Can I use my retainer for my teeth whitening?

Whitening Before and After
Can I use my retainer for my teeth whitening?
December 16, 2021

You’ve finished your braces or Invisalign treatment, you have a beautiful new smile, but now you want those pearly whites to be even whiter! Can you just buy some whitening gel on Amazon and put it in your Essix (clear) retainer we made you? 

Short answer: Maybe.

We used to not recommend using your retainer for teeth whitening because whitening gel functions best when a certain thickness of gel sits on the surface of your teeth. Most products are made with hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, which bleaches teeth by reacting with both surface and deep stains and altering their chemical structure to eliminate the discoloration. 

Why your retainers might not be as effective for whitening your teeth:

Your retainers are made to sit flush against the surface of your teeth. This is what prevents the teeth from moving after you finish treatment. If you place whitening gel in your retainer, and then put your retainer in your mouth, the retainers are so tight that a lot of the gel will be squeezed out of the trays and end up collecting along your gumline. Without gel contacting the surface of your teeth, your teeth will not get any whiter. In addition, allowing the bleach to sit on your gums for an extended period of time can cause severe irritation.

Why the customized whitening trays we make you are ideal for bleaching your teeth:

When we make you bleaching trays, we use a clear retainer material that is more flexible than your normal every-night-for-the-rest-of-your-life retainers, so the gel is able to stay sitting against the surface of your teeth and eliminate staining. Sometimes a little bit will still be expressed out of the tray and along the gums, and we recommend that you wipe this off immediately when you start the bleaching process. We will also instruct you as to how long to wear your whitening trays depending on the strength of the whitening gel we give you. 

We understand not everyone wants to purchase additional aligners specifically for tooth whitening, and so we still give you the option to whiten in the retainers we make you when you finish treatment. If you do use your retainers to bleach your teeth, make sure you can still see a layer of the gel sitting on the tooth surface in the mirror when you place them in your mouth, and wipe off any excess that has been expressed onto your gums. Clean your retainers thoroughly when you’re done bleaching so the gel doesn’t breakdown the retainer material.


If you have any questions about whitening your teeth, and/or you are interested in doing so, give us a call or send us a text at 704-782-5146, or email us at! We look forward to hearing from you soon! 

– Dr. Best