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5 Easy Ways to Eliminate Bad Smell from Your Retainer

Achieving a perfect smile is a journey, and retainers are loyal companions on the path to lasting results. But let's face it, sometimes those trusty retainers can develop an unpleasant odor. No need to fret!

This post equips you with 5 Easy Ways to Eliminate Bad Smell from Your Retainer and keep them fresh.

5 Easy Ways to Eliminate Bad Smell from Your Retainer

We'll also delve into frequently asked questions to ensure you have all the information needed for optimal retainer care.

So, ditch the nose scrunches and embrace fresh breath with these simple solutions!

Why Do Retainers Get Smelly?

Before diving into solutions, let's understand the culprits behind retainer odor. The primary offender is bacteria. Food particles trapped on the retainer's surface create a breeding ground for these microscopic organisms. As bacteria multiply, they release waste products that contribute to the unpleasant smell.

Here are some additional factors that can worsen retainer odor:

  • Improper cleaning: Not cleaning your retainers regularly allows bacteria to build up.

  • Dry mouth: Saliva helps to naturally wash away bacteria and food debris. Reduced saliva flow can lead to a stronger odor.

  • Smoking and tobacco use: These habits can stain your retainers and contribute to bad breath, which can transfer to your retainers.

  • Not replacing your case: Over time, retainer cases can harbor bacteria as well.

5 Easy Ways to Eliminate Bad Smell from Your Retainers (and Keep Them Fresh!)

Now that we know the enemy, let's combat it! Here are five effective ways to keep your retainers fresh and odor-free:

1. Daily Brushing is Key

Just like your teeth, your retainers require daily cleaning. Here's how to do it right:

  • Rinse your retainers under lukewarm water.

  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a mild, unscented dish soap or a toothpaste specifically designed for retainers. Avoid harsh soaps, abrasive cleaners, or toothpaste with whitening ingredients, as these can damage your retainers.

  • Gently brush all surfaces of the retainer, paying close attention to areas where plaque tends to build up, such as the clasps and inner surfaces.

  • Rinse the retainer thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap residue.

2. Deep Clean Weekly for Extra Freshness

While daily brushing removes surface bacteria, a deeper clean is necessary to remove stubborn plaque and combat lingering odors. Here are two effective methods for weekly deep cleaning:


  • Mix a few drops of mild, unscented dish soap with lukewarm water in a container.

  • Submerge your retainers in the solution for 15-30 minutes.

  • Do not use hot water, as it can warp your retainers.

  • Gently brush the retainers with a soft-bristled toothbrush after soaking.

  • Rinse thoroughly with clean water and air dry completely.

  • WHITE VINEGAR SOAK (Optional):

  • This method is not suitable for all retainers. Consult your dentist before using white vinegar, especially if you have Hawley retainers with metal wires.

  • Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a container.

  • Soak your retainers for 15-30 minutes.

  • Rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove any vinegar residue. The vinegar smell will dissipate upon drying.

  • Air dry completely.

3. The Power of Retainer Cleaning Tablets (Optional)

If you're looking for a convenient option, consider using effervescent cleaning tablets designed specifically for retainers. These tablets are readily available at most drugstores and online retailers

Check out Retainer Brite on Amazon for effervescent cleaning tablets.

Here's how to use them:

  • Fill a container with lukewarm water according to the manufacturer's instructions.

  • Drop the cleaning tablet into the water and allow it to dissolve completely.

  • Submerge your retainers in the solution for the recommended time (usually 15-30 minutes).

  • Rinse the retainers thoroughly with clean water and air dry completely.

4. Don't Forget the Case!

Just like your retainers, their case can harbor bacteria. Here's how to keep your case fresh:

  • Wash the case daily with warm water and mild soap.

  • Allow the case to air dry completely before storing your retainers.

  • Consider replacing your retainer case every 3-6 months, especially if you notice any discoloration or lingering odors.

5. Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial for overall retainer freshness. Here are some tips:

  • Brush your teeth and tongue twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste. This helps remove food particles and bacteria from your mouth, reducing the amount that gets transferred to your retainers.

  • Floss daily to remove plaque and food debris from between your teeth, further reducing the bacteria load in your mouth.

  • Consider using a mouthwash that is alcohol-free and specifically formulated for sensitive teeth. This can help freshen your breath and may help to reduce bacteria on your tongue, which can contribute to retainer odor.


People Also Ask

Q: Can I use baking soda to clean my retainers?

A: While baking soda is a natural cleaning agent, it can be abrasive and may damage your retainers. It's best to stick with the methods mentioned above.

Q: How often should I replace my retainers?

A: The lifespan of your retainers depends on the material, how well you care for them, and how often you wear them. Typically, retainers need to be replaced every 6-12 months. Consult your dentist for specific recommendations.

Q: My retainers feel sticky after cleaning. What can I do?

A: This could be a sign of soap residue buildup. Ensure you're rinsing your retainers thoroughly after cleaning. You can also try using less soap or switching to a different cleaning solution.

Q: My retainers are stained. Can I whiten them?

A: Avoid using harsh bleaches or whitening products on your retainers, as they can damage the material. If your retainers are stained, consult your dentist for cleaning options.

Q: I lost my retainer case. Can I store my retainers in a plastic bag?

A: It's not ideal to store your retainers in a plastic bag as it can trap moisture and promote bacterial growth. If you've lost your case, try to replace it as soon as possible. In the meantime, you can store your retainers in a clean, cool, dry place.


Maintaining Fresh Retainers: A Long-Term Commitment

By incorporating these simple practices into your routine, you can keep your retainers fresh and odor-free, ensuring a confident smile and optimal oral health. Remember, consistency is key!

Bonus Tip: Fresh Breath on the Go!

For those times when you're on the go and need a quick breath freshener, consider using an alcohol-free mouthwash specifically designed for sensitive teeth. Opt for a travel-sized version for added convenience.


With a little effort, you can keep your retainers feeling fresh and odor-free. By following these tips and maintaining good oral hygiene, you can ensure a confident smile and optimal retainer longevity. Remember, a clean retainer is a happy retainer (and a happy retainer makes for a happy smile!)

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional dental advice. Always consult with your dentist for personalized recommendations regarding retainer care and oral hygiene practices.
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