Tips for Eating & Drinking with Aligners or Retainers

Orthodontic appliances, like aligners and retainers, are highly effective tools for correcting your dental issues and improving your smile. You can continue to enjoy most of your favorite foods even during your orthodontic journey, by following your dentist’s or orthodontist’s instructions and these tips below.

These tips can help you keep your aligners and retainers clean, comfortable, and most importantly functioning properly throughout your treatment.

Tips for Eating & Drinking when You Have Teeth Aligners or Retainers

Be sure to remove your dental appliances before you eat. Don’t let yourself be swayed by “just a little bite” while wearing your aligners or retainers. Clear aligners are not designed to withstand the powerful force of chewing food, which could lead to them cracking or breaking.

Foods to Avoid or Limit

  • Hard foods – Ice cubes, hard candies, or popcorn kernels can damage your teeth or leave behind a sticky residue that feeds plaque.
  • Stringy foods – Vegetables and meats have a tendency to become lodged between your teeth which can affect the fit of your dental appliances
  • Sticky candy or gum – Jelly beans, caramels, and chewy fruit candy can all pull and tug at your aligners or retainers even damage or break them.

Pro tip: You can clean your dental appliances with Efferdent® while you snack. A three-minute soak is all it takes to clean your aligners or retainers. Also, if you do like to eat the foods above and feel you can limit them but not avoid, just make sure you brush and floss after eating so you don’t trap plaque-causing bacteria between your aligners and teeth.

Drinks To Be Careful With

You might think drinking with a straw would be safe for your aligners or retainers, but that’s not the case. Sugar and acidic drinks can get beyond your dental appliance and sit on your teeth, wreaking havoc on your tooth enamel. Make sure to remove your dental appliances—and this includes sports mouth guards—before you drink anything but water. 

  • Coffee or tea – These can stain your teeth, and aligners and sometimes hot liquids can even warp your appliances.
  • Alcohol, wine, & sugary drinks – Milkshakes, smoothies, and alcohol are chock full of sugar. Sugar can lead to plaque buildup if left to sit on your teeth. It can also wear down your enamel, which can lead to cavities.
  • Soda or carbonated drinks – Dark colas can stain your teeth and any soda can leave behind sugar that can breed cavity-causing plaque buildup.

Short on time to brush? Be sure to rinse teeth and aligners after drinking sugary or staining drinks. Use Efferdent® while you’re enjoying your morning cup of joe to tackle set stains and keep other stains at bay.

Maintain Your New Routine

Making sure to take out your dental appliances before eating and drinking helps keep them clean and free of bacteria and plaque buildup. Proper wear and care of your aligners and retainers paired with a proper oral routine can help keep your teeth healthy. And you don’t have to give up your favorite food and drinks entirely.