Clear aligners are a really popular alternative to traditional braces for lots of reasons. But for most people, the biggest benefit is that clear design that makes the aligners almost invisible while they’re being worn. With clear aligners, you can get the beautiful, straight teeth you want, and you don’t have to feel self-conscious about the way you look while you’re getting treatment.
Today’s clear aligner systems like MTM® Clear Aligner and ClearCorrect® use special technology to shorten treatment times, so you can start enjoying your results even faster than you can with regular braces in most cases. Of course, if you want to keep enjoying those important benefits, you need to take a few simple steps to make sure your aligners stay in good shape.
Keep them clean
Cleaning your aligners regularly — like, every time you brush your teeth — will help them keep that clear finish you like so much, and it will also remove plaque and bacteria that can cause bad breath. The good news is, keeping them clean is simple. All you need is a soft-bristled toothbrush and a non-whitening toothpaste. (Whitening toothpastes have abrasives that can scratch and dull the aligner material, making them more visible.) With the aligners out of your mouth, gently brush the aligners, inside and outside, making sure to reach every surface. When you’re done, rinse them well with cool or lukewarm water (not hot water) and they’ll be all ready to wear. Regular, twice-daily cleaning also gets rid of bacteria that can cause cavities, so don’t skip this important care tip.
Take them out when you eat (yes, even for snacks)
Foods are a major cause of tooth stains, and they can stain your aligners, too. Plus, your aligners aren’t designed to withstand the forces of chewing. If you keep them in while you eat, you can damage their shape, making them less effective in straightening your teeth. And you can also scratch and discolor them, so they wind up being a lot more visible while you’re wearing them. Always take your aligners out before you start eating. And if you drink anything that has a dark pigment, like coffee, tea, or some dark fruit drinks, you should also remove your aligners to prevent staining them.
Rinse them regularly
When you take your aligners out for meals, it’s a great time to freshen them up with a quick rinse. Run them under cool tap water or squirt them off with your water bottle to remove plaque and bacteria and just give them a general freshening-up. It’s also important to rinse your mouth really well after eating to avoid trapping food particles between your teeth and the aligners. Trapped food particles can increase the risk of cavities, and they can also be visible through the aligner material, detracting from your beautiful smile.
Use the case
To be effective, you need to wear your aligners for 20 to 22 hours each day. But when you do take them out for meals and snacks, it’s important to protect them. Sure, it can be tempting to put them in your pocket or inside your purse. But that means they can be damaged, bent, or scratched — none of which is good. Carry the case with you at all times, and you’ll always have a secure place to stow your aligners when they’re not in your mouth.
Keep them out of heat
Your aligners may be made of “space-age” plastic, but that doesn’t mean they’re impervious to heat. Like “regular” plastic, your aligners can be warped if they’re exposed to hot temperatures — for instance, if you leave them on the dashboard of your car when you go to a restaurant. Always keep your aligners in their case when they’re not in your mouth, and keep that case in a cool spot that’s protected from harsh heat.
Call if you have questions
Finally, if you do damage your aligners in some way, it’s not the end of the world. At Chester Family Dentistry, we want your straightening experience to be hassle-free. Just give us a call and we’ll figure out the best option for you. And if you have any other questions or concerns about your treatment — or if you'd like to find out which clear aligner system is a good choice for helping you get beautiful, straight teeth — book an appointment online today.