Clear aligners go in your mouth. That much is obvious. But, have you thought about what that means for these little pieces of plastic? Your clear aligners should be properly cared for, to avoid a build-up of bacteria. Often this bacteria is completely invisible, so you won’t even know it’s there. In the very worst cases, your aligners might feel a little bit slimy to the touch.
Why might you need to clean your aligners with more than soap and water?
Most clear aligners only need to be worn for about two weeks in total. After two weeks, you’ll move on to new trays and won’t need to use your old ones again. This means that for most people, just cleaning aligners with soap and water is usually enough to look after them.
If you want to be more careful, using more than soap and water is the best way to keep aligners clean. This reduces the risk on invisible bacteria that could make you ill or irritate your gums. You’re working hard on a smile you’ll be proud of, so why put it at risk with minimal cleaning of aligners?
Sometimes, cleaning your aligners with soap and water isn’t as effective as you’d hope. It can be hard to get into those little gaps and make sure that you’ve cleaned every bit. If you’ve moved onto retainers at the end of your treatment, good cleaning is even more important. Each set of retainers should last about six months, which is a long time for germs to build up if you’re not cleaning them effectively.
What types of cleaner are available?
There are lots of different aligner, retainer and denture cleaners you can use. All products will do a similar job, no matter what they’re designed to clean. You need a cleaning product that’s safe to use on something that you’ll put in your mouth, so it’s best to use products designed for this purpose. These types of cleaning products are also designed to be gentle with your clear aligners, so they won’t be damaged by abrasive ingredients or things that will weaken their structure.
Aligner and retainer cleaners often come as soluble tablets. These can be put into water, where they’ll dissolve and make a cleaning solution. Other options include pre-made solutions, foams and UV sterilisers.
Here are some of the best aligner and retainer cleaners you can get:
Best aligner and retainer cleaners
One of the most well-known and well-loved cleaners for retainers, also suitable for use on clear aligners, Retainer Brite is effective at removing dirt and grime from clear plastics. This doesn’t just ensure that your aligners are hygienic, but also keeps them free from stains and yellowing.
Retainer Brite is sold in tablet form, with a box containing 36 tablets to last just over a month. This product’s easy to use, as you just dissolve the tablet in a glass and then submerge your aligners.
Taking about 20 minutes to work, Retainer Brite will effectively clean as you’re eating your evening meal. Then, your aligners are ready to go and will be spotlessly clean overnight. The non-abrasive formulation means that this product won’t do damage if it’s left for too long. So, if you’re cleaning your retainers in the morning, it won’t be a problem if you forget them and leave them in the glass whilst you’re at work.
Retainer Brite may be a bit more expensive than some aligner and retainer cleaners, but it’s a lot more effective than many cheaper products and so the extra cost can be worthwhile. Expect to spend about £8 per month on Retainer Brite cleaning tablets.
VITIS products are effervescent tablets that you’ll dissolve in lukewarm water. Use one tablet a day, with a box of tablet lasting just over one month. VITIS tablets contain an antiseptic that’s safe to use on your clear aligners, so they’ll help to remove bacteria whilst keeping your aligners stain-free.
Once you’ve dissolved your VITIS tablet, submerge aligners or retainers in the liquid. VITIS works in just 15 minutes, though if you accidentally leave it for a bit too long it shouldn’t do damage to clear plastics. Most people use VITIS whilst they’re eating, then reinsert aligners after their meal. You need to wear your aligners through the day and night, so it’s very useful that VITIS is so quick and you can get back to straightening your teeth.
If you’re using retainers, you might clean in the morning after you’ve worn them overnight. Don’t worry if you forget to stop cleaning your retainers before you leave the house and go to work. Even if they’re sitting in VITIS all day, there should be no lasting damage to retainers. Of course, cleaning for 15 minutes will be just as effective as leaving them in VITIS for six hours.
Despite a few occasional complaints that VITIS can leave retainers looking slightly cloudy, most reviews are incredibly positive for these aligner cleaning tablets. Effective and odourless, VITIS tablets usually cost about £7 per box. This makes them an affordable choice for day-to-day aligner cleaning.
Fancymay is a less well-known brand of aligner and retainer cleaning tablets. Fortunately, being less well known doesn’t mean that these are less effective. Fancymay tablets clean your aligners whilst removing most bacteria from them, so you can enjoy clear aligners that are safe, odour-free and have no staining.
You’ll receive a box of tablets that are wrapped individually. A box of 36 will last just over a month, but you can also get boxes of 120 tablets if you’d prefer. Once you’ve submerged a Fancymay tablet, and it’s completely dissolved, you can add your aligners or retainers to the liquid and wait as Fancymay gets to work. It takes no more than 20 minutes for your aligners to be properly cleaned, so you can use this as you eat your evening meal or when you’re having a shower in the morning.
Fancymay tablets leave your aligners with a slightly minty fresh taste. Many people like this, as it shows that this product has been cleaning like it should. The mint taste is a bit of reassurance, showing that the cleaner has worked on the aligners when you can’t see the evidence yourself.
