How to Care for Clear Aligners Without Disrupting Your Daily Routine
Caring for your clear aligners.
For many people, one of the biggest benefits of clear aligners is that they have minimal impact on your daily life. True to their name, clear aligners are made of a transparent synthetic material that makes them nearly invisible on your teeth, allowing you to undergo treatment without the people around you realizing that you’re wearing them. Plus, since clear aligners are removable, you can keep eating all of your favorite foods throughout your treatment process. That said, clear aligners can stain easily, so you need to commit to caring for them properly if you want them to continue looking great and doing their job well.
But since part of the draw of clear braces is that they have a minimal impact on your life, is there a way you can care for them properly without disrupting your daily routine? The truth is that you will have to make some changes to your daily routine, but they don’t have to be major! To help you understand what living with clear aligners will be like, we’ve put together a guide on how to care for clear aligners with as few disruptions to your daily routine as possible.
Learn how to clean clear aligners properly.
Clear aligners scratch and stain easily, so it’s important to know how to clean them without harming them. Different types of clear aligners may have slightly different care instructions, but in general, the best method is to soak your aligners in lukewarm water and clear, unscented hand soap or a clear aligners cleaning solution. Generally, you should soak them every day for about 20 minutes (preferably when they’re going to be out anyway, such as when you’re eating) to loosen any built-up plaque or debris on them. Then use a soft-bristled toothbrush to gently remove any remaining particles and give them a good rinse before snapping them into place over your teeth.
Using lukewarm water is incredibly important because hot water can warp the shape of your aligners, preventing them from fitting your teeth correctly. You should also be careful to avoid scrubbing the aligners too hard, as this can scratch them and make them more opaque. Cleaning your aligners properly ensures that they smell fresh and continue looking invisible on your teeth throughout the treatment process, helping you feel more confident in your smile.
Know what cleaning materials to avoid.
Another important part of knowing how to clean clear aligners is knowing what to avoid cleaning them with. While it might make sense to clean your aligners with toothpaste, we actually recommend that you avoid it because it can be too abrasive. The same goes for homemade cleaners that include baking soda, soaps that contain dyes, scented soaps, or denture cleaners. Dyed soaps can stain your aligners, while scented soaps can make your aligner taste weird when you put it in.
Basically, if it’s not clear, unscented soap or professionally designed to clean your aligners, you probably shouldn’t try to use it to clean them! When you receive your aligners, however, you’ll also get more specific care instructions for your particular aligners, giving you a much better idea of what you can and can’t use to clean them!
Include caring for your aligners in your oral hygiene routine.
Your clear aligners need to be cleaned before you put them in at the beginning of every day, then rinsed with water when you take them out at night to brush your teeth. The best way to go about cleaning your aligners is to simply work it into your daily routine. Set your aligners to soaking before you eat breakfast or before you begin getting ready in the morning so that they’re ready to finish cleaning by the time you get to your regular oral hygiene routine.
When you floss and brush your teeth, take a few extra minutes to clean your aligners, then rinse them when you take them out to brush your teeth at night. This saves time and makes it easier to create a routine because you’re already in your bathroom taking steps to care for your oral health.
Store your aligners in an airtight case.
When you’re not wearing your aligners, storing them in an airtight case keeps them sealed off from bacteria, which is always important for something you’re going to be putting in your mouth! It also protects them from overly curious pets who might think they’ve found a new toy. Having a designated case for your aligners also makes it harder for you to lose them, as you’ll always know exactly where they are when they aren’t in your mouth. It’s a quick, simple step, but it’ll protect your aligners and make caring for them simpler.
Adjust your eating habits to make caring for your aligners easier.
Clear aligners allow you to eat all of your favorite foods throughout the treatment process because you can take them out before you eat. Removing them before you begin eating and brushing your teeth after you eat—even if you’re just having a small snack—is an essential part of keeping your aligners clear in the long run. Carrying a toothbrush and toothpaste around with you or keeping a set at work can help make this more feasible, but you can also adjust your eating habits to make it easier.
If you snack often throughout the day, you may want to begin having a larger snack at a specific time instead. This way, you only have to go through taking your aligners out and brushing your teeth one extra time a day! Not only does this save you time, but it’s generally better for your teeth to avoid grazing on snacks throughout the day, anyway.
Replace your clear aligners when necessary.
Depending on your treatment plan, you’ll probably need to replace your aligners every one or two weeks. But how do you tell if your aligner needs to be replaced before this? If your clear aligner has become warped and isn’t fitting the way it should or is uncomfortable against your gums, this is a sign that it may be time to replace it.
Similarly, if the aligner is severely scratched or stained so that it no longer looks clear, it can become noticeable on your teeth and you may want to replace it. If you lose or damage an aligner not long after you began wearing it, you’ll likely need to have it replaced. While you wait for the replacement to arrive, you’ll need to wear your previous aligner instead of the damaged one, so it’s wise to hang onto your previous aligner just in case. On the other hand, if you’re about to begin wearing the next aligner in your treatment plan anyway, your dentist may simply tell you to switch a few days early.
Just like braces, clear aligners require you to take a few extra steps every day if you want to take good care of them. Thankfully, integrating these extra steps into your daily routine is actually pretty simple, making it easy to build these steps into simple daily habits. Doing this helps the aligners do their job better, helping you to maintain—and even build—your confidence in your smile throughout your treatment! If you’d like to learn more about clear aligners, whether they’re right for you, or how to clean clear aligners, feel free to schedule a consultation with our orthodontist at any time!