Although invisible aligners are one of the most convenient ways of straightening teeth, they do require a bit of maintenance. Your orthodontist may ask you to follow specific instructions for maintaining your aligners at home. Here are six helpful tips for keeping your aligners clean and safe.
Maintain oral hygiene.
“You can prevent bad breath with aligners by being meticulous about oral hygiene for the duration of treatment,” Vick Gupta, DDS, an orthodontist at Gupta Orthodontics in Dallas, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
“Patients are advised to brush and floss after each meal before putting their aligners back on. This helps prevent bacteria from developing on the surfaces of the teeth and aligners. If not done properly, the close contact of the aligners and the teeth become a breeding ground for bad bacteria,” Gupta says.
Clean with a soft brush and cleanser.
You can also use a toothbrush on your aligners. “When you wake up, gently brush your clear aligners with a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle cleanser. Rinse well before placing the aligners back into your mouth,” Christopher Young, DDS, a dentist at Young Family Dental, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
“Softly brush and rinse your retainers again before bedtime to remove any food particles or dental plaque that could have accumulated throughout the day,” Young says.
Rinse with water.
You can also take special steps while removing your aligners to eat.
“Each time you take your aligners out, rinse them thoroughly before placing them back in your mouth,” Young says. Proper rinsing ensures the removal of any debris or bacteria that may have been left behind from your previous meal.
Also, “do not wear your clear [aligners] while you are eating or drinking anything but water,” Young adds.
Avoid flavored drinks.
While wearing aligners, it is imperative to avoid beverages like soft drinks, sports drinks, juice, tea, coffee, and flavored waters, states the American Association of Orthodontists. When you consume these drinks, the liquid seeps inside aligners and stays in contact with teeth for a long time. The sugar or acid present in the drinks may lead to cavities and the discoloration of your teeth or aligners.
“Another recommendation is to brush your teeth, or if you don’t have time for that, swish with a non-alcoholic mouth rinse prior to putting the clear aligners back in your mouth,” Joshua Perlman, DMD, cosmetic dentist, and owner of NYC Smile Spa in New York, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
“If left uncleared, the food from the previous meal will be left impacted in your teeth and eventually as part of the aligner,” Perlman adds.
Store aligners properly.
Since aligners are removable, they may get lost or misplaced easily. Therefore, “once clean, store your clear aligners in their designated case to keep them clean and safe from damage,” Young says.
Also, avoid placing them in your pocket, purse, or napkins and keep them away from pets.
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