woman smiling with hand up to her mouth with Invisalign clear braces alignerSo, you’re considering Invisalign clear aligners, or maybe you already have them. Congratulations on the first step of your journey to a straighter smile! Invisalign’s revolutionary technology has shaped modern orthodontics and remains one of the most effective and subtle options on the market.

Invisalign exceeds traditional metal braces in many ways, but one of the most appealing ways is the ease with which you can incorporate it into your lifestyle. While traditional metal braces require changes to your diet, your oral hygiene practices, and your participation in sports, among other things, Invisalign doesn’t have to impact any of these things. Life with Invisalign is practically identical to life without Invisalign—except your teeth are getting straighter!

Read these tips on how to care for your Invisalign clear aligners and keep your straightening process on track.

1. Wear them at least 22 hours a day

Your Invisalign clear aligners are very easy to remove and put back in. So when should you wear them, and when should you take them out?

To work correctly and meet the timelines that your dentist has set for you, you will need to wear your aligners for 22-24 hours a day. That means that you should remove them only when eating, performing daily oral hygiene routines, or playing certain sports.

Since the aligners don’t have the sharp metal brackets that traditional braces have, it is safe to play sports. You only need to remove Invisalign for physical activity if you play a sport that requires a mouthguard. Just pop the aligners out, put in your mouthguard, and play hard! When finished, your aligners can go back in.

2. Clean your aligners regularly

Keep your aligners clean by brushing them with a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste. Since you wear them for 22 hours per day, they’re going to need cleaning, just like your teeth. When you brush your teeth in the morning and at night, brush your aligners at the same time. This will help prevent bacteria buildup, cavities, and tooth decay.

3. Rinse your aligners when you remove them to eat or drink

Rinse your aligners when you remove them to eat or drink for the same reason it’s important to brush them regularly. Keeping your aligners clean helps prevent anything that could damage your teeth from breeding, causing tooth decay and other issues.

If you’re at a restaurant or out somewhere, ask the server for a glass of water and do a quick rinse. Then, put your aligners back in their case. Avoid letting them soak in a glass of water at a restaurant, the server may accidentally clear the cup, and you could lose your aligners.

4. Don’t eat with your aligners in

While traditional braces may require you to cut out sticky, chewy, or crunchy foods, Invisalign makes it easy — just remove your aligners when you eat and put them back in afterward. Your diet can remain the same, so you can continue to enjoy popcorn, toffee, and corn on the cob.

It’s essential not to eat with your aligners. The force of chewing can crack and break your aligners which means a trip to the dentist for a new set and a longer treatment time to accommodate the dentist visits.

5. Bush your teeth after eating and drinking

Another hygiene tip for your Invisalign aligners is to brush your teeth after eating and drinking anything other than water. Your clear aligners fit snug on your teeth, and if you have food particles or bacteria on them, you could create a ground for bacteria to multiply and damage your teeth. Additionally, food and drink trapped between your teeth and aligners could discolor your teeth and your aligners. If your teeth become discolored, you may need professional whitening to reverse it. If your aligners are stained, your clear aligners aren’t so clear anymore, and you may need a new set.

This is simple to do at home, but when you’re out, you might feel tempted to skip this step. Keep a small toothbrush and tube of toothpaste in your purse, car, or pocket. Excuse yourself to the bathroom after your meal or drink and brush your teeth. You and your teeth will be happy you did.

6. Store your clear aligners in their case

Store your aligners in their case to protect them and ensure they don’t get lost. This is an easy tip that many people overlook. If you want, you can buy more than one case to have one around the house, one in your car, and your purse, so if you forget it, you’ll be covered.

Misplacing your aligners is easy to do at a restaurant or someone’s house for dinner. If you place them under a napkin, your server or host may swipe them into the garbage without knowing they’re there.

Your aligners are in danger of damage, too, when they’re out of your mouth. Since they’re so small and clear, it’s easy to push them off tables, set things on them, and smoosh them at the bottom of a purse or break them in your pocket. Always store your aligners in their case to keep them safe.

7. Don’t use mouthwash on your aligners

It might be tempting to soak your Invisalign aligners in mouthwash, but don’t! Many types of mouthwash have dies and harsh ingredients that could stain or damage your aligners. There are rinses available to soak your aligners, but water and brushing them should do the trick. Opt for these solutions instead of mouthwash. And, make sure you rinse your teeth thoroughly of the mouthwash before putting your aligners back in.

8. Tell your Invisalign dentist about cracks and rough edges

Tell your Columbia dentist right away if you accidentally damage your Invisalign trays. You may stop progress or push your teeth in the wrong direction with damaged aligners.

Many people in Columbia, SC, are straightening their teeth with Invisalign. If you’d like to straighten your smile, too, call (803) 781-9090 or schedule an appointment online.