Can You Eat with Clear Aligners?

Can You Eat With Clear Aligners
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Wondering if you can continue to enjoy your favorite foods during Invisalign or clear aligner treatment? What foods should you avoid? How do you clean your trays after snacking or sipping on sugary beverages? And for how long is it safe to keep aligners out during meals? The answers await.

We will provide handy guidelines to help you balance mealtime enjoyment with achieving your straighter smile goals. Because whether it’s a workday lunch break or Friday night out, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your diet to reap the rewards of clear aligners. Arm yourself with the knowledge you need to maintain your aligners and teeth the right way. Keep calm and eat on – your new smile is well worth it!

What Happens if You Eat While Wearing Your Aligners?

Eating with clear aligners in place can lead to several complications that could potentially disrupt the effectiveness of your treatment and damage the aligners themselves. When you eat with the aligners on, tiny food particles can easily get trapped between your teeth and the aligner. This not only makes it uncomfortable but also creates a breeding ground for bacteria, raising the risk of tooth decay and gum problems.

Additionally, the act of chewing exerts significant pressure and force on the aligners. This can lead to them becoming warped or even cracked, which in turn reduces their ability to precisely guide your teeth into their new positions. Such damage may require replacements, adding unnecessary delays and costs to your treatment.

Another concern is the staining of the aligners. Foods and drinks with strong pigments can leave a visible tint on the clear plastic, making your aligners and, by extension, your teeth look discolored. This diminishes the aesthetics of clear aligners, which is one of their major benefits.

Given these potential issues, it’s strongly recommended to remove your aligners before eating. Doing so helps maintain the integrity of the aligners and supports the overall success of your orthodontic treatment.

Rules about Eating

Always Remove Your Aligners Before Eating

It is important to remember to remove your aligner before eating and drinking anything other than water.  This practice helps prevent staining, discoloration, teeth grinding, and buildup of plaque caused by the sugary residue deposited on the surface of the aligner.

If left in while eating, chewing typically forces small pieces of food into spots where they are difficult to clean thoroughly; thus leading to poor oral hygiene. Removing your aligners before mealtime allows you to enjoy food without worrying about damaging them or worrying about tooth decay caused by leftovers stuck in hard-to-reach places between brackets.

Related post: Drinking with Aligners.

If You Have Aligners on, Don’t Drink Anything Except Water

When wearing aligners, it’s important to primarily drink water and avoid other beverages to prevent any damage or staining. Coffee, for instance, can easily stain the aligners due to its dark color and can leave behind residue in the small spaces of the aligners. Similarly, it’s recommended to avoid sodas, sparkling water, and sports drinks while wearing aligners because their sugar and acid content can stick to the aligners and your teeth, which could lead to dental issues.

For these reasons, it is best to only drink water when wearing aligners and make sure that it is at normal temperature. Adhering to this rule will mean that the aligner will continue to look good and maintain your confidence when wearing it.

Worth Knowing

If you’re unable to remove your aligners before drinking, consider using a straw and allowing the beverage to cool down. This simple step can help preserve the condition of your aligners and ensure they remain in good shape.

Do Not Eat Snacks in Your Aligners

Eating snacks while wearing aligners is a common oversight that can lead to several issues. Snacking with aligners in place can trap food particles under and around the aligner, creating a challenge in cleaning and potentially leading to bacterial growth. Moreover, the act of eating can cause the aligners to move repeatedly, which may result in damage to the teeth. To maintain oral health and the integrity of your aligners, it’s best to remove them before eating any snacks.

Brush Your Teeth after Every Meal

Proper oral hygiene should always be a priority, especially if you are wearing an aligner. It’s really important to brush your teeth every time you eat. This step is essential for removing any food particles and plaque that have accumulated on your teeth during eating. If aligners are put back on without cleaning your teeth first, they can trap these particles and bacteria against your teeth and gums. This can increase the risk of dental problems like cavities and gum disease. Additionally, brushing your teeth regularly keeps your mouth moist which prevents irritation and discomfort from the aligner.

