How to clean old retainers

I have been out of braces for about six years now, and stopped wearing my clear retainers about four years ago. I recently dug them up to straighten my teeth again, and saw that they are incredibly dried out and have some sort of white bacteria hardened on them in several spots. How do I go about cleaning them to where they are bacteria-free in general, and usable again?

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Answer: Cleaning retainers

By Sarah h
Dental Professional

More than likely, your retainers will no longer fit.  It is best to clean retainers daily, prior to putting them in a case, which is dark and can harbor bacteria.  Once the plaque and debris has hardened on the retainers, there is not an over-the-counter tartar remover that can effectively remove it.  If you have a cleaning appointment with your dental hygienist in the near future, you can have them cleaned in the ultrasonic with tartar and stain remover.  It is a professional, non-abrasive cleaner that is safe and will not damage the hard plastic.   It may be best to have a new set of retainers fabricated, rather than try to adjust them to fit.  Retainers are generally inexpensive and should be remade about every 12 months to maintain their integrity. 

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