Lots of retainer cleaning systems are now including sonic cleaning units and advertising increased stain removal and better retainer cleaning with the sonic bath because it helps to clean all the creases and crevices. The two most popular sonic cleaning baths are the Sonicbrite System and the sonic retainer bath, both seen below:
They are both pretty inexpensive, but even though they seem toss around the word ultrasonic a lot, these cleaning baths only vibrates at up to 5800 waves per second, which is not in the ultrasonic range. In order to be truly ultrasonic, they would need to vibrate above 20,000 cycles per second.
There may still be some small benefit to using one of these sonic cleaning baths with your retainers; however, the studies out there that have shown enhanced cleaning effects were done on dentures and performed using true ultrasonic cleaning baths and not sonic cleaning baths.
The biofilm that builds up on retainers (and dentures for that matter), is extremely robust and an ordinary sonic cleanser, while cool looking, probably isn’t doing a whole lot to remove stains and debris from your retainers or clean aligners. Given the fact that I haven’t seen any studies cited to support claims of better cleaning with sonic cleanser and only statements that “it works because customers continue to buy it” makes me pretty suspicious. They also recommend performing an additional cleaning cycle to remove debris, which is just the retainer cleaner working like it is formulated.
If you are really interested in the additional cleansing/antimicrobial effects, you’ll have to go out and get a true ultrasonic cleaning bath. The model doesn’t have to be retainer or denture specific, many jewelry cleansers also will be able to accommodate your retainers and clear aligners. All you have to do is find a cleaning bath that produces anything above 20,0000 sonic waves per second that will fit your retainers. Usually, these ultrasonic baths are a bit more pricely in the $40-60 range, but they are much much sturdier than the sonic retainer cleaners so they will last longer and besides they actually do what the other retainer cleaners claim to do. If you get one that works with Jewlery too, that is just one more thing to make the investment worthwhile.
To make your search a bit easier here is a link to an ultrasonic retainer cleaner that functions at around 42,000 cycles and reasonable on price: Link to the Amazon Page Here
I don’t have the time or funds to try them all out, so if any of you find a ultrasonic model that you particularly like, let me know. Make sure you also use the right retainer cleaner with your ultrasonic bath!