Over five million people have used Invisalign to improve their smiles. Considering the orthodontics treatment for straightening teeth can be more comfortable than wearing traditional braces, it’s easy to see why it’s a very popular option.

But using Invisalign isn’t maintenance-free. The trays used to align teeth need to be cleaned and cared for, or they can become a bacteria breeding ground.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to clean Invisalign trays.

How Does Invisalign Work?

Before we list some dos and don’ts about cleaning Invisalign trays, it’s important to understand what Invisalign is and how it actually straightens teeth.

Invisalign is a clear aligner teeth straightening system with more than 20 years of research behind it. Instead of wearing traditional braces, patients using Invisalign wear clear plastic aligner trays that are molded to the shape of their teeth.

Each aligner is worn every day for a specific time period. The aligner gently moves teeth towards a new position. After wearing the aligner for a specified amount of time, the patient receives a new modified aligner to wear that continues to move teeth into the desired position.

This process is repeated over the course of several months until the new aligned smile is achieved. How many aligners are needed and how long the total treatment period is depends upon the individual patient, how crooked the teeth are, and the smile they wish to achieve.

Invisalign is an orthodontics option for adults and teens.

How to Clean Invisalign Trays

Patients can experience the most satisfactory Invisalign results if they practice good oral hygiene and clean their aligner trays properly. The trays can trap bacteria and plague and develop an unpleasant odor if they’re not cared for properly.

All Invisalign users should make it a habit of removing their aligners before eating or drinking (unless they are drinking water). Following a meal or beverage other than water, they should brush and floss their teeth before putting the Invisalign aligner back on.

Clean teeth plus a clean aligner is the rule to remember and follow. Otherwise, placing the aligner onto dirty teeth can not only make the aligner dirty, but cause cavities, gingivitis, and other dental problems.

Even if your Invisalign trays never make contact with food or a beverage other than water, they still need to be cleaned regularly. Upon removing them from your teeth, give them a rinse under lukewarm (never hot) water to wash away some of the bacteria. This will help minimize germs and build-up.

But rinsing them is just the start. You also need to clean your Invisalign aligner every day using toothpaste, denture cleaner, anti-bacterial soap, or cleaning crystals designed for Invisalign.

Dos and Donts For Cleaning Your Invisalign Trays

There is more than one way to clean Invisalign trays. Here are some do and don’t tips to keep your tray clean and bacteria-free.

DO:

  • Clean your aligner with a toothpaste and toothbrush, but choose a gentle formula and brush.
  • Use a very soft-bristled toothbrush, an all-purpose toothpaste (one formulated for children works well) and always brush the aligner lightly and gently.
  • Clean your aligner with a denture cleaner tablet. Follow the directions for dissolving the cleaner in warm water and let your aligner soak for the recommended period of time.
  • Use cleaning crystals designed for Invisalign trays. They are available online and work the same way as denture cleansers by dissolving in water. They will safely clean and sanitize your tray without the need for brushing them.
  • Use a clear anti-bacterial soap.
  • In a pinch, sanitize your Invisalign aligner by placing it in vodka. The alcohol has natural anti-bacterial properties.

DON’T:

  • Use a whitening toothpaste to clean the tray. They tend to be more abrasive and can scratch the aligners. These scratches can hide bacteria.
  • Use a colored anti-bacterial soap. They can deposit color and leave stains inside the aligner.
  • Use hot water to rinse and clean your aligner. Hot water can begin to melt the trays and change their shape.

If you do experience any problem with your Invisalign trays such as color changes, scratches, or warping, discontinue using them. Contact your orthodontist’s office right away.

Keep Up Your At-Home Oral Hygiene

In addition to keeping your Invisalign trays clean throughout the treatment progress, it’s important to practice good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth at least twice a day using an electric or soft-bristled toothbrush. Floss them at least once daily.

Keeping teeth and gums clean will allow Invisalign to do its job better. It will also prevent food debris and plague from getting trapped between your teeth and the aligner.

You should also continue to see your dentist every six months for a check-up and cleaning. They can assess your at-home oral care routine and make sure you’re doing a good job. Your dentist will also treat any problems such as cavities and gingivitis.

Eat a healthy, balanced diet that contains fruit, vegetables, and dairy products. These food groups will keep teeth strong. Limit your intake of sugary and sticky foods to minimize tooth decay.

Having dental work done may change the shape of your teeth, meaning the current Invisalign tray may not fit properly. It’s a good idea to have any needed dental work done first before receiving an Invisalign evaluation.

Is Invisalign Right For You?

Now that you know how to clean Invisalign trays, you may be considering using Invisalign to achieve a beautiful smile.

At Whitlock Orthodontics, we offer Invisalign, SureSmile, and traditional braces. All these treatment options can straighten your teeth.

To learn more about these treatments, request an appointment with us. We’ll be happy to assess your smile and help you decide if Invisalign is right for you!