How to Care for Clear Aligners

Choosing to go on an orthodontic journey can be a life-changing step for many and, fortunately, your orthodontic journey doesn’t have to involve metal brackets or wires. Thanks to its clear adjustment trays, Invisalign is a removable adjustment option that can quickly correct crooked teeth and unsightly gaps. However, proper care of those trays is important, and failing to clean them well may leave you with more problems down the road.

Patients looking for the best dentist in San Jose can count on Santa Teresa Dental Center to provide them with the best care and most up-to-date information about their treatment. Our offices serve a number of local communities, including Avenida Espana, Martinvale Vineyard, Robertsville, Rancho Santa Teresa, and South San Jose. Call our offices for more information about keeping your Invisalign trays in great condition.

The Invisalign Plan

To understand why Invisalign trays need proper cleaning, it’s important to know how the treatment works. Patients with misaligned teeth looking for a more beautiful smile have to decide between braces and Invisalign trays. As most people know, braces are attached to teeth using special glue and must be worn at all times, no matter how uncomfortable.

As an alternative, Invisalign’s clear adjustment trays are removable. To be effective, they should remain seated in your mouth for 20 to 22 hours per day. However, patients can (and in some cases are encouraged to) remove them for comfort when eating, brushing, or even playing sports. Additional advantages include:

  • Clear trays are much less visible
  • Shorter treatment plan than traditional braces
  • Cost is comparable to braces
  • Easier to brush teeth/better oral hygiene
  • Less time at the Orthodontist

Invisalign is a great option for teens and adults because they understand how important it is to follow the treatment and care requirements closely. Younger children may find it difficult to keep track of the clear plastic trays, so braces may be a better option in those cases. After all, improper care can lead to a host of issues that can easily be avoided.

How Alignment Trays Work

Using Invisalign is easy, and should fit well into your normal daily routine. Once fit properly into the mouth, they can stay in all day. They are constructed using digital data about your mouth, designed to slowly shift teeth into the proper places over time. Each tray is slightly different, and you will feel a firm pressure as they correct your dentition.

After a few days you may find that the pressure against the trays has lessened, and the Invisalign adjusters may even feel loose. This means the treatment plan is working, but don’t think you can wear them less or switch to a different set too early. Your gums and teeth need time to adjust to their new positions. Treatment plans usually follow a six-week schedule, meaning you’ll have fewer office visits, too.

While the trays do take some getting used to, after a while you may forget they are even in your mouth. Their BPA-free plastic construction is a lot more comfortable than having teeth covered with metal brackets and wires. Your dentist will lay out your treatment plan with you, and even discuss the best way to care for clear aligners so they last long and stay looking great.

Why Proper Care is Important

No one wants to put gross, smelly plastic in their mouth, that much is certain. If patients don’t take proper care of their Invisalign adjustment trays, that’s exactly what they’ll get. Many people underestimate how important it is to clean the trays well. Here are just some of the issues that poorly cleaned adjustment trays can cause:

  • Bad Smell: You can brush your teeth and tongue over and over, but if the Invisalign trays aren’t cleaned properly, they are going to start to smell. Food particles may get trapped on the tray itself, making a horrible stench that you and everyone else will want to get away from.
  • Bacteria: A growing smell is also a sign of bacteria growth. The same decay-causing germs that hide between your teeth can also stick to the trays. Not only can this make you ill, but it might also lead to longer-lasting problems.
  • Stained Plastic: One of the benefits of Invisalign, its invisibility, deteriorates if the trays aren’t cleaned. Bacteria and food stink and they can also tint your trays to make teeth look dirtier than ever. Some gentle scrubbing with a non-abrasive toothpaste is a small tradeoff for braces no one can see.
  • Tooth Decay: Imagine brushing and flossing your beautiful teeth, and then sliding grimy, bacteria-filled trays right back on. Dirty aligners will press all of that cavity-causing gunk directly onto your teeth and will sit there all day. Patients who don’t take good care of their trays may find themselves irreparably damaging the very thing they’re trying to improve!

Caring for your Invisalign trays is important because not doing so might negate the entire treatment. If you feel that it’s too inconvenient to properly clean your adjusters, remember that it’s only for a short time. The treatment takes less time than braces, so it will be over before you know it!

Invisalign Care Dos and Don’ts

Daily cleanings seem like they could get in the way of life, especially in the mornings when you want to get on with your day, or at night when your bed looks just too comfortable. Fortunately, care for clear aligners is not difficult at all. Some simple steps to take and things to avoid include:

  • DO clean your trays with a soft toothbrush and water. If harsher products are used, you risk damaging or scratching the trays, making them appear foggy.
  • DON’T use mouthwash to clean the trays or rinse after eating. Some of the ingredients react poorly with clear adjusters and may damage the plastic.
  • DO a proper cleaning of both your teeth and your trays in the morning. After waking up, it’s important to clean off all of the gunk and bacteria that has formed while you were sleeping. Brushing and flossing your teeth and inserting spotless aligners will keep tooth decay at bay.
  • DON’T eat or drink with Invisalign trays in your mouth (except water). Not only is it probable that food and sugars will get caught in the trays, but they aren’t designed to handle the pressures of chewing and are likely to break.
  • DO rinse your aligners at least once a day. Denture cleaning tabs are an excellent option for this task. Once the cleaner has finished fizzing, you can gently scrub the plastic with a soft toothbrush (preferably not the one you used on your teeth) and then pop them back in.
  • DON’T leave the trays sitting out in the open. Many people remove their adjusters at mealtimes and simply place them on a napkin on the table. This is especially risky since it is possible they will get thrown away. Keep a container with you that can be slipped in your pocket or purse so you’re guaranteed to have them ready when you’re done eating.
  • DO rinse your liners every time they are removed. Get in the habit of heading to the restroom for a quick cleaning before you sit down to eat. This will go a long way to prevent stains from forming and keep plaque deposits from building up.
  • DON’T use traditional abrasive toothpaste. Your dentist might suggest you don’t use toothpaste at all, but some patients want that extra bit of insurance their trays are clean. Use a brand that isn’t very abrasive and you should avoid scratching your aligners.

It isn’t very complicated to care for clear aligners. Patients need only to keep them clean and make sure they know where the aligners are when not in use. A clinician may even have other suggestions to help you get the most out of your trays, too.

Proper Planning

The last thing that Invisalign patients will want to keep in mind is their treatment plan. Because you may receive a series of trays to switch out every few weeks, it’s important to have them on hand if you’re planning a business trip or family vacation. Keeping old trays in too long will do nothing to further your treatment, and may even set it back significantly.

It is always a good idea to have a small cleaning kit on hand. This might include a small, soft toothbrush, denture cleaning packs, a dry cloth, and a place to store the alignment trays. Having a toothbrush and toothpaste of your own is also a great idea so you can brush thoroughly after eating, allowing you to place your trays in a fresh, clean mouth!

When you decide to straighten your teeth with Invisalign adjustment trays, you’re taking the first big step towards a stunning smile. We at the Santa Teresa Dental Center want you to truly enjoy life with beautiful teeth and an abundance of confidence. For a consultation with our expert clinicians, call us right away. We look forward to helping you find a treatment plan that’s right for you!

Contact Santa Teresa Dental Center

    New Patient?

    Office Hours

    8:00am - 5:00pm
    9:00am - 6:00pm
    8:00am - 5:00pm
    8:00am - 5:00pm
    By Appointment
    8:30 - 2:30
    Open every other Saturday