If you’ve made the choice to straighten your teeth with our Invisalign or Clarity clear aligners, congratulations! These innovative systems are one of the simplest ways to improve your oral health and achieve a confident smile. Clear aligners are our most popular alternative to braces here at Sturgill Orthodontics, and with good reason. Patients love the flexibility they offer, and the invisibility factor means no one even needs to know you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment! As a removable appliance, however, there are some guidelines you’ll need to follow to ensure your clear aligners are clean, safe, and fully functional. Keep reading to learn tips for caring for your clear aligners!
But first…what is a clear aligner system?
While clear aligners exploded on the orthodontics scene about twenty years ago, we’ve been using similar trays as retainers for even longer. Although they look very different, clear aligners and braces work in much the same way—they both exert gentle but continuous pressure to the teeth that gradually moves them into the desired positions. But instead of brackets and wires, the Invisalign and Clarity systems move misaligned teeth in stages with a series of highly customized aligners.
These aligners are made of a special thermoplastic material that allows them to fit firmly but comfortably over your own teeth. When orthodontists first began using them, it was mainly to correct simple spacing issues or mild crowding. The technology and designs have evolved over time, however, and today’s aligners are able to successfully treat many of the same orthodontic issues that braces do. As simple as the systems are, there’s a certain amount of care that needs to be taken with your clear aligners to ensure they’re functioning as they should be.
Follow the guidelines for your clear aligners
Unlike braces, which are a fixed appliance that can only be removed by a trained specialist, clear aligners rely on patient compliance to work properly. You’ll need to keep them in for 20-22 hours every day throughout the course of treatment. You’ll also be responsible for switching each aligner out for the next in the series every 1-2 weeks, according to your customized treatment plan. This allows them to keep up with the movements your teeth are making. Failure to follow the guidelines given to you by our doctors can result in longer treatment times and subpar results.
Rinse your clear aligners any time you take them out
Our clear 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 full 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, keeping them clean and extending the lifespan of each aligner. Be sure to only use lukewarm water for rinsing, as the material aligners are made of is subject to expansion and contraction when exposed to extreme temperatures. 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. Take special care with 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 squeaky clean! 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 as important as how often you clean them, too.
For example, toothpaste is abrasive to plastic and can scratch the smooth surface of your aligners, leaving tiny scratches and grooves that can collect bacteria. These can also make the aligners uncomfortable to wear and may cause a cloudy appearance. You should avoid using toothpaste to clean your aligners, and opt instead for a very small amount of clear, unscented antibacterial soap or a 1:1 solution of white vinegar and lukewarm water. Brush the 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.
Find your best smile at Sturgill Orthodontics
Clear aligners continue to be our most popular alternative to traditional braces and can be a fantastic option for anyone looking for a more flexible way to straighten their smile! We’re excited to offer both Invisalign and Clarity clear aligners to patients in our Johnson City and Norton offices.
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 your concerns.
If you’re not a current patient but would like to learn more about how Invisalign or Clarity clear aligners can help transform your smile, we’d love to hear from you! Contact us today to schedule your FREE consultation with one of our experienced orthodontists.