Can you drink coffee with retainers? | Orthodontists Advice

As coffee lovers, we always go the extra mile to get our caffeine fix. It may be just the perk up you need to get you through the day or it could be the taste alone that you’re craving. As much as you like coffee though, do you need to abandon it when you also want a straight smile? Keeping your teeth clean can become more challenging once they have been fitted with retainers, removable or permanent. 

The last thing you want is a perfectly straight smile with beige-tinted coffee stained teeth. So the question is, can you drink coffee with retainers?  In this article, we hope to answer your question and offer some advice on how to effectively clean your teeth and retainer.

Remove coffee stains from braces

What happens when you drink with retainers in?

Drinking any liquid without retainers isn’t normally an issue. Not only will the liquid wash over your teeth temporarily, but a good scrub with a toothbrush in the morning and at the end of the day will see that any residue is removed. The same however, cannot be said for those wearing retainers. Traditional metal or ceramic retainers can make drinking coffee and other liquids slightly complicated. 

Drinking coffee, tea, soda, red wine or any other dark colored beverages can make you teeth and the brackets on your retainers vulnerable to staining.  To solve this problem, Straightset Orthodontics recommend steering clear of coffee, tea and any other liquids other than water whilst you are regularly wearing retainers.

Can I drink coffee with retainers?

Why can you only drink water with a retainer in?

Once your retainers are fitted, and you remember what your orthodontist told you, the reality of the situation begins to dawn on you. Is water my only option? Not only water, ‘Can I drink juice with retainers in?’, ‘Can I drink milk with retainers in?’ and ‘Can you drink tea with retainers?’ The simple truth is that water contains no sugar which can lead to tooth decay.  Water also contains no staining tannins that we find in the likes of coffee, tea and red wine. Water is the ‘cleanest’ drink available that can keep your retainers and teeth sparkling clean. However, water does tend to get a bit boring, especially if you are a fan of coffee, tea or red wine.

All is not lost my coffee drinking friends!  By following the guidance above, you should be able to enjoy your favourite beverage without ruining your teeth and retainers.  It just require a bit of extra effort.  Effort I’m sure you are willing to undertake in order to keep drinking your favourite hot drink.

drink water instead of coffee retainers

What if I wear retainers while drinking coffee?

If your choice is to continue drinking coffee, tea, red wine or any beverage other than water that has the potential to stain while wearing retainers, then you should also be electing to keeping a stringent cleaning regime.  If you don’t however and continue to wear retainers while drinking coffee, then It is worth bearing in mind that these drinks will end up staining your teeth.  

On the plus side though, there are a few habits that could be adopted to minimise the staining potential as they will only stain when they coming into contact with your teeth.

  • Drinking through a straw – By using a straw you are helping the liquid bypass your teeth. In the case of hot beverages, you could use a metal straw that you can take with you wherever you go. Yes it isn’t the perfect solution, but if you are craving that coffee it is a viable solution. You may even want to add a little more milk to your coffee, or opt for a latte to reduce the ‘darkness’ of the coffee. You also have the option to drink iced coffee or iced tea using a conventional straw.

  • Have water on standby – When you order yourself a coffee, go ahead and order a glass of water at the same time. When you have thoroughly enjoyed your coffee, give your mouth a good rinse with water to wash away the remnants of the beverage. This does mean that the afterglow of the coffee is lost, but so too is the likelihood of staining.
drink coffee with retainers
  • Drink coffee with less tannins – The strong tannins in coffee, as well as tea, wine etc, are the reason behind the staining effect on teeth and retainers. The only way to reduce tannins in coffee but still end up with the taste coffee drinkers crave, is to try using kopi lowak coffee.  These may not be for everyone but will certainly help in the reduction of coffee stains should you wish to continue getting that coffee taste without having to brush your teeth immediately after.  The reason is that there are little to no tannins left in kopi lowak to stain your teeth.

  • Brushing your teeth – Carry a toothbrush with you. Most of us probably drink coffee at work and through the day on a daily basis. It would not hurt to take a few minutes to brush your teeth after every coffee, or few if you drink them in quick succession.  It won’t take long for this to become a habit if done regularly for a few weeks.

  • Use mouthwash – Mouthwash can help to clean your teeth if you aren’t able to brush your teeth for whatever reason.  

How to clean retainers

Following your cleaning ritual of washing your mouth out with water and brushing your teeth after each coffee (and of course giving your teeth a brush twice a day) you can also clean your retainers.

Dr Douglas Elliott from Elliott Orthodontics has suggested the following method to clean your retainers, if stained: 

How to remove coffee stains from retainers


1.  Fill a bowl with a solution of 50% warm water and 50% hydrogen peroxide.

2.  Add 2 Tbsp of baking soda.

3.  Soak – Depending on the severity of the staining, cleaning may take a few minutes, or you may need to soak them over night to achieve a good clean.

4.  Use a toothbrush to brighten them up.

cleaning retainers coffee stains

Even if your retainers aren’t stained, I would recommend doing this periodically to keep them not only clean but sanitized too.

Cleaning permanent (also known as fixed or bonded) retainers

Permanent retainers are not the easiest to clean.  The angles at which you have to attack them to dislodge food and generally give them a good clean can be very difficult. Thankfully, it has become so much easier with a water flosser. 

What is a water flosser I hear you say?  A water flosser works by aiming a stream of pressured water which you aim at and around the retainers and between teeth.  This pressured water quickly clears all unwanted food debris away, making it a valuable addition to your teeth cleaning ritual … and of course it means you have one more tool in your arsenal to help your enjoy your favourite coffee.

Drinking coffee with braces

In summary

So know you know that all is not lost and that you can drink coffee with retainers.  You just need to be prepared to keep on top of your cleaning regime and ensure you carry it out regularly throughout the day.  Remember that this also applies if you have several cups of coffee and/or other tannin containing drinks such as tea or wine.