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How Long Do Removable Dental Appliances Last

Many people believe that a removable dental appliance is a one-time investment, which will last forever. However, how long it lasts will largely be dependent on you. Learn how you can help take care of your retainer, aligner or mouth guard to ensure it lasts for as long as possible.

How long do retainers, aligners or mouth guards actually last?

Depending on the type of removable dental appliance you have, it should last for many years. However, the life span will vary widely for everyone and your dental professional will determine if there is a change needed, as ultimately this will be dependent on how well you take care of your retainer, aligner or mouth guard, barring any accidents.

How often should my retainer, aligner or mouth guard be replaced?

It is less about how many years of wear you get out of them and more about when is the right time to replace it for the health and function of your mouth. It is a good idea to get your removable dental appliance checked regularly, especially if it no longer fits as well as before, so that it can be adjusted or replaced if needed.

What signs should I look out for?

There are a number of signs that your retainer, aligner or mouth guard may need to be adjusted, cleaned or replaced.


  • It feels uncomfortable
    If your retainer, aligner or mouth guard feels loose, or not as tight as before, it is important to get it checked by your dentist 
  • Wear and tear or damage
    Over time, your retainer, aligner or mouth guard can simply wear down. The acrylic components may discolor or crack or the shape may become distorted. It is very important to examine your removable dental appliance closely every now and again, and always ask your dentist to check if it still fits if you notice any change.


  • White spots
    Any spots on the appliance should be brought to the professionals’ attention. 
  • Bad tastes or odors in your mouth
    Bad smells or taste can be a sign that the appliance could need to be professionally cleaned. If a bad taste and smell persist, even after effective cleaning, please visit your dentist for a check-up and mention what you have noticed. Learn more about Why it is important to keep retainers, aligners and mouth guards clean.


  • Are there small cracks?
  • Does it feel loose?
  • Does it not fit properly anymore?
  • Are you unable to remove white spots?

Always check with your dental professionals.

How can I make my retainer, aligner or mouth guard last as long as possible?

The most important thing you can do is clean your retainer, aligner or mouth guard well every time it is removed. Using a cleansing solution once a day will also help to ensure your removable dental appliance is always clean. You may like to read How should I clean my retainer, aligner or mouth guard? as a reminder. Your dental professional will most likely provide a case for your retainer, aligner or mouth guard to keep it 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 as well as the health of your teeth.

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

If you have a problem with your removable dental appliance you should contact your dentist as soon as possible. If you have a prolonged period where it is not worn, or if it is broken, this may have a negative impact on your teeth and cause them to move. Dependent on the extent of the damage, your dentist will be able to determine if your removable dental appliance is repairable or needs to be replaced.

Can I repair my retainer, aligner or mouth guard myself?

Contact your dental professional as soon as possible and request an appointment.

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 places unnecessary stress which may cause your retainer or mouth guard to warp or crack.

hands rinsing a dental retainer under water

2. Making cleaning a regular daily habit

Alongside gentle brushing, using a cleanser solution will help ensure your removable dental appliance is always clean.

dental retainer storage case and retainer

3. Store in a case

Help to protect your retainer, aligner and mouth guard when it is not in use.

A dog tugging on a cloth

4. Keep out of reach of pets

Pets could damage your removable dental appliance so keep it out of their reach when not in use.

5. Visit your dentist regularly

Book a check-up if your retainer, aligner or mouth guard is slightly worn or starting to feel less comfortable and always follow your dentist’s instructions so you know how long to wear it each day and how to clean it properly so it lasts as long as possible.