Not so long ago, you didn’t have a lot of options if you wanted to improve your oral health or straighten your smile. Thankfully, however, orthodontic patients now have more treatments to choose from than ever! At Hall & Koppel Orthodontics, we offer patients traditional metal braces, clear braces, and Invisalign clear aligners. The Invisalign clear aligner system is our most popular alternative to braces, and patients love the freedom and flexibility they have with these aligners. That’s why we’ve compiled this guide of tips for caring for your Invisalign clear aligners!
If you’ve recently started your own orthodontic journey with Invisalign, there are some guidelines you’ll need to follow to ensure your clear aligners stay clean and in excellent condition. Because they’re removable appliances instead of fixed, it’s up to you to ensure they’re cared for and able to function as designed. To learn more about keeping your Invisalign aligners in good shape throughout the treatment process, keep reading below!
The basics of the Invisalign clear aligner system
The innovative Invisalign system began gaining popularity among orthodontists about twenty years ago, but we’ve been using similar trays as retainers for even longer. While they look very different, clear aligners and braces work in much the same way—both exert constant gentle pressure to the teeth, gradually moving them into the desired positions. However, instead of brackets and wires, the Invisalign system moves misaligned teeth in stages with a series of aligners that are clear, customized, and removable.
These aligners are made of a special thermoplastic material that fits firmly but comfortably over your own teeth. When orthodontists first began using them, it was mostly to correct simple spacing issues or mild crowding. Over time, the technology and designs have evolved, and today’s aligners are able to successfully treat many of the same orthodontic issues that braces do. As simple as Invisalign is, there’s a certain amount of care that needs to be taken with your clear aligners. This will help ensure they’re functioning as they should be.
Follow the guidelines for your clear aligners
Traditional braces are a fixed appliance that can only be removed by a trained specialist, but Invisalign aligners are removable and therefore rely on patient compliance. You’ll need to keep them in for 20-22 hours every day throughout the course of treatment for them to work properly. You’ll also be responsible for switching each aligner out for the next in the series every 1-2 weeks. This allows them to keep up with the movements your teeth are making. Failure to follow these guidelines can result in longer treatment times and may even affect your final results.
Rinse your clear aligners any time you take them out
Invisalign aligners are designed to be removed any time you eat or drink anything other than water. Any time you take an aligner out, it needs to be rinsed immediately. Our mouths are home to tons 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.
Careful rinsing of your aligners will keep them clean and help extend the lifespan of each aligner. Be sure to only use lukewarm water, though, as the material each aligner is made of is subject to expansion and contraction when exposed to extreme temperatures. Extreme temps, like hot water or very cold water, can warp them.
Maintain basic hygiene when handling your clear aligners
Washing your hands is the first line of defense against germs and bacteria. To keep things clean, we recommend washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before removing your aligner. Pay close 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 your aligner has been removed, 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 clean and fresh! 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 abrasive to plastic and can scratch the smooth surface of your aligners. This can leave tiny scratches and grooves that are susceptible to bacteria and may make the aligners uncomfortable to wear. For this reason, you should avoid using toothpaste to clean your aligners. Opt instead for a very small amount of clear, unscented antibacterial soap or a 1:1 solution of white vinegar and lukewarm water. Brush your Invisalign aligners gently, rinse them, and allow them to dry before putting them back into your mouth.
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.
Get a great smile with Invisalign & Hall & Koppel Orthodontics
We’re excited to offer the Invisalign clear aligner system to patients throughout our community! Invisalign clear aligners continue to be our most popular alternative to traditional braces throughout Hot Springs and with good reason! They can be an excellent option for patients looking to straighten their smile without brackets and wires.
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 any questions or 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! Contact us today to schedule your FREE consultation with our Hot Springs office.