July 30, 2021

Caring for Your Clear Aligners

Salt Lake City Braces - Orthodontist in Salt Lake City, Utah

Invisalign clear aligners are the most commonly-chosen alternatives to traditional metal braces at Foothill Orthodontics, and the reason is, well, clear: Invisalign is one of the simplest ways to improve your oral health and achieve your confident new smile! Patients love the flexibility that Invisalign offers, and, since they’re next to invisible, no one even needs to know you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment! As a removable appliance, however, there are some basic care guidelines you’ll need to follow to ensure your clear aligners are clean, safe, and fully functional. Keep reading for tips for caring for your clear aligners!

But first…what is a clear aligner system? 

Clear aligners made a splash in the orthodontics community about twenty years ago, but we’ve been using similar trays as retainers for a long time. Though they may look very different, clear aligners and braces work in much the same way—they both exert constant gentle pressure on your teeth that gradually moves them into the desired positions. But instead of brackets and wires, the Invisalign system moves misaligned teeth in stages with a series of personalized plastic 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 started using them, it was mainly to correct simple spacing issues or mild crowding. The technology and design have evolved over time, however, and today’s aligners are able to successfully treat many of the same orthodontic issues as braces. As simple as the Invisalign system is, there’s a certain amount of care that needs to be taken with your clear aligners to ensure they can keep working as they should. 

Follow the guidelines from your doctor

Unlike braces, which are fixed appliances that can only be removed by a trained specialist, patient compliance is an essential part of making sure that your clear aligner treatment succeeds. 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 Dr. Chandler and Dr. Anderson can result in longer treatment times and subpar results.

Rinse your clear aligners any time you take them out

Invisalign clear aligners are designed to be removed any time you eat or drink anything other than water. Any time you take an aligner out, you should rinse it immediately. Our mouths are full of bacteria that can easily be transferred to aligners, so 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 squeaky 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 touch the most potentially dirty surfaces and will 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 you remove your aligner, 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 improve 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 just as important as how often you clean them. 

For example, toothpaste is harsh on 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, subject to breaking or cracking, and may cause a cloudy appearance. 

You should clean your aligners with either 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 Foothill Orthodontics

Invisalign clear aligners continue to be our most popular alternative to traditional braces and can be a great option for anyone looking for a more flexible way to straighten their smile! We’re excited to offer Invisalign clear aligners to our Salt Lake City patients, to help you discover your stunning new smile.

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 clear aligners can help transform your smile, we’d love to hear from you! Contact us today to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Jeff Chandler and Dr. Brian Anderson.

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