Tips for How to Care for Oral Appliances

People that want a straighter, more aligned smile often turn to braces and retainers. In order for oral appliances to work, they must be kept clean to avoid unnecessary wear-and-tear. Here’s how to care for braces and retainers, while also keeping your teeth clean and cavity-free in the process. 


Braces are meant to be clean and free of food-debris so that teeth can remain healthy while the braces are worn. Food buildup can expose teeth to acid assaults that destroy tooth enamel and lead to cavities. 

Brush Frequently 

The best way to keep braces clean is by brushing after each major meal per day for two minutes at a time. By keeping braces clean and free of debris, you can protect the surface and health of your teeth, and keep your brackets and wires in working order. 

Use the Right Cleaning Tools 

Flossing around and underneath braces is difficult, but necessary. Waterpiks and floss-threaders are fantastic tools for keeping braces clean of debris. You can also use a soft, round-bristle toothbrush to clean between your brackets, and get the hard-to reach-areas of your braces.

Swish a LOT of Water 

Meal times aren’t necessarily confined to three rigid blocks per day, people love to snack! When snacking during the day, keep your braces clean by swishing water around to remove any excess food debris left behind. 


Retainer care is all about keeping it bacteria-free, and in good shape so that teeth can go to their intended destination.  

Use the Right Kind of Toothpaste 

You can clean your retainer with a gentle, unscented hand soap and warm water. Or, you can use a non-abrasive toothpaste to gently scrub your retainer to clean it. Be sure to thoroughly rinse your retainer with cool water after scrubbing it. And NEVER use soap with bleach or bleaching agents on any oral appliance or toothbrush that you own. 

Get a Specific Toothbrush to Clean Your Retainer 

Your mouth is packed with bacteria, and sometimes it can be transferred via toothbrush. When cleaning your retainer, use a clean toothbrush that you don’t use on your teeth. This helps ensure that your appliance gets as clean as possible, and keeps it bacteria-free.  

Never Boil Your Retainer 

Some people boil retainers to clean them, but this is really just a good way to ruin your oral appliance. Boiling a retainer can alter its shape and render it useless, which will cost you time and money to replace. 

Don’t Use Mouthwash 

Mouthwash, particularly flavored mouthwash that is colored, can stain and weaken oral appliances and retainers. Never rinse your mouth with mouthwash while wearing your retainer or oral appliance, nor should you attempt to clean your retainer with mouthwash. 

Store Your Retainer with Care 

Don’t leave your retainer exposed on your nightstand while you sleep. Instead, store it in its case or in a clean glass of water overnight.  

Care for Your Appliance

Regardless of your oral appliance, you should take absolute care of it so that it is able to function, and you can reap the benefits of a healthy smile.

Do you think your child needs braces or an oral appliance to adjust their smile? Visit our office! We’d be happy to evaluate the state of their mouth, and offer a comprehensive treatment plan that works for your family.