You’re home with your new Invisalign aligners, ready to start on the path to straight teeth and a bright new smile. But you may find yourself with a few questions as you wear and use your aligners — questions that you didn’t know to ask your dentist or orthodontist. How can you best care for your Invisalign aligners on a daily basis?
1. Don’t eat anything with your aligners in.
When you first switch to a new aligner, it may feel a little tight, and you’ll probably remember to remove it before eating. But as you adjust to the feeling of an aligner, there may be times when you forget. What should you do if you start to eat and forget about your aligner?
In most cases, you won’t harm the aligner by eating or drinking with it in. Simply remove it as soon as possible and clean it gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush, just like you do when you are ready to insert it after it has been out.
2. Know what to soak your aligners in.
Cleaning your aligners with the Invisalign cleaning system or with a clean, soft toothbrush should be sufficient in almost all cases for cleaning. Sometimes, however, you might notice a build-up of plaque-type gunk in your aligner or you may notice a stain.
There are a couple of things you can do to clean your aligners in these cases:
- Make a soak from a bit of diluted white vinegar. Vinegar is mildly acidic; it can gently remove stains without damaging the aligner. While this should be fine to do very occasionally, try not to use it regularly.
- Soak in half water and half 3 percent hydrogen peroxide. Don’t do this for more than 5 to 7 minutes, then brush. This can get rid of that gunk and other bacteria you can’t see.
You don’t need to sterilize with boiling water; in fact, this will damage your aligners. Likewise, don’t use harsh denture cleaners, alcohol-based cleaners or bleach on your aligners.
3. Know what to do if you start to notice bad breath.
Even if your Invisalign aligners are perfectly cared for, they can trap bacteria against your teeth. If you tend to have a dry mouth, this can lead to stale breath, much like you have when you wake up in the morning.
To combat this, make sure:
- You clean your aligners carefully just before you put them in. Some people use toothpaste and some use a gentle dishwashing soap — if you don’t get good results with one, try the other.
- You’ve brushed and flossed thoroughly before inserting the aligners. This removes most of the odor-causing bacteria in your mouth and it will take awhile for more to populate in your mouth.
- Drink plenty of water to prevent a dry mouth and to wash away bacteria. Most practitioners don’t require you to remove your aligners when you drink plain water.
4. Have a plan if you can’t brush.
While you should always brush after eating and before reinserting your aligner, there are some situations where you just can’t work in a full oral cleaning. If you’re really stuck, rinse as completely as you can with water, then chew a sugar-free gum — preferably one that contains xylitol — for 10 to 15 minutes.
Have more questions about how to care for your Invisalign aligners? Dr. McNeely won’t mind a quick call if you need help before your next appointment.