Do Not Chew Gum

It is important to avoid chewing gum while wearing an aligner because the sticky consistency binds itself to the plastic of the aligner, making it difficult to remove.  This can cause damage to occur in the form of cracking or splitting, which can delay treatment and disrupt your desired treatment timeline.

Furthermore, if part of the gum or particles get caught in the aligner or between teeth, it can increase your chances of developing cavities and tooth decay which will require additional dental treatments.

What Can You Eat with Clear Aligners?

The golden rule for eating with clear aligners is simple: you can enjoy any food you like, as long as you remove your aligners before eating. This ensures your aligners stay clean and undamaged, allowing you to indulge in your favorite meals without worry.

However, if you find yourself in a situation where you need to eat but can’t remove your aligners, it’s best to opt for softer food choices. Soft fruits and vegetables such as apples (cut into small pieces), pears, cooked carrots, and sweet potatoes are good options. These foods are gentle on your aligners and teeth. Additionally, soft proteins and cheeses, like hummus, fish, ground beef, and turkey, are also suitable as they’re easy to chew and less likely to stick to your teeth. Choosing these types of foods minimizes the risk of leaving residue behind that could affect your aligner’s effectiveness.

Worth Knowing

The study featured in J Dent Res Dent Clin Dent Prospects revealed that turmeric, saffron, and Kashmiri red chili powder led to the most pronounced staining of clear aligners.

What to Eat at the Beginning and What to Avoid?

When you initially start wearing your aligners, opting for softer, more gentle foods can significantly ease your transition. During the early stages, it’s common to experience some sensitivity in your teeth and gums as they begin to adapt to the new aligners. To accommodate this, eating foods that require minimal chewing, such as soups, smoothies, yogurt, mashed potatoes, and soft-cooked vegetables, can be particularly comforting. Soft fruits like bananas or steamed apples are also excellent choices, providing nutrition without adding stress to sensitive teeth.

On the other hand, certain foods are best avoided during the initial period of wearing aligners. Hard and crunchy items, such as raw vegetables, hard bread, and nuts, can exert undue pressure on your teeth, potentially leading to discomfort. Similarly, sticky foods like chewy candies and caramel can cling to your teeth and aligners, complicating your oral hygiene routine. Additionally, consuming extremely hot or cold foods and beverages might increase tooth sensitivity, making it advisable to consume items at room temperature.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you Eat and Drink with Clear Aligners?

You should only drink cold water when wearing your aligners.  Aligners are designed to be easily removable and stored whilst eating and drinking so there is no reason to have to eat with them in place.

Do I have to Brush my Teeth After Every Meal?

You should always clean your teeth thoroughly after consuming food and drink to ensure you have removed all substances and particles before replacing the retainer.  Cleaning will ensure that your retainer remains free of any particles that could damage it.

What Food to Avoid While Wearing Aligners?

It is not advised to eat anything when wearing aligners.  If this cannot be avoided you should avoid sticky foods or those that require crunching or excessive chewing.


Venkatasubramanian, P., Jerome, M. S., Ragunanthanan, L., Maheshwari, U., Vijayalakshmi, D., Color stability of aligner materials on exposure to indigenous food products: An in-vitro study, J Dent Res Dent Clin Dent Prospects. 2022, DOI: 10.34172/joddd.2022.035. Available online at:

Charavet, C., Gourdain, Z., Graveline, L., Lupi, L., Cleaning and Disinfection Protocols for Clear Orthodontic Aligners: A Systematic Review, Healthcare (Basel) 2022; DOI: 10.3390/healthcare10020340. Available online at:

Aljohani, S. R., Alsaggaf, D. H., Adherence to dietary advice and oral hygiene practices among orthodontic patients, Patient Preference and Adherence, vol. 20, no. 14, pp. 1991–2000, 2020. DOI: 10.1093/ejo/cjaa071. Available online at:

Iza Wojnarowski

Content contributor

Iza is a dedicated content contributor for Toothific. Having worn braces twice and currently using Invisalign to correct a mild overbite, Iza brings a unique perspective to her writing. She spends her time staying updated on the latest dental trends and treatments, ensuring her readers have the most current information for their dental care needs.

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