Why Can't You Drink with Clear Aligners?
Oral Health Blog

Why Can't You Drink with Clear Aligners?

You can't drink with clear aligners because beverages, especially those with sugar or acid, can stain or damage the aligners and promote bacteria growth. To keep your aligners clean and safe, use a purple persulfate-free retainer cleaner. This cleaner removes buildup and stains without harsh chemicals, ensuring your aligners stay clear and hygienic.

The Basics of Clear Aligners

How Clear Aligners Work

Clear aligners are custom-made, transparent plastic trays designed to fit snugly over your teeth. They work by applying consistent, gentle pressure to gradually shift teeth into the desired position. Typically, a new set of aligners is used every two weeks to continue the progression towards a straighter smile.

Importance of Following Guidelines

For aligners to be effective, they must be worn for 20-22 hours a day. This means removing them only for eating, drinking anything other than water, and performing oral hygiene tasks. Following these guidelines is crucial for achieving optimal results in the shortest possible time.

Reasons to Avoid Drinking with Aligners

Staining and Discoloration

Clear aligners are made from transparent plastic, which can easily become stained by colored beverages such as coffee, tea, wine, and soda. When aligners get stained, they lose their near-invisible quality, defeating one of their primary benefits. Even clear beverages, like white wine or clear sodas, contain acids and sugars that can cause discoloration over time.

Increased Risk of Tooth Decay

When you drink anything other than water while wearing aligners, sugars and acids from the beverages can get trapped between your teeth and the aligners. This creates a breeding ground for bacteria, leading to tooth decay and cavities. Saliva, which helps neutralize acids and wash away food particles, is less effective when aligners are in place.

Potential for Aligner Damage

Hot beverages like coffee or tea can warp the plastic material of the aligners, compromising their fit and effectiveness. Even moderately warm drinks can cause slight warping, which can disrupt the gradual movement of your teeth.

Hygiene Concerns

Drinking with aligners in can lead to the buildup of residue and plaque, which can cause bad breath and gum disease. The aligners themselves can become a hotspot for bacteria, leading to potential oral health issues.

Managing Your Aligner Routine

Timing Your Meals and Drinks

Plan your meals and drinks around your aligner schedule. Remove your aligners before consuming anything other than water, and be sure to brush your teeth before reinserting them. This will help maintain both the cleanliness of your aligners and your oral health.

Hydration with Water

Staying hydrated with water is not only good for your overall health but also helps keep your mouth clean. Drinking water while wearing aligners helps rinse away food particles and bacteria, reducing the risk of decay and bad breath.

Regular Cleaning Routine

Clean your aligners each time you remove them to eat or drink. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and clear, unscented antibacterial soap or a specially designed aligner cleaner. Avoid using toothpaste, as it can be abrasive and scratch the aligners, making them more visible.

Carry a Cleaning Kit

Keep a small aligner cleaning kit with you when you're on the go. Include a travel-sized toothbrush, toothpaste, and a case for your aligners. This ensures you can clean your teeth and aligners after meals, no matter where you are.

Alternatives to Common Beverages

Coffee and Tea

If you're a coffee or tea drinker, consider consuming these beverages during your aligner-free time. Drink your morning coffee before putting in your aligners, and brush your teeth afterward to remove any residual stains.

Sugary and Acidic Drinks

Limit your intake of sugary and acidic drinks like sodas, juices, and sports drinks. These beverages can be particularly damaging to both your teeth and aligners. If you do indulge, ensure that you remove your aligners and clean your teeth before reinserting them.


Alcoholic beverages, especially those with high sugar content like cocktails and beer, can cause staining and increase the risk of decay. Drink these beverages without your aligners and follow up with thorough oral hygiene.

Tips for Success

Consistency is Key

The effectiveness of clear aligners largely depends on how consistently you follow the guidelines. Wear your aligners for the recommended 20-22 hours a day, remove them for meals and drinks, and maintain excellent oral hygiene.

Regular Dental Checkups

Regular visits to your orthodontist are crucial for monitoring your progress and making any necessary adjustments. Your dentist can provide personalized advice to help you achieve the best results.

Stay Committed

Remember that the restrictions on drinking with aligners are temporary but essential for achieving your goal of a straighter, healthier smile. Stay committed to the process and follow the guidelines diligently.


Clear aligners offer a convenient and aesthetically pleasing way to straighten your teeth, but they require careful adherence to guidelines, particularly when it comes to drinking. Avoiding beverages other than water while wearing aligners is crucial to prevent staining, decay, and damage. By planning your meals and drinks, maintaining a rigorous cleaning routine, and following your orthodontist's advice, you can ensure the success of your clear aligner treatment and enjoy a beautiful, healthy smile.

Are you currently using or thinking about using retainer cleaning tablets? It's important to be aware that certain cleaner brands have the potential to cause toxic reactions.

It's crucial to be aware of harmful ingredients hiding in common cleaner brands. One such persulfate, which can pose SERIOUS health risks and is found in almost all leading retainer cleaners brands. Moreover, persulfate's health risks potentially impact respiratory health and skin sensitivities in your family, especially in teens and sensitive individuals. Learn more about the risk of persulfate HERE. 



The content in this article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare provider before making any changes to your health regimen. The author and publisher do not take responsibility for any consequences resulting from the information provided in this article.