How to Clean and Care for Your Invisible Aligners
Invisible aligners are a great way to correct and straighten your teeth.
However, due to their removable nature, they do require a different kind of maintenance than your typical braces. In this article, we will guide you through how to clean and care for your invisible aligners as well as what to avoid.
How to Clean Your Aligners
There are multiple ways of cleaning your aligners. Most involve soaking your aligner trays in a water-based solution for a certain amount of time. Below you will find the most common:
Soak in Antibacterial Soap and Water
This is probably the easiest method for deeply cleaning your aligners. Just add a small amount of gentle, antibacterial soap into a bowl of slightly warm water. Mix these together until the soap has dissolved and bubbles appear on the surface.
Leave them to soak in the mixture for 20 to 30 minutes. Now that most of the bacteria has been eliminated from your aligners, rinse them thoroughly with cold water to finish the cleaning process.
Soak in White Vinegar and Water
Fill up a cup with semi-warm water and add in one tablespoon of white vinegar. Mix this together and then add in your aligners and leave them submerged for 15 to 20 minutes. Take your aligners out and then rinse them thoroughly with cold water. Leave them to dry before putting them back in your mouth.
Soak in Baking Soda and Water
Baking soda is a great way to clean your aligners at home, thanks to its deodorising qualities. Just mix a tablespoon of baking soda into a cup of water and soak your aligners in there for 30 to 60 minutes.
Make sure to rinse them thoroughly after and leave to dry before using them again.
Gently Brush Them with Non-Abrasive Toothpaste
If time is of the essence, then we recommend using a toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste to get the job done. However, you must brush your aligners gently, so as to not damage and scratch the plastic. You should also use an unused toothbrush for this, as your everyday toothbrush will have trace amounts of abrasive toothpaste on it, that will scratch or dull your aligners.
Please note, this should only be used as a last resort.
What to Avoid When Cleaning Your Aligners
Now that we’ve shown you the right way to clean your aligners, let’s focus on the wrong way. Below you will find a list of things you shouldn’t use to clean your invisible aligners:
Aligners are a lot more delicate than your actual teeth, so you can’t use the same tooth cleaning products on your aligners. Which means certain types of toothpaste are, unfortunately, not an option.
The reason for this is because most kinds of toothpaste have abrasive properties that can lead to scratches on your aligners’ plastic resin. These scratches can cause your invisible aligners to become a lot more visible, defeating their main purpose.
If you do want to use toothpaste, make sure it is in small quantities and is non-abrasive.
Another dental hygiene product you shouldn’t use on your aligners is coloured mouthwash.
The reason for this is simple. Coloured mouthwashes can permanently stain your aligners thanks to the fact they contain artificial colouring agents. If you do want to use a mouthwash, make sure that the product you use is designated “Clear”.
Using the Dishwasher
While it might seem like a convenient and easy way to clean your aligners, using a dishwasher is really not a good idea. Dishwashers clean their contents with very hot water, which can damage or discolour your aligners. Which leads us to our next point.
Hot water can, in fact, damage the plastic in your aligners. The heat from the water can warp the plastic, which will then change their shape. As aligners are specifically made for your teeth, any changes to their shape will make them inefficient at correcting your teeth, and in worse cases, completely unusable.
Avoid using bleach, alcohol and other harsh chemicals as they can permanently warp or discolour your aligners. Always opt for the gentler alternatives listed in this very article.
Tips for Everyday Care of Your Aligners
Now that we’ve shown you the do’s and don’ts of cleaning your aligners, let’s focus on things you can do throughout the day to keep your trays in tip-top shape.
Store Your Aligners in a Cool, Dry Place
When it comes to storing your aligners, make sure you keep them in their case and leave them in a cool and dry area. Leaving them in damp and warm areas can lead to increased levels of bacteria, and as a result, make them more odorous.
Brush and Floss Before Wearing Your Aligners
Brushing and flossing your teeth before wearing your trays is a proactive approach to keeping your aligners clean. This is a guaranteed way of minimizing plaque, bacteria and food particles from becoming trapped between your teeth, gums and your aligner.
Remove Aligners Before Eating or Drinking
On top of being very uncomfortable, consuming food or drink can damage your aligners if you’re still wearing them. Food, for instance, can scratch the plastic surfaces and also find its way between the trays and your teeth.
Certain foods and drinks can also stain the plastic, such as food with added colouring, and dark liquids like carbonated sugary drinks, coffee, red wine and even whiskey. You can use a straw to counteract this, but it is really recommended to not take the risk, and just take them out.
Forgetting to Take Your Aligners Out When You Eat or Drink
This is an easy mistake to make for patients who are new to wearing aligners. The remedy for this is simple, just take your aligners out as soon as possible and give them a good rinse. If you’re in a position to wash them thoroughly, then go right ahead and do that.
Keeping your aligners clean isn’t very complicated. The methods stated above are fairly easy to incorporate into your day to day life.