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Life With Invisalign: What You Need to Know About Caring for Your Aligners

By December 20, 2019October 27th, 2023Blog, Orthodontics
aura clear aligners

As the premier Invisalign provider in the Fraser Valley, we have perfected thousands of smiles with the system of clear aligners. While the fact that the treatment is virtually invisible is, of course, a huge perk, another important benefit our Surrey, Abbotsford and Langley Invisalign patients love is the convenience. The aligners are removable and there are no brackets and wires getting in the way. However, as stress-free and low maintenance as Invisalign is, there are still steps you’ll want to take to keep your smile healthy and your aligners clean. Read on for our Invisalign care tips that will help you make the most out of your treatment. 

How Does Invisalign Work?

First, let’s have a quick refresher on the basics of Invisalign. Invisalign involves a series of clear, BPA-free plastic, removable aligners. Before you kick off treatment, an Aura Orthodontics team member takes a digital scan of your teeth and gums with our iTero® scanner. A computerized, 3D model of your mouth is created based on the scans. Dr. Vishal Sharma, Dr. Everett Lin or Dr. Julia Koo plans out your treatment directly on the model, moving each individual tooth into place. Invisalign prints out your aligners based on their specifications. Each set of clear aligners is programmed to achieve certain movements and as you make your way through the trays, your new smile gradually takes shape. When treatment is complete, you’ll wear a retainer to ensure your teeth stay in their new positions.

Wearing Invisalign

While it can vary depending on your treatment plan, most patients change to a new set of aligners every week. For the best results, we recommend wearing Invisalign aligners for about 20 to 22 hours per day. You will only take your aligners out to brush and floss your teeth and for meals and snacks. You might find you snack less or have to be efficient with certain meals in an effort to wear your aligners for the full amount of time. This is not to say you can’t enjoy leisurely dinners out with friends anymore. A good Invisalign tip is to adjust your day accordingly. If you know you are dining out at night, for example, eat something quick and easy for breakfast and lunch so you can maximize your time. Learn more about the pros and cons of Invisalign.

Eating and Drinking With Invisalign

There are no food restrictions with Invisalign since you will take the aligners out to eat. However, when you first begin treatment and when you put in a new set of aligners, your teeth can be a little bit sensitive. So, similar to what we tell our braces patients, if your teeth are sore, stick with softer foods and cold drinks, including smoothies, soup, mashed potatoes, pasta, yogurt, oatmeal, soft cheeses and things along those lines. The discomfort usually goes away in a day or so and some patients find that it’s not even bad enough to warrant changing their diet. If you do, just consider it an excellent opportunity to splurge on a milkshake.

As for drinking with Invisalign, you will need to take your aligners out before drinking anything aside from plain water. Hot beverages, such as coffee, can warp your aligners, which will affect the fit and, ultimately, can impact your results. Additionally, because the aligners fit snug against your teeth, beverages can get trapped between your aligners and your teeth. If they are sugary or dark in color (think coffee, tea or wine), this can increase your odds of tooth decay or staining.

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 a 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.

We’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.

Storing Invisalign

Your Invisalign case is your most important Invisalign accessory (aside from the aligners themselves, of course). Whenever you’re not wearing Invisalign aligners, store them in their case. Since they’re clear and lightweight, they are very easy to lose. Never put them in a napkin or a tissue while you’re eating. This is one of the most common ways that Invisalign accidentally gets thrown in the trash. Another reason to use your Invisalign case is because pets love clear aligners. The last thing you want is for your dog to chew on your Invisalign. If you tend to lose things and you’re afraid you won’t be able to keep track of your Invisalign case, store it in a larger toiletry or cosmetic bag to make it even more visible. Another final note on storing Invisalign is during the summer months, avoid leaving your Invisalign aligners in a hot car because the heat can cause warping and impact the way the aligners fit.

What to do if You Lose an Invisalign Aligner

If you do misplace your aligners, it’s not the end of the world. However, you can’t just jump ahead to the next set. As we mentioned earlier, each set of Invisalign aligners is programmed to achieve certain specific tooth movements and each tray progresses you to the next stage. If you don’t wear one of the aligners, you’ll miss out on that part of your treatment plan and you may not get the results you want.

So, if you lose an aligner, call our office and let us know. It will depend on where you are in your wear cycle. If it’s hours before you were scheduled to change your aligners then you might be able to just move ahead. If it’s a day or two in to that set, you’ll probably have to have that tray of aligners remade for you. While you wait for us to get you your new clear aligners, we’ll likely ask you to wear your previous tray to prevent your teeth from moving too much in the meantime. Be sure to always save your last set just in case. The good news for Invisalign Teen patients is that a few free replacement aligners are included in the system.

By following these Invisalign care tips, you’ll be able to make the most of your treatment. Are you ready to get started on your new smile with Abbotsford, Surrey or Langley Invisalign treatment? Schedule a complimentary consultation at Aura Orthodontics today!