Can you eat with retainers?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat with retainers?” and discuss the do and don’t of retainers?

Can you eat with retainers?

No, you cannot eat with retainers. There are two types of retainers: permanent and detachable. Fixed retainers cannot be removed by the patient and are case-specific. To avoid recurrence and make dental hygiene a priority, patients who have completed orthodontic treatment often get removable appliances. You should avoid eating when using detachable retainers.

Aligner orthodontic therapy has been in the spotlight of the recent year. The reported increase in the use of aligners by orthodontists in the United States within a period of 6 to 7 years has reached 15%, while the number of patients receiving treatment with aligners has been nearly duplicated (1).

Keep your teeth straight by using a retainer. You shouldn’t use them if you’re having trouble chewing or swallowing. Dentures are designed for this purpose. Dentures should not be worn when sleeping; on the other hand. 

That’s when you soak them in the appropriate cleansers and take a break from chewing on them. Retainers, on the other hand, should only be worn at night. Except for while you’re eating, of course, It’s a common mistake for individuals to lose their retainers when they take a “meal break.” After eating and cleaning your teeth, put them back in.

As a common orthodontic instruction that is usually delivered to the patients is to take  his retainers out when eating and always put their retainers in their case (2). Retainers and aligners should be used for at least 20–22 hours for each day, just removing them when they are eating, drinking (except plain water), or brushing their teeth (3).

When you have a retainer, what should and shouldn’t you do?

Even while wearing retainers might be a hassle and a pain in the neck, they’re essential for maintaining your dental alignment in the long run. After your braces have been removed, you will most likely be given a retainer to wear. 

Keep your teeth in place with these custom-made devices, which are shaped to your mouth. Maintaining the new position of teeth after braces are removed requires the use of a custom-made, detachable retainer. Orthodontic retainers which are made to be worn after dental braces in order to maintain teeth in their correct position are used to minimize any relapse (4).. Your dental treatment might be put on hold for months if you don’t wear your retainer properly. 

Some practices require that patients wear their removable retainers ‘‘full-time’’ for the first 6 months after debonding, followed by a period during which the appliance wear is restricted to nighttime only. It has also been recommended that retainers be worn ‘‘part-time’’ for as long as a patient has the potential for growth (5).

Preventing dental decay, closing gaps between teeth, and shifting one tooth are just a few of the ways retainers may be utilized after braces treatment. Whatever the reason you have for wearing retainers, there are a few rules to follow. Here are a few examples:

  • As recommended, put them on. Retainers may be worn all day or just at night, depending on your orthodontist’s recommendation.
  • When you’re eating, remove your retainer from your mouth.
  • Wash and dry it every day before storing the equipment.
  • Retainer cleaning solution, denture cleaning solution, or a baking soda and water solution may be used once a week to completely clean it (6).
  • Every time you eat, brush your teeth.
  • You should brush your retainer with toothpaste before you go to sleep or when you get up in the morning. Put your retainer back in its container or in your mouth.
  • For checkups, bring your retainer with you to the dentist. In this way, the doctor can assess if the retainer is still appropriate for you.

Sticky candies, such as taffy and gummy worms, should not be consumed.

  • Always carry a retainer case with you (7).
  • Avoid dropping your retainer into a pocket or purse – the retainer can be damaged.
  • Never wrap your retainer in a napkin – it’s too easy to throw away.
  • Keep your retainer out of the reach of pets – dogs in particular seem to be attracted to retainers, and can quickly chew them into a state of uselessness.
  • Avoid heat – your retainer can become deformed if it’s left on a heater, a hot stove, or in a hot car.

Using Hawley Retainers Properly

At all times, you should be wearing your retainers. Brushing your teeth is the only time you’ll need to take your retainers out. Removable retainers are easy to clean and maintain. Clean your retainers with your toothbrush and toothpaste every time you brush your teeth. When cleaning, do not use water that is too hot. Retainer or denture cleaning pills may be used if you want to soak them.

Retainers may be worn when you’re eating, but it’s recommended. Retainers may be removed if they’re kept in their protective container and put away in a secure location. You should never put your retainers in your pocket unprotected with a napkin or tissue. 

They might be mistakenly thrown away, or they could be damaged. Wearing retainers while eating reduces the risk of their falling out of your mouth.

Do not “flick” the retainers in and out with your tongue, since this might lead to wire damage. Retainers should be kept in a designated area. They should not be strewn over the home in a random fashion. Retainers are a favorite chew toy for dogs! Use their case while they are not in your mouth.

To learn more about eating with retainers click here


In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat with retainers?” and we discussed the do and don’t of retainers?


  1. Iliadi, Anna, et al. Safety Considerations for Thermoplastic-Type Appliances Used as Orthodontic Aligners or Retainers. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Clinical and In-Vitro Research. 2020,13, 1843.
  2. Almuqbil, Salman, and Saeed Banabilh. Postretention phase: Patients’ compliance and reasons for noncompliance with removable retainers. Int J Orthod Rehabil, 2019, 10, 18.  
  3. Srivastava, Rahul, et al. Sequential removal orthodontics: an alternative approach. Radiology, 2017, 2, 32-36.
  4. Andriekute, Alvyda, Arunas Vasiliauskas, and Antanas Sidlauskas. A survey of protocols and trends in orthodontic retention. Progr orthod, 2017, 18, 1-8.
  5. Hyun, Paul, et al. Patient compliance with Hawley retainers fitted with the SMART® sensor: a prospective clinical pilot study. Angle Orthod, 2015, 85, 263-269.
  6. Kiatwarawut, Kanket, Dinesh Rokaya, and Irin Sirisoontorn. Antimicrobial Activity of Various Disinfectants to Clean Thermoplastic Polymeric Appliances in Orthodontics. Polymers, 2022, 14, 2256.
  7. Take care of retainers. American Association of Orthodontists. 2017.