7 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Disposing of Clear Aligners

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 Clear aligners

Over the past few years, clear aligners have revolutionized orthodontic treatment and have made it much easier. Clear aligners work as a discreet and convenient alternative to traditional braces. Moreover, these transparent trays have gained popularity among people of all ages seeking a straighter smile without the hassle of metal wires and brackets. However, with the rise in their usage, it's essential to address a very necessary aspect often overlooked – their disposal. This guide will help you discover seven common mistakes to avoid when disposing of clear aligners.

Why Proper Disposal of Clear Aligners is Required

Each set of clear aligners is typically worn for 10 days before being replaced with a new one. However, proper disposal of using clear aligners is highly required for environmental and hygiene reasons. Clear aligners are in constant contact with the mouth, which harbors various bacteria. Improper disposal can lead to the spread of harmful bacteria and potential infections. Plus, used aligners may have sharp edges or become brittle over time, posing a risk of injury as they are transparent and unnoticeable.

Avoid These Mistakes When Disposing Clear Aligners

We have listed seven common mistakes that individuals often overlook when disposing of clear aligners to help you create a positive environmental impact.

1. Throwing in Regular Trash

The first common blunder that individuals make is tossing clear aligners into regular household trash without proper containment. This not only exposes them to potential contamination but also risks injury to sanitation workers handling the waste. Additionally, clear aligners may end up in landfills, where they contribute to plastic pollution and take centuries to decompose. To avoid this, wrap used aligners in paper or place them in a sealed container before disposing of them in regular recycling bins.

2. Leaving Aligners Exposed

Leaving clear aligners exposed to air and sunlight can cause them to degrade over time, compromising their structural effectiveness. When not in use, store aligners in a designated retainer case or a dry container to protect them from environmental factors. This ensures that they remain in optimal condition until it's time to replace them with a new set.

3. Flushing Down the Toilet

One of the gravest mistakes individuals make is flushing their used clear aligners down the toilet. While it might seem like a convenient way to dispose of them, it poses significant environmental hazards. Clear aligners are made of non-biodegradable plastic, which can clog sewage systems and harm aquatic life. Instead of flushing them away, opt for responsible disposal methods that minimize ecological impact.

4. Neglecting Hygiene Protocols

Maintaining proper hygiene is necessary even when disposing of clear aligners. Failing to clean them adequately before disposal can lead to bacterial growth and foul odors, posing health risks to both individuals and waste handlers. Rinse used aligners thoroughly with water and mild soap, ensuring all traces of saliva and debris are removed before discarding them.

5. Sharing Aligners with Others

While it may seem economical to share clear aligners with friends or family members, doing so is highly unhygienic and potentially harmful. Each individual's aligners are custom-made to fit their teeth and address specific orthodontic issues. Sharing aligners not only risks spreading bacteria and infections but also undermines the effectiveness of treatment. Always use aligners prescribed specifically for you and avoid sharing them with others.

6. Disregarding Recycling Options

Many individuals overlook the recycling options available for clear aligners, assuming they belong in the regular trash. However, several orthodontic practices and recycling programs offer environmentally friendly disposal solutions for used aligners. Research local recycling facilities or inquire with your orthodontist about recycling programs.

7. Failing to Dispose of Retainers Properly

After completing orthodontic treatment with clear aligners, individuals often transition to wearing retainers to maintain their newly aligned smile. Failing to dispose of old retainers properly can lead to clutter and confusion, as well as potential hygiene issues. Consult with your orthodontist on the best way to dispose of old retainers, whether through recycling programs or other environmentally friendly methods.


Proper disposal of clear aligners is essential for maintaining oral hygiene, preserving the environment, and ensuring the effectiveness of orthodontic treatment. By avoiding common mistakes that we have outlined above, individuals can contribute to a cleaner environment and safeguard their oral health. Remember to explore recycling options and consult with orthodontic professionals for guidance on responsible disposal practices. With careful efforts, embrace the benefits of clear aligner treatment while minimizing its environmental footprints.


1. How should I dispose of my clear aligners responsibly?

To dispose of your clear aligners, rinse them thoroughly, then place them in a plastic bag. Seal the bag tightly before throwing it in the trash to prevent environmental contamination.

2. Can I recycle my clear aligners?

No, most clear aligners are not recyclable due to their composition. It's best to follow your orthodontist's guidelines for proper disposal to minimize environmental impact.

3. Are there any alternative methods for disposing of clear aligners?

Some aligner brands offer recycling programs. Check with your provider to see if they offer such a program. Alternatively, you can consult local recycling centers for specialized disposal options.