Why Does My Retainer Smell?

There are some things that we have on our bodies that will just smell after a period of time.

Why Does My Retainer Smell?

Shirts, socks, underwear, pants, even shoes, all of these things will somehow capture the worst odours of our bodies and keep them until they are thoroughly washed.

However, there are some tools that we do not expect to have a terrible odour, despite us using them all the time.

One of the ones that you definitely don’t want to smell before using it is a retainer.

But why do retainers get smelly? Is it because we smell? Or is it a result of what they do?

In this article, we are going to answer these questions and help to work out how to stop your retainer from smelling.

What Is A Retainer?

Retainers are custom-made pieces of metal or plastic that are fitted to your gum and tooth line.

A retainer will be made and given to you by a dentist after you have had your braces removed. This is for a couple of reasons.

The first is to help your bones rebuild after the braces come off.

See, when you have braces, they are tightened so that your teeth gradually move in position in order to correct them and make them more useful for the patient.

In this circumstance, the teeth will have been corrected, but the bones that hold the teeth in place will now have areas that are loosened and not holding the tooth as tightly.

If left to their own devices, the teeth will just slide back into their original position, thus recreating the problem that braces were intended to fix.

As such, a retainer will be fitted to keep the teeth in place and allow the bones to rebuild and set, allowing the teeth to retain their new position permanently.

There are other circumstances where a retainer might be necessary, like when a single or only a couple of teeth are misaligned.

In this case, a retainer will be fitted instead of a brace to move the teeth back into place over several years.

Lastly, retainers may be given to someone who has a tongue thrust.

This is a condition where the tongue slides through the teeth when someone talks.

Having a retainer specifically fitted will train the tongue not to do this, making it much easier for the individual to speak.

Why Does My Retainer Smell?

Why Does My Retainer Smell?

The reason your retainer smells is the same reason your teeth or mouth would smell if you didn’t brush your teeth.

We all like to think that our mouth is home to teeth, gums, and saliva with nothing else there, but that is simply not true.

There are many things that live in your mouth, just like there are many things that live in or on other parts of your body. We just don’t like to talk or think about them.

Your mouth is full of naturally occurring bacteria and no matter what you do, you cannot remove them all.

These bacteria thrive in the environment of your mouth and as they thrive, they produce waste.

This waste is in the form of gas, but can be other deposits.

This waste is what gives you bad breath if you don’t manage your mouth, in a similar cycle to intense body odour, being mainly from bacterial waste when they feed on our sweat.

When you put your retainer in, that bacteria can transfer to your retainer and since your retainer is transferred between different semi-wet environments, they grow and multiply.

Eventually, they produce so much gas and waste that you can smell it.

These bacteria also contribute to the plaque and tartar that you have on your teeth and gums.

Should either of these two transfer to your retainer or begin to accumulate on your retainer, then it will develop a truly intense odour.

In your mouth, the odour can be contained and localized to just inside your mouth, but when it is outside, the smell spreads and turns the area around it into a truly pungent and terrible smelling place.

How Can I Stop The Stink?

The same way you stop the stink in your mouth: you clean it. Now, this requires a two-pronged approach.

The first you need to do is to make sure you are cleaning your teeth and mouth properly.

The reason your retainer smells is that something in your mouth is causing it to smell.

This could be the accumulation of use over time, but it may also be because you are not brushing for long enough or often enough.

As such, make sure you are doing a thorough brush of your teeth and flossing two times a day, with some gargling of mouthwash added to the mix if you can.

If you are doing this – and cleaning your retainer – then it may be that some food particles that the bacteria are feeding on are getting into the retainer.

To avoid this, brush your teeth after every meal to make sure that very few food particles remain.

The next step is cleaning your retainer. To do this, all you need is an old toothbrush, some mouthwash, and some soapy water.

Take out and rinse the retainer before putting it in a cup of warm, soapy water.

After a few minutes, give it a swirl in the soapy water before rinsing it in some fresh water.

Then, using a cap full of mouthwash, dip your toothbrush in the mouthwash and scrub the retainer gently.

Your retainer is fitted to your teeth, so a toothbrush will be the perfect implement to clean it, just like for your teeth.

Scrub the retainer all over and give it another rinse.

After this, the smell should have abated somewhat and left you with a fresh-smelling retainer.


Retainers smell for the same reason that our mouth smells. They need to be cleaned of the bacteria, plaque, tartar, and food particles that build up within.

As such, giving your retainer a regular clean should help get rid of the worst of the smell.

Andrew Kemp
Latest posts by Andrew Kemp (see all)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *