Caring for Your Clear Aligners

If you’ve made the choice to straighten your teeth with our Invisalign clear aligners, you’re on track to achieve a smile you can feel confident showing off! This innovative system is one of the simplest ways to improve your oral health and achieve a beautiful smile, and it’s one of our most popular alternatives to traditional metal braces here at Manley Orthodontics.

Patients love Invisalign’s comfort and flexibility, and the clear material means no one needs to know you’re in orthodontic treatment! As a removable appliance, however, there are some guidelines you’ll need to follow to ensure your clear aligners stay clean, safe, and fully functional. Keep reading for our top tips on how to care for your clear aligners!

First things first…what is a clear aligner system? 

Clear aligners started gaining popularity on the orthodontics scene about twenty years ago, but we’ve been using similar trays as retainers for much longer. While they certainly look very different, clear aligners and braces work in much the same way. Both treatments exert constant gentle pressure on your teeth that gradually moves them into the desired positions. But instead of brackets and wires, the Invisalign system moves misaligned teeth in stages with a series of aligners customized to each patient. These aligners are made of a special SmartTrack material that allows them to fit firmly but comfortably over your teeth. 

When orthodontists first started using clear aligners, it was mainly to correct simple spacing issues or mild crowding. However, the technology and design have evolved over time and the aligners we use at Manley Orthodontics can successfully treat many of the same orthodontic issues as braces. As simple as the Invisalign system is, there’s a certain amount of care that needs to be taken with your clear aligners to ensure they’re functioning as they should be. 

Follow your orthodontist’s guidelines!

Above all else, patient compliance is probably the most important part of Invisalign treatment! Unlike braces, which are fixed appliances that can only be adjusted or removed by a trained specialist, clear aligners rely on patient compliance to be effective. 

You’ll need to wear them for 20-22 hours every day throughout the course of treatment, and you’ll be responsible for switching each aligner out for the next in the series every 1-2 weeks, according to your customized treatment plan. This allows them to keep up with the movements your teeth are making. 

If you don’t follow the guidelines given to you by Dr. Manley, you may experience longer treatment times and subpar results.

Maintain basic hygiene when handling your clear aligners

Washing your hands is the first line of defense against germs and bacteria. To keep your aligners clean, we recommend washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before removing them. Pay particular attention to your fingernails and fingertips, since they’ll be coming into the closest contact with your mouth. Hand sanitizer can also be used if soap and water are unavailable, just be sure it’s at least 60% alcohol. 

Once you remove your aligner, place it in a clean, sealed container or leave it to soak in an approved solution. This keeps your clear aligners safe from bacteria and also prevents them from being accidentally misplaced or thrown away! Before putting the aligner back in your mouth, wash your hands again and rinse it off with water. If you’re able to, brushing and flossing before wearing your clear aligners will further improve your oral health and keep your mouth fresh and clean!

Clean your clear aligners properly

You’ll be wearing your aligners for over 20 hours a day, so it’s important to keep them squeaky clean! We recommend brushing your clear aligners twice a day. You can usually do this at the same time you’re brushing and flossing your teeth, but how you clean your Invisalign aligners is just as important as how often you clean them. 

For example, toothpaste is harsh on plastic and can damage the smooth surface of your aligners, leaving tiny scratches and grooves that can collect bacteria. These can also make the aligners uncomfortable to wear and may cause a cloudy appearance. You should avoid using toothpaste to clean your aligners, and instead use a very small amount of clear, unscented antibacterial soap or a 1:1 solution of white vinegar and lukewarm water. Brush the aligners gently, rinse them, and allow them to dry before putting them back into your mouth. 

We also recommend soaking your clear aligners with denture cleaning tablets or a special solution designed for use with clear aligners at least once a week. If you use denture tablets, just be aware that you will not need to soak your aligners as long as the packet instructions say. You’ll get the most benefit by soaking them for about half an hour instead of overnight. Remember to use only lukewarm or room temperature water to avoid misshapen aligners. 

Rinse your clear aligners every time you take them out

Remember that Invisalign clear aligners are designed to be removed any time you eat or drink anything other than water. Any time you remove your aligner, you should rinse it immediately. Our mouths and hands are both full of bacteria, and this can easily be transferred to aligners. Rinsing them as soon as you remove them will help prevent a dried-out film of bacteria from building up, keeping them clean and extending the lifespan of each aligner. 

Be sure to only use lukewarm water for rinsing, as the material aligners are made of is subject to expansion and contraction when exposed to extreme temperatures. This means that hot water or very cold water can warp them, making them less effective. 

Enjoy a clear alternative to braces at Manley Orthodontics

Invisalign clear aligners continue to be our most popular alternative to traditional braces and can be an excellent option for anyone looking for a more flexible way to straighten their smile! We’re excited to offer Invisalign clear aligners to patients in our offices in Issaquah and Sammamish

If you have any questions about maintaining a healthy smile and sparkling clean aligners during your treatment process, our team is here to help! Get in touch and we’ll be happy to discuss your concerns.

If you’re not a current patient but would like to learn more about how Invisalign clear aligners can help transform your smile, we’d love to hear from you! Contact us today to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Christian Manley.