Is a Braces Cleaner Different from an Aligner Cleaner?

 girl with braces


A beautiful smile often involves orthodontic treatment, whether it's traditional braces or modern aligners. However, the methods for cleaning and maintaining these dental devices differ. Many individuals question whether an aligner cleaner is distinct from a braces cleaner. Let's delve into the details to uncover the differences, benefits, and best practices for keeping both types of orthodontic devices clean and pristine.

Understanding Aligners and Braces

Aligners: The Modern Approach

Aligners represent a revolution in orthodontic treatment. They are custom-made, transparent trays designed to gradually shift teeth into their desired position. These nearly invisible aligners offer discretion and convenience during the teeth straightening treatment.

Braces: The Conventional Method

Braces, on the other hand, consist of brackets, wires, and bands affixed to the teeth. They work by applying gentle pressure to guide teeth into alignment. While traditional, they remain an effective treatment for various orthodontic issues.

The Role of Cleaners

cleaning clear aligenrs
An aligner tray with a toothbrush

Whether you're using aligners or braces, proper cleaning is crucial for maintaining oral health and the effectiveness of the treatment. Let's explore the role of cleaners in ensuring your orthodontic devices stay clean and functional.

Aligner Cleaners: Tailored Solutions

Aligner cleaners are specifically formulated solutions or tablets designed to clean and sanitize aligner trays. These cleaners are often gentle, ensuring that the plastic material of the aligners remains undamaged while effectively removing bacteria, plaque, and stains.

Braces Cleaners: Targeted Cleaning

Braces cleaners are usually different from aligner cleaners as they cater to the distinct structure of braces. These cleaners may include special brushes, fluoride mouth rinses, and water irrigators to effectively clean around brackets, wires, and other components of braces.

Different Cleaning Requirements

Aligner Cleaner Needs

Aligners demand a different cleaning approach due to their removable nature. Aligner cleaner solutions effectively eliminate bacteria and odor without damaging the aligners' material. Soaking aligners in these cleaners for the recommended duration, usually a few minutes, helps maintain their clarity and hygiene.

Braces Cleaner Requirements

Braces, being fixed on teeth, require meticulous cleaning around the brackets and wires. Soft-bristled brushes, interdental brushes, and water flossers play a crucial role in removing food particles and plaque around these components. Moreover, using fluoride mouth rinses helps prevent cavities during orthodontic treatment.

Choosing the Right Cleaner

braces cleaner
Close up of a braces cleaner

Factors to Consider

Material Compatibility: Aligner cleaners are formulated to be gentle on the plastic material of aligners, ensuring they remain clear and free from damage. Conversely, brace cleaners focus on effectively cleaning around metal or ceramic components without causing harm.

Cleaning Efficacy: Aligner cleaners must effectively eliminate bacteria and plaque, maintaining the aligners' transparency. Braces cleaners need to target hard-to-reach areas around brackets and wires to prevent decay and staining.

Best Practices for Cleanliness

Aligners Maintenance

Rinse Before Soaking: Rinse aligners before soaking them in an aligner cleaner solution to remove saliva and debris.

Avoid Hot Water: Hot water can distort aligners, so use lukewarm water for cleaning.

Regular Cleaning: Clean aligners daily to prevent bacterial buildup.

Braces Care Routine

Thorough Brushing: Use specialized brushes to clean around brackets and wires at least twice a day.

Flossing Techniques: Employ floss threaders or water flossers to clean between teeth and underwires effectively.

Professional Guidance: Regular visits to a US-licensed orthodontist ensure proper braces care and maintenance.

A research article in the Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology journal examined the pathogens on clear aligners that were changed biweekly over six weeks. They examined three methods:

  • Rinsing with water.
  • Utilizing aligner cleaners combined with brushing.
  • Brushing the aligners independently using toothpaste and a toothbrush.

The study found that using aligner cleaners in combination with brushing was the most effective in cleaning the aligners.


While both aligner cleaners and braces cleaners serve the purpose of maintaining oral hygiene during orthodontic treatment, they cater to different structures and cleaning requirements. Choosing the right cleaner and adhering to proper cleaning practices ensures that your orthodontic device remains clean and hygienic, and functions optimally throughout the treatment duration.

Whether you're using clear aligners or braces, understanding the distinctions between these cleaners and following recommended cleaning routines will not only preserve the longevity of your orthodontic device but also contribute significantly to your overall oral health.

In a nutshell, knowing the specific needs of your orthodontic device and adopting the appropriate cleaning regimen can make a substantial difference in achieving a healthy, beautiful smile.


Q. Are braces cleaners and aligner cleaners interchangeable?

A. No, braces cleaners and aligner cleaners are not interchangeable. Braces cleaners are designed to clean traditional braces with metal brackets and wires, while aligner cleaners are formulated to clean clear, plastic aligners.

Q. Can I use regular toothpaste as an aligner cleaner?

A. It is not recommended to use regular toothpaste as an aligner cleaner. Toothpaste may contain abrasive components that can damage the plastic material of aligners. It also may not effectively eliminate bacteria and prevent discoloration.

Q. How often should I clean my aligners with an aligner cleaner?

A. It is recommended to clean your aligners with an aligner cleaner daily. Ideally, this should be done when you remove your aligners for meals. Regular cleaning helps prevent bacterial buildup, discoloration, and unpleasant odors.

Q. Are there specific ingredients to look for in an aligner cleaner?

A. Look for aligner cleaners with non-abrasive formulations to avoid scratching the plastic material. Additionally, consider products with antibacterial properties for thorough cleaning. Effervescent tablets that create bubbles for deep cleaning are also effective.

Q. Can I consult a US-licensed Orthodontist for aligner cleaner recommendations?

A. Yes, consulting a US-licensed orthodontist is a good idea for personalized recommendations on aligner cleaners. They can provide guidance based on your specific orthodontic treatment plan and ensure that the chosen cleaner aligns with your needs and preferences.

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