Invisalign is a popular orthodontic treatment that uses a series of clear aligners to straighten teeth. And while they may be nearly invisible, they’ll still require proper cleaning to keep your teeth and aligners healthy. In this guide, we’ll explore the step-by-step process for cleaning Invisalign and provide tips to make the process as easy and effective as possible.
Understanding Invisalign Cleaning
Before diving into the details of specific cleaning techniques, it’s important to understand why proper cleaning is essential. For one, regular cleaning can help prevent bacteria buildup that can lead to bad breath and other oral health issues. The aligners themselves can also become discolored and develop a foul odor if not cleaned regularly. By following the proper cleaning routine, you can keep your aligners in great shape and maintain optimal oral health.
Why Proper Cleaning is Essential
As mentioned, proper cleaning is essential for both your overall oral health and the care of your Invisalign aligners. Failing to clean teeth or aligners properly can lead to an increase in bacteria, which can result in tooth decay or gum disease. Additionally, aligners that are dirty can cause irritation to the gums, leading to discomfort or even infection.
Invisalign Cleaning vs. Traditional Braces Cleaning
One significant advantage of Invisalign over traditional braces is that the aligners can be removed. While they must be worn the majority of the day to be effective, this makes cleaning much easier. Unlike traditional braces that have many nooks and crannies for food and bacteria to get trapped, Invisalign aligners can be easily removed and cleaned.
Another advantage of Invisalign is that there are no food restrictions. With traditional braces, certain foods like popcorn and hard candies can damage the brackets and wires, leading to costly repairs. With Invisalign, you simply remove the aligners before eating and then clean them before putting them back in.
It’s also important to note that while Invisalign aligners are removable, they should be worn for at least 22 hours a day for optimal results. This means that you should only remove them for eating, drinking (except for water), brushing, and flossing.
Proper Cleaning Techniques
Now that you understand why proper cleaning is essential, let’s discuss the specific techniques you should use to keep your aligners clean.
First and foremost, it’s important to brush your teeth after every meal and snack before putting your aligners back in. This helps prevent food particles from getting trapped in the aligners and causing bacteria buildup.
You should also clean your aligners every morning and night with a soft-bristled toothbrush and clear, anti-bacterial soap. Be sure to rinse them thoroughly with lukewarm water before putting them back in your mouth.
In addition to daily cleaning, it’s recommended to soak your aligners in a cleaning solution once a week. There are many cleaning solutions specifically designed for Invisalign aligners, but you can also use a mixture of equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar. Simply soak your aligners for 20-30 minutes and then rinse them thoroughly with lukewarm water.
By following these proper cleaning techniques, you can ensure that your Invisalign aligners remain in great shape and that your oral health stays optimal.
Gathering Your Invisalign Cleaning Supplies
Before you begin the cleaning process, it’s important to gather all the necessary supplies. Fortunately, Invisalign cleaning requires just a few basic items that are easy to find.
Recommended Cleaning Products
- A soft-bristled toothbrush
- Denture cleaner tablets or Invisalign-branded cleaning crystal
- An antibacterial soap or mild dish soap
- Lukewarm water
Alternative Cleaning Options
If you’re looking for a more natural cleaning solution, consider using white vinegar or baking soda mixed with water. While these options can be effective, it’s important to note that they may discolor the aligners over time.
Daily Invisalign Cleaning Routine
To keep your Invisalign aligners sparkling clean, you’ll want to establish a daily cleaning routine. This routine should include rinsing, brushing, soaking, and drying your aligners.
Rinsing Your Invisalign Aligners
Take your aligners out of your mouth after eating or drinking anything aside from water. Rinse them under lukewarm water right away, and this will help to dislodge any food particles that may have become trapped on the aligners.
Brushing Your Aligners
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to brush your aligners gently. Avoid using toothpaste or any other abrasive cleaners, as these can scratch your aligners and break down the plastic material. It’s best to use a mild dish soap or antibacterial solution when cleaning your aligners. Be sure to brush all sides thoroughly to remove any buildup or bacteria.
Soaking Your Aligners
To give your aligners a deeper cleaning, consider soaking them in a solution of denture cleaner tablets or the Invisalign-branded cleaning crystal for 15-20 minutes. These products are specially formulated to remove any bacteria or discoloration that may exist on your aligners. After soaking, rinse your aligners again under lukewarm water, and dry them carefully with a clean, soft towel.
Drying and Storing Your Aligners
After cleaning and drying your Invisalign aligners, it’s important to store them properly to keep them in good condition. Place them in their protective case, making sure they are clean and dry first. Be sure to avoid placing them in hot water or direct sunlight, as these can cause the aligners to warp or discolor with time.
Deep Cleaning Your Invisalign Aligners
In addition to daily cleaning, it’s recommended to perform a deep cleaning of your aligners at least once a week to ensure they’re thoroughly cleaned.
When to Perform a Deep Clean
You should perform a deep clean whenever you start to notice discoloration or a buildup of bacteria on your aligners. This can usually be identified by an unpleasant odor emanating from the aligners or a visible film on their surface.
Using Ultrasonic Cleaners
If you have access to an ultrasonic cleaner, it’s a highly effective way to deep clean your Invisalign aligners. These cleaners use high-frequency soundwaves to remove buildup and bacteria from the aligners entirely.
Trying Denture Cleaning Tablets
If you don’t have access to an ultrasonic cleaner, denture cleaning tablets are a great alternative. Place your aligners in a bowl of lukewarm water with the denture cleaning tablet for about 15-20 minutes, then rinse thoroughly and dry carefully.
Cleaning your Invisalign aligners may seem like a hassle, but it’s an essential part of maintaining optimal oral health and keeping your aligners in the best possible condition. By following this step-by-step guide, you can ensure that your Invisalign journey is as effective and comfortable as possible.