What happens if you eat while having Invisalign?

Having Invisalign aligners means having clear, removable braces that help straighten your teeth. While they are convenient and discreet, Invisalign wearers need to take them out to eat and drink anything other than water. So what exactly happens if you eat with Invisalign in?

Can you eat with Invisalign in?

Technically, you can eat while wearing Invisalign aligners. However, this is not recommended by orthodontists for several reasons:

  • Food can get trapped around and under the aligners, leading to bacteria buildup and tooth decay.
  • Eating with aligners in can cause damage to the aligners, resulting in cracks or breakage.
  • The aligners will become cloudy and stained from food and drink, resulting in an unappealing look.
  • Leaving aligners in while eating reduces their effectiveness at shifting your teeth into proper position.

For these reasons, Invisalign providers recommend removing your aligners anytime you eat or drink anything other than water. The aligners need to stay in your mouth for 22 hours a day to work properly, so limiting removal to meal and snack times helps ensure you hit that 22 hour target.

Effects on Oral Health

Eating with Invisalign aligners in place can lead to a few problems for your oral health:

  • Tooth decay: Food particles can get lodged in and around the aligners, causing plaque buildup and bacterial growth on your teeth. This increases your risk of cavities, gum inflammation, and other dental issues.
  • Bad breath: Trapped food around your teeth inevitably leads to bad breath. The aligners harbor bacteria, causing constant halitosis.
  • Gum irritation: Aligners pressing food against your gums can cause soreness, cuts, and other gum irritation.

During your time with Invisalign, it’s critical to maintain excellent oral hygiene to prevent dental problems. Brushing after each meal and using mouthwash helps keep your mouth clean when aligners are out for eating.

Effects on Aligners

In addition to hurting your oral health, eating with Invisalign aligners in can damage the aligners themselves. Some issues you may experience include:

  • Cracks: Biting into hard or crunchy foods can cause cracks in the aligners.
  • Breakage: Applying too much pressure while chewing may cause the aligners to split or shatter.
  • Warping: Heat from hot foods or drinks can warp and deform the shape of the aligners.
  • Stains: Foods and drinks, especially dark-colored items like coffee, tea, wine, berries, and tomato sauce, can stain aligners.
  • Cloudiness: Even clear fluids like soda and juice can leave cloudy deposits on aligners.

Damaged aligners mean ordering replacement sets, resulting in added costs and delays to your treatment. Some stains and cloudiness can be cleaned with denture cleaners, but severely damaged aligners need to be replaced entirely.

Effects on Treatment

Wearing Invisalign for less than 22 hours per day reduces the effectiveness of treatment. Here’s what happens if you regularly eat with aligners in place:

  • Your teeth shift more slowly into corrected alignment.
  • You experience slower gap closures.
  • Your treatment time is extended, often for several more months.
  • You may experience some regression where teeth shift back slightly.
  • More aligner sets are required, increasing overall treatment cost.

Removing your aligners for meals and snacks also keeps the plastic from warping due to food heat, helping ensure the aligners still fit snugly against your teeth.

Best Practices for Eating with Invisalign

To avoid problems, follow these best practices around eating while wearing Invisalign:

  • Remove aligners: Take aligners out carefully whenever you eat or drink anything aside from water.
  • Brush after eating: Brush and floss after eating before putting aligners back in.
  • Rinse aligners: Rinse off aligners before putting them back in your mouth after eating.
  • Clean weekly: Soak aligners weekly in denture cleaning solution to control bacteria and odors.
  • Avoid staining foods: Curry, tomato sauce, berries, and other staining items can discolor aligners.

Following these simple guidelines helps keep your aligners and teeth clean while ensuring proper wear time for successful Invisalign treatment.

What if you accidentally eat with Invisalign in?

Occasional accidents happen – you forget to remove your aligners before a meal or snack. Here’s what to do if you eat with your Invisalign trays still in place:

  1. As soon as you realize, carefully remove the aligners and clean your teeth and the aligners.
  2. Brush and floss your teeth well after eating to remove any trapped food particles.
  3. Rinse the aligners under cool water – do not use hot water as it can warp the plastic.
  4. If there are signs of damage like cracks or warping, call your orthodontist for advice.
  5. Put the clean aligners back in and be vigilant about removing them for the rest of your meals that day.

Accidentally eating with aligners in once won’t derail your Invisalign treatment. But letting it become a habit can lead to oral health and aligner problems. Be careful about Invisalign wear when eating for the best outcome.

Can you drink anything other than water with Invisalign in?

Drinking anything aside from water with your aligners in place is risky. Some exceptions include:

  • Black coffee and tea: Since these contain no sugar and have minimal staining risk, they are sometimes allowed. But they can stain over time.
  • Clear alcoholic drinks: Vodka and gin may be permitted in moderation, but alcohol causes dry mouth which increases bacteria.
  • Iced beverages: Iced tea, black coffee, and even clear soft drinks are lower staining risks due to being chilled. But sugar risks remain, and ice can damage aligners.

Check with your orthodontist for their specific guidelines on drinking with Invisalign in. Most advise drinking water only with aligners in place.

Tips for eating and drinking with Invisalign

Adjusting meal and snack habits takes time when you first get Invisalign. Here are some top tips for managing food and drink intake:

  • Have a designated Invisalign case to keep aligners in when eating.
  • Remove aligners before you start cooking or sit down at restaurants.
  • Rinse your mouth after eating before putting aligners back in.
  • Avoid chewing gum, hard candy, popcorn, and other sticky foods.
  • Cut food into small pieces to avoid excessive biting pressure.
  • Take smaller bites and chew slowly and gently, especially if eating something crunchy.
  • Set phone reminders to take your aligners out before meals.

With some new habits, eating and drinking with Invisalign can become second nature. Just take care removing aligners first to avoid problems.

Common questions about eating with Invisalign

Can I drink hot coffee with Invisalign?

Drinking piping hot coffee with your aligners in can warp or distort the plastic. Let coffee cool down first before sipping with aligners in place. An iced coffee may be safer if kept very cold.

Is dark soda okay to drink with Invisalign?

Sugary dark soda like cola can badly stain your Invisalign trays over time. Drink these beverages only with aligners removed.

Can I eat gum or chewy candy with aligners?

Avoid chewing gum, caramel, taffy, gummies, and other sticky candies with Invisalign in. They can bend or dislodge aligners and adhere to the plastic.

Are hard foods prohibited?

Crunchy raw veggies, nuts, popcorn, seeds, and other hard foods can damage aligners. Either avoid them or cut into small pieces before chewing gently.

Can I drink wine with Invisalign?

Red wine is quite staining, so drink cautiously with aligners in. Chilled white wine or champagne are lower risks for staining.

Is orange juice allowed?

Acidic, sugary orange juice can erode tooth enamel. Drink juice only with aligners out and brush/rinse right after.

Can I eat fruits like berries?

Berries and some other fruits like cherries and pomegranates stain badly. Eat them carefully without aligners or avoid until after treatment.


Eating and drinking with Invisalign aligners in your mouth is strongly discouraged. Removing the aligners prevents damage to them and your teeth while ensuring proper wear time. With some new habits around managing meals, you can successfully wear Invisalign without complications. Brushing and cleaning properly after eating keeps your mouth healthy during treatment. If accidentally eating with aligners in, take them out ASAP and clean thoroughly before putting them back in.

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