Are you heading to your local orthodontist to find out more about your teeth-aligning options? If so, clear aligners are a great choice for adults and teens and Invisalign has already been used and loved by 10 million patients!

That being said, it’s important to understand some of the key differences between clear aligners and traditional braces. While both achieve the same end goal, they require different kinds of care.

When you use clear aligners, it’s best to keep them on for about 22 hours out of the day. What can you do to make sure that they’re clean and well taken care of during that time?

Your orthodontist in Billings, MT is here to help! Read on to learn how to take care of your clear teeth aligners after starting Invisalign.

Remove Your Clear Aligners to Eat

Whether you’re sitting down to a four-course meal or getting ready to have a quick snack, take your aligners out first. Why?

One thing we tend to take for granted is the absolute strength of our teeth and jaws. When we’re chewing, we’re exerting a ton of pressure on the food we eat. While your teeth are built to handle this impressive feat, your clear aligners are not.

When you eat with your aligners in, you run the risk of cracking or damaging the trays. This can create discomfort but more importantly, it can disrupt the progress of your Invisalign experience. It’s always worth it to pop those trays out before taking a bite.

Avoid Colorful Drinks When Wearing Your Invisalign

What about when you’re taking a sip of a beverage? Do you need to take your clear aligners out then, too?

Keep in mind that your clear aligners are, well, clear! You want to keep them that way and that means that cool, clear water is the only beverage you can drink with your aligners in.

Coffee, juice, and even colorful flavored waters can all stain your clear aligners. Once they’re stained, there’s not much to be done about it. Keep those aligners clean and clear by removing them before you drink anything other than water.

Rinse Your Clear Aligners Each Time You Remove Them

If you’re taking your aligners out to eat or drink, it’s a good idea to give them a thorough rinse. Our mouth builds up quite a bit of bacteria, both good and bad, and some of that bacteria will transfer from your teeth to your aligners. When you’re cleaning your aligners three or four times a day, you reduce the risk that bacteria will start to build up on the trays–which keeps them from getting funky.

We recommend cleaning your aligners as soon as you take them out. That way, you don’t forget to do it and they’re ready to go when you are. (Putting them in their case when you aren’t wearing them is also a good way to keep them clean and damage-free.)

Stick to Lukewarm Water

It can seem tempting to use really hot (or cold) water to clean your clear aligners. After all, extreme temperatures can kill off a lot of bacteria, right?

The problem is that your aligners are made of strong but nevertheless malleable plastic. When exposed to hot or freezing cold temperatures, your aligner trays will start to warp. Plastic tends to contract or expand when introduced to extreme temperatures, which would cause permanent damage to your clear aligners.

When you’re rinsing your clear aligners, stick to lukewarm water.

Don’t Use Toothpaste on Your Aligners

It’s natural that you’ll want to use more than just water to clean your clear aligners. However, toothpaste is not the right choice.

Toothpaste is too abrasive (think gritty) for your clear aligners. Using even a children’s toothpaste can scratch or “eat away” at your Invisalign trays.

Denture cleaner is similar to toothpaste in that it’s too abrasive for clear aligners. Mouthwash may contain ingredients that aren’t good for the plastic and artificial coloring that could stain your trays.

When you’re looking for that extra clean, reach for retainer cleaner, instead.┬áIf you can’t find any at your grocery store or drug store, ask your local orthodontist about it.

Ready to Pop Those Aligners Back In? Brush and Floss First

Remember that oral bacteria we talked about earlier? There are about 700 species of microorganisms living in your mouth. Some of them are good and work to fend off the bad bacteria but unfortunately, there’s no avoiding the bad bacteria from day to day.

What can we do about it? Brush and floss at least twice a day. In fact, you should brush and floss every time you’re about to put your aligners back in.

When we let oral bacteria run wild, it starts to join forces with our saliva and other “colonies” to form sticky plaque along the gumline. This isn’t great for your teeth and gums and it’s not something you want to come into contact with your clear aligners. By brushing and flossing after each meal, you give your aligners a clean surface to hang out on!

Need Family Orthodontics in Billings or Creekside? Come to TruSmile

Clear aligners are a great teeth-straightening solution for teens and adults. They’re more discrete than braces but accomplish the same goals! The trick is to make sure that you’re taking care of them well so that they stay clean and clear and perform the job they were designed to do.

Looking for Billings orthodontics or Creekside orthodontics? TruSmile is here to serve you and your family. We offer Invisalign, traditional braces, clear braces, and more.

Take a look at our new patient info to find out more about our orthodontic services, scheduling, and more.