How to Clean Your Removable Dental Appliances

The ultimate guide to caring for aligners, retainers, gum shields, night and snore guards, and whitening trays.

If you wear a removable appliance, you might be wondering how to care for it. Your appliance sits inside your mouth and against your teeth, so it quickly accumulates bacteria, plaque and calculus (hardened plaque). Just like you brush your teeth every day, it’s important to clean your appliance every day after each time they’re worn.


There are several types of dental appliances:

  • Aligners: Clear braces, such as Invisalign, that are worn for up to 22 hours a day to straighten teeth

  • Retainers: Worn after orthodontic treatment during the day or at night to ensure that teeth don’t shift over time, thus ruining all the work done by the braces

  • Nightguard/bruxing appliance: Helps you stop grinding your teeth at night

  • Gum shield: Protects your teeth during contact sports

  • Snore guard: Helps reduce snoring during sleep

  • Whitening trays: Custom-made trays to whiten your teeth at home

What happens if you don’t clean your appliance?

Without cleaning your appliance regularly, it will keep collecting bacteria and plaque from your mouth while you wear it. Over time, it may even start to smell or taste funny if you don’t clean it often enough.