it.

Just like it is important to brush and clean your teeth, it is also important to brush and clean your retainer. To clean your clear plastic retainer or Hawley retainer, make sure it is wet. It is a good idea to brush your retainer out with warm water and a toothbrush after meals if you wear your retainer during the day. Using toothpaste may be too harsh and abrasive for these retainers, so we recommend using a soft toothbrush or denture brush and a mild dish soap for a deeper clean.

We give all of our patients a case for their retainers, so make sure to dry and store it if you are not wearing it.

2. Keep away from heat.

High heat may damage your retainer, so always make sure to use warm water when you are cleaning it.

Also make sure to avoid:

  • Boiling water

  • Microwaves

  • Dishwasher

  • Washing machine

  • Dryer

  • Storing it in the car

3. To soak or not to soak?

You can get your retainer very clean by simply brushing it regularly with warm water.

This research study shows that cleaning your retainer with warm water versus soaking it with a chemical tablet did not significantly reduce the amount of bacteria.  The only type of bacteria affected was “cocci” such as Streptococcus bacteria and Staphylococcus bacteria.

If you choose to soak your retainer, make sure to only soak it for the amount of time listed on the package. Soaking for longer time periods will corrode the material causing your retainer to break.

4. Beware of pets!

Pets LOVE retainers. If you have a furry friend at home, make sure to store your retainer in a spot where your animals do not have access to it.

5. Clean the case.

Clean the case regularly the same way you clean the retainer: with warm water, soft tooth brush and maybe mild dish soap. Make sure to dry thoroughly before storing your retainer in it.

6. Replace when needed.

It is normal to need a replacement retainer, just like you need to replace your favorite pair of shoes. Things we use and wear every day undergo lots of wear and tear.

If you are in need of a replacement you can contact us on our website, by email at, or give us a call at (317) 888-2827.

We proudly serve the Indianapolis and Greenwood, Indiana communities.