If you have chosen Invisalign® for your orthodontic treatment option, you will receive a series of clear aligners that work to slowly move your teeth into their desired alignment. Once the desired alignment is achieved, a retainer helps maintain the new position. While you change your aligners every couple of weeks, daily cleaning and proper care of your aligners are necessary to help ensure you achieve the best results, reduce the risk of aligner damage, and keep your teeth healthy. Even though you should wear your aligners for 20 to 22 hours a day, there are some essential care tips to follow when you remove them. Caring for your retainer works in the same manner.
Here at New Leaf Rohnert Park, we understand how important a healthy smile is to you, and we are here to help answer all your Invisalign questions.
How to clean Invisalign® aligners and retainers?
When it comes to Invisalign®, there is a difference between rinsing and cleaning. Every time you remove or replace your aligner or retainer, you should be rinsing it off. Rinsing after removal helps remove food particles that may have come off from your teeth. Cleaning, however, helps to remove and kill unseen bacteria that can transfer from your teeth and build up inside the tray.
- Basic cleaning instructions include:
- Rinse your aligners with warm water.
- Use a soft-bristled brush and a gentle, clear liquid soap to brush and remove bacteria and debris gently.
- Soak your aligners or retainer in a cleaning product designed for retainers. Invisalign offers a cleaning solution, as well as cleaning crystals. Simply soak in this solution for the directed time. Soaking in these solutions can help remove any possible calcium build-up on the surface of the retainer or aligner.
- Rinse thoroughly and store in a protective case when not in use.
Best cleaning practices
Regular cleaning is essential to ensure your aligner or retainer stay in good condition. But it isn’t always about just the cleaning routine. Taking care of your Invisalign® products includes much more than that. Some additional things to consider include:
- When you remove your Invisalign® aligner or retainer to eat, you should rinse your aligner before putting it back in your mouth. It is also important to brush your teeth or rinse your mouth before placing it back. Food can be trapped in between your teeth, forming bacteria underneath your aligner. This can contribute to tooth decay and cause your aligner to retain an odor.
- Always talk with your orthodontist about the recommended cleaning solutions. Harsh solutions, such as denture cleaner, toothpaste, and mouthwash, can cause damage to your aligners or retainers. Also, always use a soft bristle brush designed for this product. Coarse brushes can cause damage.
- Avoid rinsing and cleaning with hot water. Hot temperatures can distort the aligners and interfere with your orthodontic treatment plan.
How often should you clean your Invisalign®?
When wearing your clear aligners, you should have them in your mouth for 20-22 hours a day. You should be rinsing them every time you take them out of your mouth to eat, but how often should you clean them? The best routine to get into is to clean your aligners every time you brush your teeth. Begin by brushing the debris with a soft-bristled brush, and then let the Invisalign appliance soak while you brush your teeth. This helps ensure that your teeth and your appliance receive regular cleanings and help promote good oral hygiene.
What happens when you don’t properly clean your retainers?
You may think, why take all this time and energy to clean something that I may only have for a couple of weeks before moving to a new one? The fact is, it only takes a short time for bacteria to build up in an aligner and, if not cleaned, that bacteria can contribute to bad breath and tooth decay. In addition, you have Invisalign® because it is less noticeable than traditional braces. However, those clear aligners can be yellow if not cleaned, making your teeth look yellow and discolored.
General care tips for Invisalign®
In addition to regular rinsing and cleaning, these general care tips will help keep your aligners and retainers clean, bacteria-free and reduce the risk of damage.
- Always remove them before eating. – Chewing can damage your aligners, and food particles can be trapped or build up in the aligners. This can cause damage and reduce the effectiveness of your treatment.
- Only drink water with your aligners in place. – Drinking water while wearing your aligners is fine but avoid any other beverages until you remove your aligners. This is especially true with tea, coffee, or red wine, as these can stain and discolor your aligners.
- Always store your retainers when you take them out. – Once you remove and rinse your Invisalign®, you need to put it into an airtight container designed for aligners or retainers. Simply removing them and placing them in a napkin or something while you eat increases the chances of accidentally throwing them away.
Frequently Asked Questions
When you start a new treatment, you likely have lots of questions. Here we answer some of the most common questions we hear asked when it comes to Invisalign.
1. How do I remove my Invisalign®?
Removing aligners isn’t as simple as just popping them out. If that were the case, you might find them falling out in the middle of a sentence. When you want to remove your aligner or retainer, simply take your fingertips to the back left side and slowly pull the aligner away from your molars. Repeat this on the right side before trying to completely remove the aligner.
2. Can you eat with Invisalign®?
NO! Eating with Invisalign can damage your aligners or retainers. Your teeth produce a great amount of force when you chew, which can damage or crack them. When this occurs, they will not work as they should and can slow your treatment process. In addition, the only thing you should drink with your aligners in is water. Any other beverage can stain your clear aligners. Always remove them before eating and drinking. And remember to put them in a safe container!
3. How long do Invisalign® aligners and retainers last?
Invisalign® aligners are designed only to be worn a couple of weeks before you move on to the next aligner. If these aligners are taken care of, they will last for their needed duration. Invisalign® retainers, designed to help retain the new position of your teeth, last for about six months before they need replacing.
If you still have questions about your Invisalign® products and treatment, the caring and professional team at New Leaf Rohnert Park is here to answer all your questions and concerns. Contact us online at any time or give the office a call at (707) 586-1549 today and let us help you achieve the healthy, beautiful smile you deserve!