A women drinking a cup of tea


Ever wondered what it’s really like to wear a retainer? For many people, there may be some subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) ways that their life is impacted.

We spoke to two retainer wearers, Emma and Bethan, and asked them to share their experiences of wearing aligners and retainers. We hope they’ll give you a better idea of what to look out for so that you’re better prepared for your journey ahead.


Mornings are usually busy times, especially during the working week. If you wear an aligner or retainer then this can add time to your morning routine, unless you have some smart ways around it. Adapting to the changes in routine is an essential part of getting used to wearing a retainer, something Bethan and Emma know a lot about.

For Emma these changes started first thing in the morning, “I hate bad breath and sometimes when I’d wake up in the mornings, I’d take my aligner out and be quite conscious about cleaning it a lot.”

Thorough daily cleaning is key and this can take time and patience at the beginning. However, with a cleansing tablet, such as Polident Retainer & Mouthguard Cleanser, you can soak your retainer in a glass with the cleansing solution for a few minutes, allowing you to get on with something else. Then when you return, just brush the retainer and rinse well with water.

You can find out more about cleaning your aligner or retainer here and about dental appliance cleaning tablets here.

Whatever you do, don’t rush to clean your retainer or aligner before heading out of the front door to get to work. They’re fragile, as Emma discovered, “I wish people had told me…I broke two by cleaning them in a rush.”


For Emma and Bethan, presentations are part of their daily working life. This brings its own challenges as Emma explains, “I used to take my retainer out, but sometimes you forget and you’re in this meeting and you don’t have your case. Now you have to present with your retainer in and you can’t open your mouth properly. You’re quite self-conscious when you’re talking.”

This can be daunting when first wearing a retainer as your mouth adjusts. “First couple of weeks was difficult for sure. It was really weird.” recalled Emma.


As Emma discovered, some of the things you take for granted when not wearing a retainer, require a little more attention, like a mid-morning pick-me-up, “At about 11 o’clock I’d have a coffee or tea or something like that. Sometimes I’d have a snack at the cafeteria, but again I’d have to go…and take out my retainer.”


When eating out, finding the right time and place to take out your retainer can make mealtimes quite stressful. Planning when and where to take out your retainer, deciding when and where to clean it while also deciding what you’ll eat, talk about with your colleagues or boss can be a bit of a tall order.

Bethan, however, found a more direct approach suited her, “I would just say it straight out, quite openly and candidly, ‘I need to go to the restroom, brush my teeth and put these back in, I’ll be right back.’” She even found that she’s not the only one, “I’ve gone into the restroom in nice restaurants and seen people literally brushing them over the sink and putting them back in! I’m like, yep, I’ve been there and it’s fine.”

Sometimes, however, simple things like popping into a restaurant can have its issues, as Emma discovered, “I forgot to take my travel case out with me when I went to a diner. So, I put the retainer in tissue paper next to me at the table. I completely forgot about it, left it on the tray and then put the tray in the bin. That was a bit of a nightmare.”


When tempted by snacks and treats, Emma found it better to weigh up whether it’s worth the indulgence, “It’s so awkward. If you’re in the office and someone whips out some chocolate and you’re like, ‘Yeah, I’ll have one!’. Then you have to actually think, is it worth it? Because you have to go to the restroom and take it out” But as Bethan says, there’s also a handy upside to not being able to snack so easily, “It totally stopped me snacking.”


When it comes to hitting the town, it pays to be prepared to help avoid lost or broken retainers. “I make sure I’m really aware of the retainer, I’m not too silly and I’m not going to lose it. That was always at the back of my mind.”

Planning which bag or pocket to keep your retainer case in is also a good idea. Plus, some people find it helpful to have a spare case so that you’ve always got one to hand if you need it.


If you’re a light sleeper, like Bethan, then some restless nights may be expected when first wearing an aligner or retainer. For Bethan these passed quickly, “I’m a poor sleeper anyway so the feeling of something new in your mouth was slightly disruptive for about a week and then your body just gets used to it really easily.”

For Emma, her simple night-time routine has kept things running smoothly, “When you get home…you clean it and brush it and put it back in for the night.”

Importantly, remember to wear your aligner or retainer as advised if you want to get the desired effects.

Despite the adjustments they’ve made to their lifestyles, for both Bethan and Emma, it’s all been worthwhile. We’d like to thank Emma and Bethan for sharing their stories and hope that you’ll find them useful.