Many people may not know how long their appliance will last. How long it lasts, however, depends on what it is designed to do as well as how it’s looked after.

Learn how you can take care of your retainer, aligner or nightguard to ensure it lasts for as long as it is needed to do its job.

How long do retainers, aligners or nightguards actually last?

The life span of your dental appliance will vary widely, as ultimately it depends on what job it’s designed to do. However, you can help ensure your appliance lasts as long as it is supposed to by taking care of it.

How often should my retainer, aligner or nightguard be replaced?

Your dentist will be able to advise on when your appliance needs replacing. So, remember to keep up with your regular dental reviews. 

What signs should I look out for?

In between regular dental reviews, there are a number of signs that your retainer, aligner or nightguard may need to be adjusted or replaced which you should contact your dental professional about.


  • It feels uncomfortable
    If your retainer, aligner or nightguard feels different to how it fitted before, it is important to get it checked by your dentist. 
  • Wear and tear or damage
    Over time, your retainer, aligner or nightguard can become damaged. It may fade, discolor or crack or the shape may become distorted.  It is important to look closely at your removable dental appliance every now and again and always ask your dentist to check if you notice any change.



  • Are there small cracks?
  • Does it feel loose?
  • Does it not fit as it did before?

How can I help my retainer, aligner or nightguard last as long as possible?

The most important thing you can do is clean your retainer, aligner or nightguard on a daily basis.  Using a cleansing solution once a day will help ensure your removable dental appliance is clean.

You may like to read How should I clean my retainer, aligner or nightguard? as a reminder.

It is a good idea to use a case to keep your retainer, aligner or nightguard safe when it is not being worn as well as regularly visiting your dentist so they can check the fit and condition of your removable dental appliance  and the health of your teeth.

What should I do if I break or lose my retainer, aligner or nightguard?

If you have a problem with your removable dental appliance you should contact your dentist as soon as possible and get an appointment. If you have a period where it is not worn, or if it is broken, this may have an impact on the alignment of or safeguarding your teeth. Please ask your dentist for advice on repair or replacement of your appliance.

Can I repair my retainer, aligner or nightguard myself?

Do not be tempted to carry out any repairs or use household glues as many contain substance should not be ingested or be in contact with your mouth. The best thing to do is to always ask your dentist for advice.

Tips to help your retainer, aligner or mouth guard last

A women removing her retainer

1. Always use two hands when removing your appliance

Twisting or pulling on one side can place unnecessary stress on your appliance which may distort, crack or break your retainer, aligner or nightguard.

2. Making cleaning a regular daily habit

Using a cleanser solution followed by brushing with a soft bristled brush will help ensure your removeable dental appliance is clean.

3. Store in a case

Help to protect your retainer, aligner and nightguard when it is not being worn.

4. Keep out of reach of children and pets

Always keep your removable dental appliance out of reach of pets or children.

5. Visit your dentist regularly

Book an appointment with your dentist if your retainer, aligner or nightguard is showing wear or starting to feel less comfortable. Always follow your dentist’s instructions so you know how long to wear it each day and how to clean it so it lasts as long as possible.