someone holding two retainers

Do Ultrasonic Cleaners Work for Retainers?

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5 min read

Retainers are essential for maintaining the alignment and integrity of our teeth after orthodontic treatment. However, keeping these removable dental appliances clean can be a challenge. Traditional methods such as brushing and soaking may not effectively remove all the bacteria and accumulated plaque. This is where ultrasonic cleaners come into play. In this article, we will explore the effectiveness of ultrasonic cleaners in maintaining retainers' hygiene and the benefits they offer.


What are Ultrasonic Cleaners?

Ultrasonic cleaners have become indispensable cleaning tools within many fields such as jewelry, healthcare and the automotive industry. They are usually a machine that the items wanting to be cleaned are put into and can range in size depending on the industry or user needs. 


When it comes to jewelry, pieces often accumulate dirt, oils, and debris over time, which can be challenging to remove with traditional cleaning methods. The gentle yet thorough cleaning action of ultrasonic cleaners makes them ideal for restoring the luster of precious metals and gemstones without causing any damage. 

Additionally, the ability of ultrasonic cleaners to reach tiny crevices and intricate designs on jewelry pieces ensures a comprehensive cleaning process, leaving no area untouched.


In the automotive industry, ultrasonic cleaners play a crucial role in the maintenance and refurbishment of engine parts. Engine components such as fuel injectors, carburetors, and cylinder heads can build up layers of grime and carbon deposits, affecting performance and efficiency. 

Ultrasonic cleaning offers a non-invasive and efficient solution to remove these stubborn contaminants, ensuring optimal functioning of the engine. The precision and consistency of ultrasonic cleaning make it a preferred method for automotive technicians looking to achieve thorough and reliable results.


Ultrasonic cleaners are also regularly used within the healthcare and dentistry sectors to eliminate the bacteria and sterilize medical instruments and tools.

ultrasonic cleaner and retainer

How Ultrasonic Cleaners Work

Now that we have a basic understanding of ultrasonic cleaners, let's delve into how they work their magic on retainers and other oral appliances. 34% of Americans say they have has some sort of dental intervetion including aligners or retainers, so there are many people who can benefit from them. 

  • During cavitation, the microscopic bubbles collapse near the surface of the retainer, releasing high-pressure jets of liquid. These jets dislodge stubborn debris, bacteria, and plaque that have accumulated on the retainer, even reaching into the tiny crevices that are hard to access with traditional cleaning methods.

It is important to note that while many dental professionals recommend the use of ultrasonic cleaners for retainers, it is crucial to follow the manufacturer's instructions and not exceed the recommended cleaning time to avoid any potential damage to the retainer.


Types of Ultrasonic Cleaners Available

There are different types of ultrasonic cleaners available in the market, varying in size, capacity, and settings. Some ultrasonic cleaners have adjustable power levels and timers, allowing users to customize the cleaning process to suit their specific needs. Dental professionals often recommend choosing a retainer cleaner with a frequency range between 25-45 kHz for optimal results.

At Zima Dental, our ultrasonic cleaning machine, the Dental Pod, uses 42 kHz ultrasonic waves to vibrate the solution and produce million of nano-scale bubbles that work to non-abrasively remove grime, bacteria and plaque that has built up on the retainer. 

two retainers

Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Retainers with Ultrasonic Cleaners

Now, let's walk through a step-by-step guide on how to effectively clean your retainers using an ultrasonic cleaner, such as the Dental Pod.

  1. Start by thoroughly rinsing your retainer under lukewarm water to remove any loose debris.
  2. Fill the ultrasonic cleaner tank with an appropriate cleaning solution recommended by the manufacturer, ensuring it covers the retainer completely.
  3. Place the retainer in the cleaning bath, making sure it is fully immersed in the solution.
  4. Set the timer according to the manufacturer's instructions, typically between 5-10 minutes.
  5. Activate the ultrasonic cleaner and let it work its magic.
  6. Once the cleaning cycle is complete, carefully remove the retainer from the cleaning bath.
  7. Rinse the retainer again under lukewarm water to remove any residual cleaning solution.
  8. Inspect the retainer for cleanliness, and if necessary, repeat the process.
  9. Finally, store your retainer in a clean, dry case to prevent any potential contamination. We recommend the Zima Go which acts as a high-quality case for your retainer as well as a disinfecting, bacteria-fighting device that uses UV and UVA wavelengths to ensure safe sterilization.
a lady biting into a retainer

Benefits of Using Ultrasonic Cleaners for Retainers

Using ultrasonic cleaners for retainers offers numerous benefits over traditional cleaning methods.

Removes Bacteria & Plaque

 Firstly, the cavitation process removes more bacteria and plaque from the retainer's surface and hard-to-reach areas compared to manual brushing and soaking techniques.


Additionally, ultrasonic cleaners are a time-efficient solution. With just a few minutes of cleaning, your retainer can be thoroughly sanitized, saving you valuable time and effort.

Gentle & Non-Abrasive

Furthermore, ultrasonic cleaning is gentle and non-abrasive, ensuring that your retainer remains intact and undamaged during the cleaning process. This is particularly important as damaged retainers may jeopardize their effectiveness in maintaining your dental alignment.


Comparing Ultrasonic Cleaning to Traditional Methods

While traditional methods like brushing and soaking can help remove some surface-level debris, they often fall short in achieving a deep and thorough clean. Ultrasonic cleaners, on the other hand, provide a more comprehensive cleaning experience by effectively eliminating bacteria, plaque, and stains.

A study found that ultrasonic cleaning significantly reduced bacterial contamination on retainers compared to brushing alone. This highlights the superior effectiveness of ultrasonic cleaners in maintaining retainer hygiene.

black dental pod

Expert Recommendations for Using Ultrasonic Cleaners on Retainers

To ensure the utmost effectiveness and safety when using ultrasonic cleaners on your retainers, dental professionals recommend the following:

  • Regularly clean your retainer using an ultrasonic cleaner, ideally once a day or as advised by your orthodontist. If you’ve been wearing your retainer for more than 6 hours, we recommend cleaning it with the Dental Pod.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions and recommended cleaning solutions for your ultrasonic cleaner, such as our Dental Pod Sterilization Tablets.
  • Inspect your retainer regularly for any signs of damage or wear and consult your orthodontist if necessary.
  • Store your retainer in a clean, dry case when not in use to maintain its cleanliness, such as the Zima Go.


In Conclusion

In conclusion, ultrasonic cleaners are an effective and efficient tool for maintaining the cleanliness and hygiene of retainers. They offer a deeper clean than traditional methods, removing bacteria, plaque, and stains from hard-to-reach areas. By following the recommended guidelines and utilizing ultrasonic cleaners regularly, you can ensure your retainers stay fresh and contribute to your overall oral health and orthodontic results.

zima dental pod

Discover More About the Dental Pod

If you wear a retainer and want to ensure it remains bacteria free then take a look at the Dental Pod, an ultrasonic cleaning machine that stops your retainer becoming a breeding ground of pathogens that could lead to serious health risks. Totally engineered for dental health, when paired with our sterilization tablets, your retainer will be left sparkling clean time and time again. 

For more information or if you have any questions, get in touch with the Zima Dental team by clicking here.

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