Invisalign clear aligners should be worn for 20-22 hours a day so you may be wondering how to clean them. Although the aligners are meant to be disposed of every couple of weeks, they still require cleaning. Otherwise, you can have a very smelly or dirty set of aligners to put on every day.
What is Invisalign?
Invisalign is an orthodontic treatment that straightens teeth without the use of metal braces. Invisalign is a series of custom-made clear aligners that cover your teeth and gently pull them into the proper position over time. Because they are clear and can be taken on and off, they are less noticeable than traditional metal braces.
Cleaning vs. rinsing Invisalign aligners
When it comes to Invisalign, there’s a difference between cleaning and rinsing. Rinsing the aligners may make them appear slightly cleaner, but you haven’t done anything to address the unseen bacteria that can build up.
This is the basic cleansing process for nightly cleaning:
- Rinse your aligners with water every night.
- Brush your aligners with a soft-bristled toothbrush (not the one you use to brush your teeth daily) and gentle, clear liquid soap to remove any debris or food particles that have accumulated during the day. Other products, including many types of toothpaste, can damage your aligners.
- Rinse thoroughly after brushing.
- Store in a protective case whenever they aren’t in use.
How often should you clean your aligners?
You should clean your aligners on a nightly basis, usually at the same time you brush and floss your teeth. This helps to remove any built-up food, debris, and bacteria you naturally accumulate during the day.
You can also clean your Invisalign when they appear visibly dirty. In addition to more extensive cleaning measures, you should also rinse your aligners each time you take them off.
Even though you change your aligners every 2 weeks, they’re still worth cleaning carefully.
Failure to do so can cause the aligners to appear discolored (making your teeth look yellow) or can cause bad breath. Plus, you’re continually exposing your teeth to built-up bacteria.
Other cleaning products from Invisalign
One of the best ways to clean your aligners is to use a cleaner designed for Invisalign. Invisalign sells a “Steraligner” product. Ingredients include rubbing alcohol and sodium bicarbonate, a natural antiseptic. To clean your aligners, you place them in the tray and soak for 3 minutes. Rinse the sterilizing solution off, and brush with warm water.
Invisalign also sells cleaning crystals that you dissolve in water and soak your aligners in. These crystals contain cleansing agents, including sodium sulfate. These ingredients are similar to those of products used to clean retainers (but not denture cleaners) if you’re looking for a less expensive and more accessible alternative.
To keep your aligners clean and maintain your oral hygiene, you also need to focus on regular brushing and flossing. Without proper oral care, the food and plaque on your teeth stay there when trapped under the trays, which can lead to dental problems. Contact our office if you have any questions or concerns.