Life with Invisalign: What you need to know about caring for your aligners

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Invisalign and oral hygiene

It’s not just liquids that can get caught between your aligners and your teeth. If you eat or drink something and don’t brush your teeth or at least rinse your mouth out before putting your aligners back in, food debris, sugars or starches can also do the same thing. The bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar and starches from food and release acids that eat away at your tooth enamel, which can lead to tooth decay. Usually, our saliva helps wash away some of the bacteria, food and plaque and also aids in the remineralization process. However, your saliva does not flow as freely under the aligners so it doesn’t have a chance to wash things away or remineralize the teeth. Instead, the teeth are exposed to whatever is trapped under your aligners for longer than they normally would be.

This is why oral hygiene is important when you have Invisalign. You’ll be able to brush the same way you always have because there are no brackets and wires in the way. However, you’ll want to brush more frequently. Brush your teeth in the morning, after eating or drinking, and before bed using a fluoride toothpaste. Bringing a travel toothbrush and toothpaste when you’re on the go is great way to make sure it’s always on hand. If you forget it, rinse your mouth out really well and then brush as soon as you get home. As for flossing, be sure to floss once daily. If you want a little extra smile protection, use a fluoride mouthwash before going to bed as well.

How to clean Invisalign

Now that you know how often to brush and floss, what about how to clean Invisalign trays? You’ve probably heard of the different Invisalign cleaning products like the Invisalign cleaning crystals. You put your aligners in a container with warm water, add the Invisalign cleaning crystals, shake the container and then let the aligners soak for about 15 minutes. It really does get rid of plaque and any bad smells. However, any of the cleaning systems are better suited to occasionally deep cleaning Invisalign retainers since you’re using them for a longer period of time. You only wear your aligners for a week or so before switching to the next set. You probably don’t actually need to deep clean them. By the time they have a chance to get a little gross, it’s time to move on to a fresh tray anyway. I’ve found when it comes to how to clean Invisalign, the best (and most affordable) thing to do is to just brush your aligners gently with a toothbrush and rinse them with lukewarm water. Skip the abrasive toothpaste, which can scratch the aligners, and the hot water, which can damage them. Brushing and rinsing usually does the job of keeping your aligners clear, and odor- and plaque-free. Clean them every time you brush your teeth and rinse them before putting them back in your mouth after eating or drinking.

To be continued in the next issue

 

Dr Vishal Sharma
BSc, DDS, Cert. Ortho.
FRCD(C), FCDS(BC)