One of Invisalign’s biggest advantage is having the ability to take the aligners out to eat and drink - but that doesn't mean they don't get dirty. Keeping your aligners clean is a vital part of your treatment, and it's the only way to keep them invisible, odorless, and free from germs. Without conscientious care and cleaning, you aligners can discolor, smell, and build up deposits of plaque and bacteria that can erode away the enamel of your teeth.
Thankfully, caring for them is easy. Just follow these simple Do's and Don'ts when wearing Invisalign®.
* Rinse new aligners before inserting them for the first time, and leave aligners in for 12 hours before removing them to cat or brush. (Pro Tip: Insert your new aligner in the evening before bed so that you sleep through the initial discomfort and get those solid 12 hours).
* Wear aligners for a minimum of 22 hours a day. Anything less, and there's a high chance that the aligners will not move your teeth predictably.
* Chewie Exercise: to make sure your teeth are tracking properly, chewie exercises should be done at least once a day. Simply place the plastic Chewie on the back-most molar on the right side and bite down and hold for 5 seconds. Walk the Chewie to the next tooth over, and bite down and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat until you've reached the back-most molar on the left.
* Rinse Every Time: Any time you take your aligners out of your mouth, rinse them thoroughly under running water. This will rinse away bacteria, saliva, and food particles.
* Soak Regularly: Invisalign offers specialized cleaning crystals to soak your aligners in to keep them clean and fresh. Pro Tip: If you run out of these crystals, Retainer Brite® cleaning tablets are readily found online or in drugstores.
* Clean Your Teeth: Proper care isn't just about clean aligners - your teeth need to stay clean, too! Be sure to brush and floss your teeth regularly to prevent the build-up of plaque and bacteria under the aligners.
* Use Clear, Anti-Bacterial Soft Soap: This is a great way to keep your aligners free of bacteria and plaque.
* Brush Carefully: Ideally, you want to brush aligners every time you take them out or put them back in - but be careful, as overzealous brushing can leave visible marks and scratches. Please be sure to use a Soft toothbrush.
*Keep backup aligners: Keep the previous aligners just in case you lose your current ones.
* Eat or Drink anything that has sugar or acidity with your aligners in Foods and colored drinks can stain your aligners and leave an unpleasant smell, so stick with cool, non-carbonated water while you're wearing them. (Carbonated water is acidic too!). In addition, prolonged contact of sugar and acid will cause scarring of the enamel and even cavities.
*Drink any hot beverages -- this will warp your aligners.
* Leave aligners in your car, especially in the hot sun. Aligners WILL warp.
*Use Scented or Colored Soap: Using anything but clear soap with aligners can cause them to stain.
*Soak aligners in mouthrinse -- this can discolor them.
Traveling with Invisalign
While the removability of Invisalign makes them hugely convenient, it can also cause problems - particularly when traveling. It's all too easy to misplace them, break them, or even leave them in another country when traveling. If you'll be traveling with Invisalign, it’s generally best to pause treatment and wear the same aligners at nighttime only to hold your teeth where they are, so that you can resume treatment when you're back home. However, if you will be traveling for weeks or months, here are some helpful tips for continuing treatment and taking care of your aligners on the go.
-Keep a supply: In general, you should carry at least three pairs of aligners with you when you travel: your current set, your previous set, and your next set. If you'll be out of town for more than a few weeks, we recommend taking more.
-Extra Case: It's easy to lose a case, so we always recommend bringing a backup Justin case. -Rinse when necessary: While it’s best to brush them every time you take them out or put them back in, at a restaurant in another country, this may not be practical. At a minimum, you can rinse out your mouth and aligners before putting them back in, then brush once you're back in your room.
Some Common Questions
1. What do I do if I lose an aligner?
If you accidentally throw away your aligners, it’s ok! These things happen. Simply skip ahead to the next aligner. For example, if you lose Tray 14, skip to Tray 15. Tray 15 will fit tightly, but it should fit if you have been wearing aligner 14 for the prescribed 22 hours a day. However, if you lose multiple trays, please give our office a call right away.
2. I'm noticing a lisp when I talk, is this normal?
This is normal -- Not to worry! The tongue is just adjusting to the thin layer of plastic on the roof of your mouth, and this lisp will eventually go away. Pro Tip: to get rid of this lisp ASAP, read a book or magazine out loud with the aligners in.
3. What do I do if an attachment comes off my teeth?
Invisalign attachments are chemically bonded to the teeth and so are quite durable. However, if an attachment or two happens to fall off, please make a note of which one(s) is missing and let us know at your next regularly scheduled appointment.
4. What do I do if there is a sore spot on my gums where the aligner is constantly rubbing?
If the attachments or aligners are rubbing on a certain spot creating a sore spot, simply take a nail file and gently file down the plastic that is causing the irritation. Please let us know about this at your next regularly scheduled appointment.
5. Can I get my wisdom teeth extracted during Invisalign treatment?
Absolutely! Since the aligners only cover the teeth and not the gums, you should be able to wear the aligners although your gums and jaw may be sore. If you're unable to wear aligners during the recovery period for whatever reason, simply wear the same aligner that you were wearing right before oral surgery at night-time (~10-12 hrs/night) to act as a retainer during recovery. Resume full-time wear as soon as you are able to and proceed to the next set of aligners and wear for 1 week each.
6. What is a Refinement and why am | wearing my aligners at night- time only during treatment?
Refinements -- where we perform a new scan of your mouth or take new impressions so that a new set of trays can be made for you -- is a normal part of Invisalign treatment. Even though you wear your aligners as instructed, sometimes we'll find that a tooth is not tracking properly. We like to correct these issues as soon as possible. So, just like in the beginning, it'll take 4-6 weeks for the new aligners to be manufactured and shipped to us. During this “Invisalign Vacation”, you will be wearing the very last set of trays at night-time only as a retainer. Just so you know, this will not affect your treatment length as this “Invisalign vacation” was already incorporated in -- we got you covered! Please note, if a refinement must be done earlier than planned due to non-compliance/loss of multiple sets of aligners, order for you so that we do not lose progress while the new set of aligners are being manufactured.
7. What if Invisalign is not working for me and I want to switch to braces?
If Invisalign is not working for you, we'd be more than happy to help you switch to braces -- after all, we want you to be happy and successful during treatment! Please be advised, there is a fee to switch from Invisalign to braces, and your treatment time may increase.