What Is the White Residue on Your Retainers?
Oral Health Blog

What Is the White Residue on Your Retainers?


The white residue on your retainers is often caused by a buildup of plaque, bacteria, or leftover saliva. Regular cleaning with a purple persulfate-free retainer cleaner can effectively remove this residue, keeping your retainers clean and free from buildup.

In this article, we'll delve into the reasons behind this white stuff on your retainers and what you can do about it.

1. Calcium Deposits

One of the most common culprits for the white residue on your retainers is calcium deposits. These deposits can occur when the minerals in your saliva, including calcium, phosphate, and carbonate, crystallize on the retainer's surface. This phenomenon is similar to how limescale forms in kettles or faucets.

2. Plaque and Bacteria

White stuff on your retainer might also be plaque and bacteria. Over time, a thin film of bacteria, food particles, and other debris can build up on your retainer. This biofilm can appear white and is more noticeable on transparent or clear retainers.

3. Candida or Thrush

Candida, a type of yeast, can sometimes grow on the surface of your retainer, leading to white patches. This condition is known as thrush, and it's more likely to occur if you don't clean your retainer regularly or if you've had a recent oral infection. Thrush can also cause a bad taste and odor.

4. Denture Cleanser Residue

If you're using denture cleanser or effervescent cleaning tablets for your retainer, the white stuff might be a residue from these products. Residues from the cleaning solution can sometimes stick to the retainer's surface.

5. Hard Water Deposits

If your tap water is hard and contains a high mineral content, it can lead to white deposits on your retainer. The minerals in the water can build up on the retainer when it's exposed to moisture.

6. Drying Out

When retainers are left out in the open air without being stored properly, they can dry out. As they dry, they might develop white spots or a white, chalky appearance. This is especially true for clear plastic retainers.

How to Deal with the White Residue:

1. Regular Cleaning

The first and most important step to prevent or remove white residue is regular cleaning. Clean your retainer every day using a soft toothbrush and a mild, non-abrasive soap or dishwashing liquid. Brush gently to avoid scratching the retainer's surface.

2. Vinegar Soak

If calcium deposits or mineral buildup are causing the white residue, you can soak your retainer in a solution of equal parts white vinegar and lukewarm water for 15-30 minutes. Be sure to rinse thoroughly afterward to remove any lingering vinegar taste.

3. Mouthwash Rinse

For killing bacteria or yeast that might be causing white patches, you can rinse your retainer with an alcohol-free, non-abrasive mouthwash. This can help disinfect and freshen your retainer.

4. Denture Cleaner

If the white residue is from denture cleanser, try switching to a different cleaning method. If residues persist, consider using a different brand or type of cleanser.

5. Keep Retainers Moist

To prevent retainers from drying out, make sure to store them in a moist environment when you're not wearing them. You can use a storage case or immerse them in a glass of water.


The white stuff on your retainers can have various causes, from calcium deposits to plaque, bacteria, or residue from cleaning products. Regular cleaning and proper care are key to preventing and removing these white deposits. If you're concerned about the white residue on your retainers, consult your orthodontist or dentist for guidance and additional cleaning tips. By maintaining your retainers, you'll continue to enjoy the benefits of your orthodontic treatment while keeping your smile white-residue free.

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.