Invisible aligners have been around for many years, but as the technology improves and people seek better ways to improve their dental health, they are growing in popularity. These aligners can be a comfortable way to straighten your teeth without the obvious appearance of braces.
Still, they require care, maintenance and cleaning, just like any medical device, and it's vital that you take care of them, not only so they'll continue to work properly, but also to stay healthy. Learn all about invisible aligners and an easy seven-step process to clean and maintain them so they function perfectly throughout the time you need them.
An Overview of Invisible Aligners
For centuries, the traditional way to fix a smile was with braces. These devices use brackets with wires threaded through to straighten teeth. The wires are tightened every so often to encourage the teeth to move, gradually adjusting your mouth to a straight smile. Invisible aligners use a similar principle but involve custom-made mouthpieces built around a mold of your teeth.
These mouthpieces are usually made from a type of clear acrylic and are a tight fit over your teeth. As you wear them, your teeth will adjust to the fit, and then you'll move to a new aligner, which again will feel tight. The process continues through several stages that can vary from patient to patient until your teeth are straight. The process can take anywhere from a few weeks to two years, depending on the amount of correction required.
For the most part, invisible aligners are not designed to be worn while eating, but they are easy to remove and re-insert so you can take them out to enjoy a meal.
Clear orthodontic aligners are not for everyone. They are usually recommended only for mild-to-moderate crowding or spacing between teeth. If you have a serious condition like a major underbite, overbite or crossbite, you may need more complicated treatments.
Seven Steps to Maintaining Aligners
Just like with any dental or medical device, you'll need to take the right steps to maintain and protect your aligners. This will both help keep them functioning as they should and keep them clean so they don't develop bacteria that could cause issues with your teeth, gums and even your overall health.
Fortunately, it's very easy to maintain invisible aligners. Just follow these basic steps:
- Always brush and floss before wearing.
- Always remove them before eating or drinking.
- Store them in a cool, dry place.
- Don't leave them out in the open.
- Don't use hot water to clean them.
- Do not use a toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Use an approved solution to clean them.
1. Brush and Floss Before Wearing
Keeping your teeth clean is even more vital than normal when wearing aligners. Make sure you brush and floss your teeth for at least two minutes. Floss well to make sure there's no plaque or food particle buildup between your teeth. This is normal dental hygiene, but it's important that there's nothing between your teeth to interfere with the work of the aligners, so it takes on an extra level of importance here.
2. Always Remove Aligners Before Eating or Drinking
Your aligners are made from a type of dental acrylic, and they are not designed to be worn while you eat or drink! They're easy to pop in and out, so just make sure that when you go out to eat or you sit down at a meal with your beloved, you pop out your aligners. If you can, always rinse them well with cool water when you take them out, and remember that you need to brush and floss before putting them back in!
While we're on the subject, especially avoid bringing your aligners in contact with dark liquids like coffee, soda, liquor and the like. These can stain them and make them, well, less than invisible.
3. Store Aligners in a Cool, Dry Place
Your aligners should have come with a carrying case. When you're not using them, place them in the case and store them somewhere cool and dry. This will prevent the growth of bacteria that can thrive in warmth and moisture.
4. Never Leave Them Out in the Open
Don't ever leave your invisible dental aligners out in the open. When you lay them on a table or countertop outside their case, you may be exposing them to bacteria and pathogens that could cause tooth decay, gum disease or even make you sick. You might also forget where you put them and lose them.
5. Don't Use Hot Water to Clean Them
Keeping your aligners clean is important, but it's just as important to avoid mistakes while cleaning them. The first and most common mistake people make is using hot water to clean aligners. Hot water can actually damage the aligners, causing them to lose their shape. This means they can't do their job right in your mouth and you may need to replace them, which can be costly.
6. Don't Use Toothpaste
Don't use abrasives like toothpaste when you clean your dental aligners. Abrasives can scratch and damage the surface of the aligners. This can both make them harder to clean in the future, which will make them less invisible in your mouth, and create crevices and scratches in which bacteria can grow.
7. Use Approved Cleaning Solutions
Many aligners will come with an approved cleaning solution. That's your best bet for cleaning them. If you run out or need a different option, cool water and antibacterial soap will do the job. You can also soak them in a denture cleaner. Don't use mouthwash! Mouthwashes are colored, which can stain your aligners.
By following these general tips and steps to maintain your invisible aligners, you'll get plenty of wear and life out of them, and you'll find that the process of getting that sparkling smile will be as smooth as silk. For more information and help, check out our website, and if you need a checkup, give us a call today!