A box of Fancymay cleaning tabets costs about £7. This puts them roughly in line with other similar products, though a bit cheaper than the leading brands. You can save a lot of money with a larger box, which costs about £13 for tablets to last almost four months.
Most aligner cleaners are soluble tablets that need to be dissolved in warm water. BlueM is different, as a cleaning foam that’s available to buy in a bottle. A 50ml bottle should last about a month, with larger bottles also available. Expect to pay about £10 for one month, or around £14 for two months.
BlueM Foaming Retainer Cleaner Fluoride Free with Active Oxygen – Oral Foam for Daily Maintenance of Retainers, Gums and Oral Mucosa (2+ Months Supply 100ml)
BlueM gets to work straight away. Just spray the foam onto your aligners and watch as they’re covered and cleaned. The foam removes the invisible bacteria, along with dirt and grime you can’t see.
BlueM foam is safe to have in your mouth. In fact, it can also be sprayed directly into your mouth like a mouthwash. It’s recommended that you add foam to your aligners, then slide them back into place. You can spit out any excess foam once the aligners are in place on your teeth. The BlueM foam will then continue to clean both your aligners and the teeth it’s pressed against. Use BlueM foam twice a day for the most effective results.
If you’re spraying BlueM foam directly into your mouth, it should be left for more than 60 seconds for a chance to clean your whole mouth effectively. You could use the foam to clean your aligners even when they’re inside your mouth, though it will be more effective to remove and reinsert them so the foam cleans the inside of each tray.
Not everyone likes the feeling of a foam product in their mouth, so BlueM is an aligner cleaner that you’ll either love or hate. For maintaining overall dental hygiene, it’s a great tool to add to your bathroom cabinet.
A concentrated denture cleaner, Curaprox can also be used on clear aligners and retainers. It effectively removes any plaque and bacteria, keeping aligner trays clean and stain-free. Unlike other products that should be used daily, Curaprox is recommended for a weekly bath for your aligners.
Curaprox is designed to look after your plastic aligners or post-treatment retainers. It’s gentle on plastic and won’t leave your aligners discoloured, brittle or damaged. It also has a fresh scent, using lemon, eucalyptus oil and sea salt, for aligners and retainers that taste as clean as they are.
Curaprox doesn’t just clean what’s already on aligners or retainers. It also leaves behind a protective microfilm that gets them through the next week of use. This microfilm helps to shield the plastic from any further bacteria, which means that the build-up should reduce over time.
You might feel that a weekly cleaner isn’t right for your clear aligners. After all, most trays are only worn for two weeks at most. Even if that’s the case, Curaprox could be the best long-term choice for your retainers. You should keep your retainers in good condition and wear them for six months before replacing them, so a bottle of Curaprox could keep them clean and free from discolouration long-term.
The DentaDenta UV Steriliser is a different way to keep aligners clean. Rather than using liquids or foams, your aligners will be cleaned with UV light.
DentaDenta UV Steriliser & Sanitiser - Multi Use Steriliser Perfect for - Denture Cleaner - Mouth Guard Cleaner - Retainer Cleaner - Toothbrush Head Storage - Mouth Guard Box
DentaDenta costs a bit more than other aligner cleaning products. At £35, it’s about the same price as a six-month supply of cleaning tablets. But, it can be used as many times as you like and will work as a great long-term option. This is a fantastic investment if you buy it at the start of your treatment, since it will serve you through teeth straightening treatment and long into the future with retainers.
The UV technology cleans your aligners and removes invisible bacteria. DentaDenta will keep your aligners free from stains and prevent any bad odours. It cleans without chemicals, so you don’t need to worry even if you have any allergies.
DentaDenta cleans aligners and retainers in about 10 minutes, is powered by AA batteries and is compact and easy to carry. This means that you can use it at home, on the go, or in a hotel when you’re on holiday. A vast majority of reviews praise the convenience of this UV steriliser, which allows them to clean their aligners when they’re out for a meal or on lunch breaks at work.
Which aligner and retainer cleaner should you choose?
Different people want different things from aligner and retainer cleaners. The most popular choices are cleaning tablets that dissolve in a glass of water. As long as you choose a trusted brand with good reviews, there’s not usually a lot to separate one brand of tablets from another.
For something a bit different, a cleaning foam might be your preferred choice. These aren’t always as effective, as they might wash away quite quickly, but some can be used as a mouthwash and put straight onto your teeth and gums. Using a cleaning foam might clean your aligners whilst also maintaining your overall dental hygiene.
UV cleaners are a bigger investment, costing more to buy initially, but will simply keep working for as long as you need them to clean your aligners and retainers. They’re also handy as they’ll clean on the go, even when you don’t have water and a glass, so you can subtly clean your aligners whilst you’re out for dinner with your friends.
Whichever option you choose, remember that it’s important to rinse your aligners after meals. Never reinsert your aligners after eating, until you’ve cleaned both the trays and your teeth.