Orthodontic treatment involves a little housekeeping. Whether you have braces or Invisalign, you’ll need to devote a few extra steps to your daily dental hygiene routine, but it won’t take long and the benefits are worth the effort.
The Importance of Clean Invisalign Aligners
There are consequences for not cleaning your Invisalign, including:
Food particles can transfer from unbrushed teeth onto the Invisalign. Many foods contribute to the Invisalign becoming stained or dull. Once this occurs, it’s more noticeable that you’re wearing aligners.
Our mouths are full of bacteria that can build up on Invisalign trays. Daily cleaning of the trays is the other way of removing the bacteria.
Cleaning Aligners in 4 Steps
For the best results, your clear aligners should only be out of your mouth while you're eating or drinking or while they’re being cleaned. The best time to clean your aligners is while you're eating a main meal, so that you can use this time to soak.
Step 1 - Soaking
Take your aligner out and grab a glass or plastic cup for soaking.
Step 2 - The Toothbrush Method
Take a new, small soft bristled brush, such as a baby’s toothbrush, that you will use exclusively to brush your aligners. Pump a small amount of clear hand soap on the brush and gently brush in all the nooks and crannies.
Make sure you brush all surfaces of the aligners - you can’t see bacteria but it’s there. It’s important to use clear soap as coloured soap can permanently stain your aligners. Don’t use toothpaste on the brush as it’s too abrasive and can cause scratches which can make the aligners opaque.
There are several ingredients you can use for soaking your aligners, including:
Step 3 - Rinse
Use cold or lukewarm water to rinse your aligners and remove any residue soap or cleaning solutions.
Step 4 - Ready to Fit
Don’t delay putting your aligners back in your mouth. You should aim to wear them for 22 hours a day, so don’t leave the trays to soak for too long.
Other Tips for Caring for Your Aligners
Don’t Eat or Drink with Your Aligners in
It may be tempting to not worry about taking your aligners out when you want something to eat or drink, but you’re risking damaging them. Aligners are very thin and eating with them can easily cause a break. Drinking anything other than water can cause staining or melting (if it’s a hot drink).
Rinse After Eating
When taking your aligners out to eat a snack or lunch, rinse them before putting them back in place. A quick rinse removes the dry saliva and some bacteria that may be on the trays. If possible, brush your teeth before putting your Invisalign back in to remove any food particles from between your teeth. Food can become stuck in the aligners, creating more bacteria and potentially staining the trays. If it’s not possible to brush your teeth, give your mouth a good rinse with water.
Clean the Case
If your aligners aren’t in your mouth or in a cleaning solution, they should be in their protective case. Putting aligners in a paper napkin or tissue isn’t a good idea because they can be easily thrown out by mistake. With your aligners going in and out of your case regularly, the case can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Wash your case with warm, soapy water at least every few days to keep it clean and healthy.
Heat is the Number One Enemy of Aligners
Many Invisalign patients may have heard that heat can work well when it comes to cleaning some surfaces… but Invisalign isn’t one of them. Any type of heat - the microwave, hot water, a steamer - can cause Invisalign to change shape so they no longer fit correctly or melt. Only use cold or lukewarm water to clean your aligners.
If you have any questions about the ongoing upkeep of your aligners during treatment, please give us a call or contact us online.