If you’ve made the choice to straighten your teeth with our Invisalign clear aligners, you’re on track to achieve a smile you’ll feel proud to show off! With Invisalign’s innovative system, you’re enjoying one of the simplest ways to improve your oral health and achieve a beautifully aligned smile at Mack Orthodontics. Patients love their comfort and flexibility, and the clear material means no one even needs to know you’re in orthodontic treatment! As a removable appliance, however, there are some guidelines you’ll need to follow to ensure your clear aligners stay clean, safe, and fully functional. Keep reading for our top tips on how to care for your clear aligners!
What exactly is a clear aligner system?
Invisalign clear aligners started gaining popularity on the orthodontics scene about twenty years ago, but we’ve been using similar trays as retainers for much longer. While they certainly look very different, clear aligners and braces work in essentially the same way—they just use different parts and techniques to do so.
Both treatments exert gentle pressure on your teeth that gradually moves them into the desired positions. But instead of brackets and wires, the Invisalign system moves misaligned teeth in stages with a series of aligners customized to each patient. These aligners are made of a special SmartTrack material that allows them to fit firmly but comfortably over your teeth.
When orthodontists first started using clear aligners, it was mainly to correct simple spacing issues or mild crowding. However, the technology and design have evolved over time, so the aligners we use at Mack Orthodontics can successfully treat many of the same orthodontic issues as braces. As simple as the Invisalign system is, there’s a certain amount of care that needs to be taken with your clear aligners to ensure they’re functioning as they should be.
Maintain basic hygiene when handling your clear aligners
Washing your hands is the first line of defense against germs and bacteria. To keep your aligners clean, we recommend washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before removing them. Pay particular attention to your fingernails and fingertips, since they’ll be coming into the closest contact with your mouth. Hand sanitizer can also be used if soap and water are unavailable, just be sure it’s at least 60% alcohol.
Once you remove your aligner, place it in a clean, sealed container or leave it to soak in an approved solution. This keeps your clear aligners safe from bacteria and also prevents them from being accidentally misplaced or thrown away!
Before putting the aligner back in your mouth, wash your hands again and rinse it off with water. If you’re able to, brushing and flossing before wearing your clear aligners will boost your oral health and keep your mouth fresh and clean!
Clean your clear aligners properly
You’ll be wearing your aligners for over 20 hours a day, so it’s important to keep them squeaky clean! We recommend brushing your clear aligners twice a day. You can usually do this at the same time you’re brushing and flossing your teeth, but how you clean your Invisalign aligners is just as important as how often you clean them.
For example, toothpaste is harsh on plastic and can damage the smooth surface of your aligners, leaving tiny scratches and grooves that can collect bacteria. These can also make the aligners uncomfortable to wear and may cause a cloudy appearance. You should avoid using toothpaste to clean your aligners, and instead use a very small amount of clear, unscented antibacterial soap or a 1:1 solution of white vinegar and lukewarm water. Brush the aligners gently, rinse them, and allow them to dry before putting them back into your mouth.
Invisalign clear aligners are designed to be removed any time you eat or drink anything other than water. Any time you remove your aligner, you should rinse it immediately. Our mouths are full of bacteria, and this can easily be transferred to aligners. Rinsing them as soon as you remove them will help prevent a dried-out film of bacteria from building up, keeping them clean and extending the lifespan of each aligner.
Be sure to only use lukewarm water for rinsing, as the material aligners are made of is subject to expansion and contraction when exposed to extreme temperatures. This means that hot water or very cold water can warp them, making them less effective.
We also recommend soaking your clear aligners at least once a week. This can be done with denture cleaning tablets or a special solution designed for use with clear aligners. If you use denture tablets, just be aware that you will not need to soak your aligners as long as the packet instructions say. You’ll get the most benefit by soaking them for about half an hour instead of overnight. Remember to use only lukewarm or room temperature water to avoid misshapen aligners.
Follow your doctor’s guidelines!
Unlike braces, which are fixed appliances that can only be adjusted or removed by a trained specialist, clear aligners rely on patient compliance to be effective. You’ll need to keep them in for 20-22 hours every day throughout the course of treatment. You’ll also be responsible for switching each aligner out for the next in the series every 1-2 weeks, according to your customized treatment plan. This allows them to keep up with the movements your teeth are making.
Find your best smile at Mack Orthodontics
Invisalign clear aligners continue to be our most popular alternative to traditional braces and can be an excellent option for anyone looking for a more flexible way to invisibly straighten their smile! We’re excited to offer Invisalign clear aligners to patients in our Burlington and Hillsborough offices.
If you have any questions about how to maintain a healthy smile and sparkling clean aligners during the treatment process, our team is here to help! Get in touch and we’ll be happy to discuss your concerns.
If you’re not a current patient but would like to learn more about how Invisalign clear aligners can help transform your smile, we’d love to hear from you too! Contact us today to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Kervin Mack and Dr. Christina Jackson.