Clear Aligner Hygiene
When your teeth straightening option of choice is the clear aligner, hygiene routine plays a crucial role. Okay, so while good oral hygiene should be second nature anyway, did you know that it’s even more important during your clear aligner treatment?
Think about it this way… even though your clear aligners are removable, you’ll be wearing them pretty much all of the time throughout the duration of your treatment, give or take a few hours a day. So, seeing as you’re going to be spending a lot of time getting acquainted with them, it makes sense that you’ll want them to stay clean, clear, and virtually invisible. Unfortunately, that won’t happen if you don’t adopt a good clear aligner hygiene routine. So here are some top tips on the best clear aligner care
Tip #1 – Eating or drinking? Take your aligners out
When it comes to wearing teeth aligners at home, the temptation to eat or drink with your aligners in might be too much, especially when you’ve just switched to a new one that may be difficult (and possibly painful) to remove. However, aside from the fact that subjecting any type of clear aligner to chewing forces may cause damage, from a hygiene perspective, you’ll find that food wants to stick to your clear aligner or up around the gum. So even if you didn’t remove it when eating, you’re now going to have to do exactly that in order to give it, and your teeth, a good clean.
When your teeth are encased inside your clear aligners, they don’t get the benefit of your body’s natural tooth cleaner – saliva! So, any remaining food debris left in or on your aligner is likely to be unsightly, cause yellowing or discoloration and can put your teeth at risk from exposure to plaque.
Coffee notoriously stains aligners an unpleasant shade.
So, remember– Always, always remove your clear aligner when eating/drinking anything but water.
Tip #2 – Use your storage case
Whether you order clear aligners online or from your local orthodontist, you’ll be supplied with an aligner storage case. This makes it easier for you to keep track of your aligner, and more importantly, it helps to protect it from external bacteria.
According to Science Daily, a person’s mere presence can add an additional 37 million bacteria to the air, at any given time. While this is mainly stirring up what has already been deposited, ideally you wouldn’t want this microbial concoction landing on your aligner, only for you to put it straight back into your mouth. By keeping your aligner in its storage case when you’re not wearing it, and cleaning it before you pop it back in your mouth, you are in effect limiting the onslaught of unwanted bacteria, while practicing good clear aligner hygiene at the same time!
Tip #3 – Hygiene best practices for clear aligners – Don’t forget to brush and floss like a boss!
Although our saliva is around 99% water, the remaining one percent contains a whole host of substances important for dental health and the control of microbial bacteria that naturally grow in the mouth. As stated earlier, it’s your body’s natural tooth cleanser and does a good job of fighting the good fight against plaque. The issue is that by the very nature of your clear aligner therapy, the acrylic trays prevent saliva from washing over the teeth. This is why it’s so important to brush and floss after every meal to prevent any kind of harmful plaque build-up.
So just how quickly does plaque build-up?
Here’s an interesting, if not rather alarming fact!
Not to scare you or anything, but new bacteria attaches to your teeth just 5 minutes after brushing your teeth! Then, during a rapid course of cell division, these bacteria will multiply and spread to form a thin layer of film. This allows other microbes to attach to it, and so on and so forth. In fact, in as little as 2-3 hours, plaque build-up can be visible to the naked eye. If proper clear aligner hygiene isn’t observed and plaque remains undisturbed via brushing or flossing, it will mineralize and turn into hardened tartar. In order to protect your teeth, especially when wearing invisible aligners, it’s even more important to clean your teeth and your aligner every time you eat. This way you keep your mouth as healthy as possible.
Oh, and talking of maintaining your clear aligner…don’t forget to clean it with antibacterial soap rather than toothpaste. Why?
Simply because many types of toothpaste contain abrasives which can, in turn, damage your clear aligner. Instead, use soap and warm (but not hot) water. If you do want to keep them further sanitized, you can always use a clear retainer cleaner or denture soak.
Most people would agree that undergoing aligner treatment is definitely worth the clear aligner cost, but only if the highest standards of clear aligner hygiene are met!