Clear plastic aligners used in teeth straightening treatment with invisalign need to be cleaned on regular basis. The aligners are meant to be disposed every two weeks and they require regular cleaning. What happens if you ignore cleaning the plastic trays? You have a smelly set of aligners to wear every day.
In the following sections of the blog post let us explore the best practices to keep your invisalign aligners clean and free from smell.
Cleaning versus rinsing the aligners
There is a sharp difference between cleaning and rinsing when invisalign trays are concerned. When you rinse the trays they look little cleaner. But that does not take care of the harmful bacteria build-up on the device that none can see with naked eyes.
What are the best ways to keep the invisible aligners clean? This is a very common question that invisalign providers all over the world have to face. Let us break down the cleaning process in simple steps below:
- Rinse the aligners well with water every night.
- Get a second toothbrush with soft bristles (not the one you are currently using to brush your teeth) and gently brush the trays with it. Use a clear liquid soap while brushing to remove any food particles stuck to it.
- Rinse it again well once the brushing is over.
In addition to the points mentioned above, it is also important to keep it in its protective casing whenever it is not in use.
Cleaning accessories for invisalign aligners
Invisalign has a product named Steralinger; its ingredients include rubbing alcohol and sodium bicarbonate. It is worth mentioning the later, that is sodium bicarbonate, is a natural antiseptic. Steralinger comes with a tray. You lace the aligners in the tray and keep it soaked for just 3 minutes flat. Then rinse away the sterilization solution and finally brush gently with warm water. The aligners are just fresh as ever.
Invisalign has another product named cleaning crystals. It has to be dissolved in water and then soak your aligners in that solution. The crystals are made of a number of cleansing agents including sodium sulphate. These components are same as the products that are meant to clean retainers although these are not denture cleaners. This is the best alternative if you are looking for a more pocket-friendly, reasonably priced option.
The basic procedure to clean the aligners discussed above is sufficient to keep the aligners clean and hygienic for the night. But it is certainly not the best of the approaches.
Is there any research on best cleaning practices?
Yes, quite a number of researches have so far been carried out. One of such studies brings to light certain interesting findings. The research was done in three approaches as following:
- Rinsing the aligners with water
- Using effervescent tablet solution along with brushing and
- Brushing the plastic trays with regular toothpaste and a soft bristled toothbrush
At the end the researchers concluded the approach of effervescent tablets and brushing is the most effective way to clean invisalign trays. Furthermore, the study disclosed normal brushing with a regular toothpaste is just marginally inferior to effervescent tablets.
What is the ideal frequency to clean the plastic aligners?
You are required to clean the aligners every night. Preferably you should clean the trays at the time of brushing and flossing the teeth one final time before going to bed. This way you can easily remove any food debris or bacteria build-up that accumulate naturally throughout the day.
It is also important to clean the aligners whenever they look visibly dirty. Suppose you mistakenly drank something that was not clear and transparent, without taking out the aligners. Or you may have worn the aligners back in a hurry without cleaning the mouth properly after eating something.
As an additional measure you should rinse the aligner trays with plain water every time you take them off. Even if you wear a pair of aligners only for two weeks on average but it is crucial that they are carefully cleaned day in and day out.
What happens if you ignore proper and regular cleaning of the aligner trays?
If you ignore cleaning the aligners regularly as instructed the following issues are likely to crop up:
- The aligners can get discoloured and your teeth appear yellowish as a result.
- You can develop bad breath.
- Above everything else you are just continuously exposing the teeth and the gums to harmful bacteria build-up.
Cleaners you should avoid
Certain cleaners are too harsh and damaging for the plastic aligners. You should avoid those products. Those products include:
- Denture cleaners
- Scented soaps – you are likely to experience a bitter taste with these
- Mouthwashes – particularly those that are not alcohol-based
In addition to that it is advisable to avoid toothpastes to clean your invisalign trays clean. It is better to stay away from cleansing soaps that have extra dyes – like soaps that are blue, green or red in colour. These colourful soaps can easily dye the transparent plastic trays to make you look weird whenever you smile or open your mouth to speak.
Never use anything other than a toothbrush with soft bristles to clean your aligners. Even a brush with coarse bristles may prove too harsh and leave scratches on your virtually invisible plastic trays.
What are the best practices to care for the aligners?
Let us now explore some tried and tested measures to take proper care of your aligners as well as keeping them free from bacteria build-ups.
An renowned invisalign provider in London suggests, never forget to take the aligners out before eating or drinking anything. This saves your aligners from getting damaged – as such the precisely customised trays will not be as effective as meant to be in moving the teeth. It also prevents picking up of any stain. The chances of harmful bacteria build-up are also greatly reduced with this approach.
Do not drink anything hot with the aligners on and neither ever clean them in hot water. The plastic trays easily get deformed in hot water.