It is estimated that, at any one time, around four million people in the United States are wearing braces. While many people may associate braces with unsightly and uncomfortable metals and wires, the field of orthodontics has modernized greatly in the past 20 years. Today, one of the most popular methods of straightening crooked teeth is Invisalign.
Invisalign is a form of braces that uses clear aligners, designed to gradually straighten teeth while being invisible and comfortable. These braces are also removable, which makes for easier cleaning and fewer restrictions on diet.
In this blog post, your expert team at Graber & Gyllenhaal Orthodontics will look at how to clean your Invisalign retainer. This includes tips for effective nightly cleaning, recommended cleaning accessories, frequency of cleaning, what the research says, and more. Let’s get started!
Tips for Effective Nightly Cleaning
The first thing to note is that there is a big difference between simply rinsing your Invisalign aligners and actually cleaning them. While a quick rinse may give them a better appearance, it won’t have done anything to address the buildup of bacteria. Here are some basic tips for cleaning your Invisalign aligners:
- Every night, rinse your aligners with running water
- Brush them using with a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Use a liquid soap to remove any food particles or debris
- Rinse thoroughly with water after brushing
- When not in use, store your aligners in a protective case
Invisalign aligners should be worn for between 20 and 22 hours per day, so only remove them when eating and as part of your daily oral healthcare routine. Wearing your aligners for less than the recommended time may increase the time it takes to straighten your teeth.
Storing your aligners in an airtight case not only helps to protect them from bacteria but also reduces the chance that you will lose them. Lost aligners can contribute to delays in the treatment process.
Cleaning Accessories to Consider
There are a number of cleaning accessories that you can use as part of your cleaning routine. One product, known as Steraligner, contains sodium bicarbonate and rubbing alcohol, which are effective for properly cleaning your aligners.
With Steraligner, you simply place your aligners in the provided tray for 3 minutes. Once this time has passed, rinse the solution off and brush your aligners with warm water.
Another product, known as cleaning crystals, works in a similar way. These ‘cleaning crystals’ dissolve in water and contain sodium sulfate as well as other cleaning agents.
How Often Should You Clean Your Aligners?
Invisalign aligners should be cleaned on a nightly basis. Once you get into a routine, it will be easy to clean them at the same time as you brush and floss your teeth. Cleaning is essential to remove any bacteria, as well as food and debris, that accumulate over the course of the day.
Outside of this, it is also recommended that you clean your aligners when they are visibly dirty. Every time you remove your aligners (such as before eating), it’s worth giving them a quick rinse. Even though aligners are regularly changed, it is still important to look after them as best as you can.
If you don’t clean your aligners regularly, you are exposing your teeth to built-up bacteria. Discolored aligners also make your teeth look more yellow than they are and can cause bad breath.
What Does the Research Say on Cleaning
There has been some research published on the most effective methods for cleaning Invisalign aligners. One such study was published journal ‘Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology’.
This study looked at 3 different approaches to cleaning aligners:
- Rinsing with water
- Brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush
- Brushing plus using effervescent tablets
The study found that the most effective method is brushing plus using effervescent tablets, followed closely by brushing with toothpaste. The least effective method was rinsing with water only.
Tips for Caring for Your Invisalign Aligners
Looking after your Invisalign aligners, as noted above, will reduce the amount of time it takes to achieve the desired result. Keeping them clean and free of bacteria is easy if you follow the tips in this blog post. Below are a number of general tips for proper care of your aligners.
Avoid drinking anything (apart from water) while you are wearing your aligners. Consuming beverages can damage or stain your aligners. Similarly, always remove your aligners while eating, otherwise, you risk damaging them.
While cleaning your aligners, avoid using very hot water to clean them. If you aren’t sure about any part of the cleaning process, don’t hesitate to speak to our team for advice.
How to Clean Your Invisalign: The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that cleaning your Invisalign aligners is essential and easy to do. Nightly cleaning while you are also brushing and flossing your teeth is recommended and should only take a few minutes. Rinsing your aligners after you take them out of your mouth is also advised.
The more you care for your aligners, the smoother the overall process will be. Proper cleaning will also help to keep them as clear as possible, which is important given that many people are self-conscious about the idea of wearing braces.
For more information on how to clean your Invisalign aligners, simply speak to our expert team. We have 2 convenient locations and are open for patients of all ages. For the best orthodontist in Glenview, IL, contact us today!