Top tips: caring for Invisalign® aligners

Here at Lake Jackson Orthodontics, we’ve been creating beautiful smiles for families in our community since 1978. We’re able to do that with a variety of treatment options, including braces and Invisalign clear aligners. We’ve had a lot of success with the Invisalign system over the years, and many of our patients love the flexibility these aligners offer!

In many ways, clear aligners are easier to care for than traditional braces, but there are still some guidelines patients need to follow to ensure they stay clean and protected from harm. Unlike braces, which are fixed appliances, Invisalign aligners are removable. That means it’s up to each patient to ensure they’re cared for so they can function properly.

If you’ve recently embarked on your orthodontic journey with Invisalign, our expert team is here to help you make the most of it. Keep reading for our best tips on keeping your clear aligners in tip-top shape from the first day of treatment to the last.

A quick review of Invisalign

Orthodontists have been using Invisalign with great success for twenty years or so, although similar trays have been used as retainers for even longer. While they look quite different from braces, the two appliances work in much the same way. They both exert gentle but continuous pressure on the teeth, which gradually moves them into the optimal positions. However, there are no brackets and wires involved with Invisalign. Instead, the system uses a series of clear, removable aligners to straighten smiles!

Invisalign’s clear aligners are made of a patented thermoplastic material that’s customized to fit firmly over your teeth. When orthodontists first began using them in this way, it was to correct simple spacing issues or mild crowding. Over time, the technology and designs involved have evolved. The aligners we use today can successfully treat many of the same orthodontic issues that braces do! As simple as the Invisalign system is, there’s a certain amount of care that needs to be taken with your clear aligners. We’ll go over these guidelines below!

Caring for your clear aligners

Invisalign aligners are removable and rely on patient compliance. You’ll need to keep them in for 20-22 hours every day throughout treatment for them to work properly. You’ll also be responsible for switching each aligner out for the next in the series every 1-2 weeks. This allows them to keep up with the movements your teeth are making. Failure to follow these guidelines can result in longer treatment times and may even affect your final results.

Rinse your clear aligners any time you take them out

Invisalign 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.

Careful rinsing of your aligners will keep them clean and help extend the lifespan of each aligner. Be sure to only use lukewarm water, though, as the material each aligner is made of is subject to expansion and contraction when exposed to extreme temperatures. Extreme temps, like 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 with care

You’ll be wearing your aligners for over 20 hours a day, so it’s important to keep them clean and fresh! 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. This can leave tiny scratches and grooves that are susceptible to bacteria and may make the aligners uncomfortable to wear. For this reason, you should avoid using toothpaste to clean your aligners. Opt instead for a very small amount of clear, unscented antibacterial soap or a 1:1 solution of white vinegar and lukewarm water. Brush your Invisalign 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.

Top Tips: Caring For Invisalign Aligners

Invisalign: the clear choice for healthy smiles at Lake Jackson Orthodontics

There’s a reason that Invisalign clear aligners are our most popular alternative to braces year after year! They can be a great option for anyone looking for a subtle way to straighten their smile. We’re proud to offer this exciting system to Lake Jackson families!

Have questions on maintaining a healthy smile and clean aligners during the treatment process? We’re happy to help! If you’re not a current patient but would like to learn more about Invisalign clear aligners, we’d love to hear from you, too! Get in touch today to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. McGrory and take the first step towards the confident smile you deserve.