Can I Put Toothpaste in My Retainer Overnight?
Oral Health Blog

Can I Put Toothpaste in My Retainer Overnight?

Putting toothpaste in your retainer overnight is not recommended as it can be abrasive and cause damage. Instead, use a purple persulfate-free retainer cleaner to keep your retainer clean and safe. 

Understanding Retainer Care

Importance of Cleaning Retainers

  1. Hygiene: Retainers accumulate bacteria, plaque, and food particles. Regular cleaning is essential to prevent bad breath, oral infections, and potential health issues.
  2. Maintenance: Proper care extends the lifespan of your retainer, saving you from frequent replacements.
  3. Appearance: Clean retainers remain clear and discreet, avoiding discoloration and buildup that can make them look unsightly.

Common Cleaning Methods

  1. Daily Brushing: Gently brushing your retainer with a soft toothbrush and mild soap or retainer cleaner helps remove bacteria and debris.
  2. Soaking Solutions: Weekly soaking in a retainer cleaning solution or natural alternatives like baking soda and water can help maintain cleanliness and hygiene.

Toothpaste and Retainers

Abrasiveness of Toothpaste

  1. Potential Damage: Toothpaste is designed to clean enamel, which is much harder than the plastic of retainers. Most toothpastes contain abrasive particles that can scratch and damage the retainer's surface.
  2. Bacterial Growth: Scratches on the retainer create an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive, leading to hygiene issues and bad breath.

Overnight Application

  1. Unnecessary Exposure: Leaving toothpaste on your retainer overnight can lead to prolonged exposure to these abrasive particles, increasing the risk of damage.
  2. Chemical Residue: Toothpaste contains chemicals that may not be suitable for prolonged contact with the plastic material of retainers. This can lead to discoloration and degradation of the retainer over time.

Best Practices for Retainer Cleaning

Safe Cleaning Methods

  1. Mild Soap: Use a mild, non-scented dish soap to gently brush your retainer daily. This effectively removes bacteria without causing damage.
  2. Retainer Cleaners: Opt for persulfate-free retainer cleaning tablets for a thorough weekly soak. These are specifically designed to clean retainers without causing harm.

Natural Alternatives

  1. Baking Soda Solution: A mixture of baking soda and water can be used for soaking retainers. Baking soda is a natural cleaner that helps remove stains and odors without being abrasive.
  2. White Vinegar Solution: Soaking your retainer in a solution of white vinegar and water can help disinfect and remove buildup.

Professional Advice

  1. Orthodontist Recommendations: Always follow your orthodontist's recommendations for retainer care. They can provide specific advice based on the type of retainer you have.
  2. Regular Check-ups: Schedule regular visits to your orthodontist to ensure your retainer remains in good condition and fits properly.

Consequences of Improper Care

Damage and Wear

  1. Scratches and Cracks: Using abrasive toothpaste can lead to scratches and cracks in the retainer, compromising its effectiveness and hygiene.
  2. Discoloration: Toothpaste residue can cause discoloration, making your retainer look unsightly and less discreet.

Health Risks

  1. Bacterial Growth: Scratches and improper cleaning methods can create an environment for bacterial growth, leading to bad breath and potential oral health issues.
  2. Allergic Reactions: Prolonged exposure to toothpaste chemicals can cause allergic reactions or irritation in some individuals.


While it may seem convenient to clean your retainer with toothpaste, doing so can cause more harm than good. Toothpaste is abrasive and can damage the plastic, leading to scratches, bacterial growth, and discoloration. Instead, opt for mild soap, retainer cleaners, or natural solutions like baking soda and white vinegar for safe and effective cleaning.

Proper retainer care is essential for maintaining its effectiveness, hygiene, and appearance. Follow the best practices outlined in this article, and always consult your orthodontist for specific recommendations. By taking good care of your retainer, you can ensure it continues to keep your teeth aligned and your smile looking great.

Are you currently using or thinking about using retainer cleaning tablets? It's important to be aware that certain cleaner brands have the potential to cause toxic reactions.

It's crucial to be aware of harmful ingredients hiding in common cleaner brands. One such persulfate, which can pose SERIOUS health risks and is found in almost all leading retainer cleaners brands. Moreover, persulfate's health risks potentially impact respiratory health and skin sensitivities in your family, especially in teens and sensitive individuals. Learn more about the risk of persulfate HERE. 



The content in this article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare provider before making any changes to your health regimen. The author and publisher do not take responsibility for any consequences resulting from the information provided in this article.