If you’ve got Invisalign®, you’re probably excited about all the benefits it offers compared to traditional orthodontics, like a virtually invisible design and a simpler and faster treatment process for most patients. With Invisalign, you can even eat the foods you want — hello, corn on the cob! What you might be wondering about, though, is how to care for your aligners so they look their best. Or maybe you’re still considering Invisalign and concerned the care routine might be too involved for your schedule. In either case, we’ve got the answers you’re looking for.

5 tips to care for your aligners

Invisalign aligners are made of patented, durable material that’s not only clear — it’s also very responsive, which is one of the ways it helps move your teeth into their proper positions. To help you Invisalign aligners look and work their best, you need to keep them in good shape. Here’s how to do it.

Brush them twice a day

No, your aligners can’t get cavities, but that doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from regular brushing. Cleaning your aligners with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a small amount of toothpaste keeps your aligners smelling and tasting fresh, and it also removes sticky plaque and bacteria that can cause bad breath. Brush all the surfaces of the aligner trays, inside and out, and avoid whitening toothpaste. Why? Because whitening pastes contain mild abrasives that can dull your aligners, making them more visible while they’re in your mouth.

Take them out when you eat (yes, even for snacks)

It’s true, you can eat whatever you like with Invisalign, which is one reason why it’s so popular. With braces, you need to avoid foods like corn on the cob, chewy bagels, and hard pretzels to prevent damaging the wires and brackets. With Invisalign, you take your aligners out when you eat, so you can enjoy all your favorite foods. Now, sometimes it may seem tempting to eat with the aligners in place, especially if you’re eating with friends and don’t want to take your aligners out in front of them. But that’s not a good idea. Your aligners are durable, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be damaged. If you eat while they’re in your mouth, they can get stained or scratched, and they might even lose their shape. For these reasons, you should always take your aligners out before you eat — even snacks. And it’s also a good idea to remove them before drinking beverages with dark pigments, like coffee or fruit punch, just so they don’t get stained.

Rinse them afterward

Once your meal or snack is over, take a minute or so to rinse your aligners before you pop them back into your mouth. Rinsing them helps freshen them so you keep bad breath at bay. You can rinse them under the tap or with a quick squirt from a water bottle. While you’re at it, rinse your mouth, too. Rinsing removes tiny food particles that can get trapped between your aligners and your teeth. Not only can trapped food cause bad breath, it can also provide a very visible (and unattractive) reminder of your recent meal.

Keep them in their container

To be effective (and to work in the shortest amount of time), you need to wear your aligners for 20 to 22 hours per day — even while you sleep. Since they’re in your mouth so much, you might think the aligner container isn’t all that important. But you’d be wrong. For the brief period of time they’re out of your mouth, your aligners can get scratched or bent if they’re not protected. Tossing them in a purse or drawer or shoving them in your pocket just isn’t enough. You need to use that container — and carry it with you all the time. (You might want to rinse it when you rinse and clean your aligners, just to keep it fresh, too.)

Avoid direct sun and heat

Finally, even though your aligners are tough, they’re still made of plastic (albeit a very “advanced” plastic), and that means they can be damaged by heat. To keep that from happening, don’t leave your aligners in the sun or on top of a hot surface when they’re out of your mouth.

All the answers to your Invisalign questions

If you do wind up damaging your aligners, don’t sweat it. Give us a call and we’ll be happy to help. At Forest Hills Orthodontic Associates, we want all our patients to have a great Invisalign experience. If you’ve got questions about Invisalign or if you’d like to find out if Invisalign is a good choice for you, book an ppointment online today.