Your Essential Guide to Do’s & Don’ts for Aligners, Mouth Guards, and Retainers

Dental appliances such as aligners, mouth guards, and retainers are essential tools for correcting dental problems and improving your oral health. They require proper usage and care to ensure they help protect or straighten your teeth and last as long as expected. So, it’s important to understand what to do and not to do with your dental appliances in order to help you maintain your smile and keep your teeth healthy while preventing the need for costly replacements.

Do’s & Don’ts for Aligners, Mouth Guards, and Retainers


  • Take out your retainer, mouth guard, or aligner to eat or drink. (You can drink water with your appliance still in.)
  • Rinse your dental appliance and your mouth before putting it back in after eating or drinking.
  • Floss, brush your teeth, and clean your appliances after eating and drinking when possible.
  • Deep clean your dental appliances often. Efferdent has four different cleansers specially formulated for appliances.
  • Keep your dental appliances stored in a safe container—never a napkin! You don’t want to lose or accidentally throw away your appliance.
  • See your dentist or orthodontist regularly. Regular checkups are key to keeping your teeth and gums healthy and keeping any corrective processes (like straightening with aligners or retainers) on track.


  • Don’t use unapproved or abrasive cleaners on your aligners, mouth guards, or retainers. Things like mouthwash, bleach, or vinegar are major no-nos.
  • Don’t try to scrape off stains. Scraping your aligners, mouth guards, or retainers can leave grooves or cracks where food or bacteria can get stuck. Use Efferdent to tackle tough or set stains.
  • Don’t boil your retainer or mouth guard. Boiling to get the right fit the first time for store-bought mouth guards is the only time you should boil your dental appliances. If you boil a fitted retainer, you could overheat the plastic or metal and ruin your custom fit.
  • Don’t rinse or clean your dental appliances in boiling or very hot water for the same reason as above.
  • Don’t eat any food while wearing your dental appliances. Some foods (and drinks) can stain opaque or clear retainers, aligners and guards, and chewing can damage the appliance.
  • Don’t forget to put your aligners back in after eating or drinking. 22-20 hours per day of wear is the recommended time for clear aligners, while retainers need to be worn per your dentist’s instructions. If you don’t put in the recommended time, you may not get the desired results.
  • Don’t leave them within reach of your pets at mealtime or anytime. No matter how clean your mouth or aligner is, your pup might find it hard to pass up chomping on your retainers.
  • Don’t chew tobacco, smoke, or vape with your dental appliances in, and rinse your mouth out well before you put them back in.

The better you are at following your treatment plan and dos and don’ts like these, the better chance you have at getting the results you want in the desired time.

Always ask your dentist or orthodontist any questions you have about cleaning and care of your dental appliances. With proper care and attention, you can achieve optimal oral health and the smile you’ve always dreamt of.