As a husband, father, clear aligner patient, and practicing Orthodontist, I’ve learned a lot over the years about people’s breath. Here are a few things in particular.
One, morning breath stinks, no matter who you are. Two, there's about a four minute delay between reinserting aligners and feeling self-conscious about Invisalign bad breath. And three, wearing plastic trays for 22 hours a day will dry your mouth out. Big time.
So here are my five best tips for eliminating bad Invisalign breath and dry mouth during your clear aligner smile journey.
- Drink plenty of water
- Keep your trays clean
- Brush your tongue
- Upgrade your toothpaste
- Floss after every meal
Drench Your Mouth In Water
Bad breath and Invisalign dry mouth is not something you'll cure, because the causes are organic and just a fact of life. But the number one way to abate these causes is to maintain a healthy saliva flow (as gross as that may sound). Saliva is our mouth's natural cleansing agent and is the number one way to keep breath fresh and prevent Invisalign dry mouth. Keep that saliva flowing by drinking lots of water throughout the day. Set a goal to exceed the daily recommended intake of 15 cups for men and 11 cups for women and you'll be doing your mouth and your body good.
But sometimes you just need a break from la agua. When you're starting to get that not-so-fresh feeling and want some flavor, try Movemints clear aligner mints. They have patented grooves that fit comfortably between your trays, and are 100% sugar free so you can eat them while wearing Invisalign. Movemints are the best xylitol mints for dry mouth because those grooves provide a hands-free way way to seat your trays, making them a great alternative to those foam chewies.
Keep Your Clear Aligners Clean and Clear
Don't eat or drink anything other than water with them in, for as long as you can help it. We realize that’s easier written than done, so if you absolutely do have to sneak a coffee or light snack, rinse out your mouth and trays out as soon as possible.
Always brush your teeth after every meal, and try a pump of Soluria SmileSaver sanitizing spray in each tray before you reinsert. This wonderful substance is our favorite wearable cleaning foam because it is peroxide free and completely safe to use with clear aligners. Plus it gets to work in no time - just 60 seconds is all it needs to eliminate bad breath causing bacteria from your plastic retainers.
Stains will be more of a problem if you are on a three week cycle, so keep that in mind when you cheat. If you are replacing trays every two weeks, you can afford to get a little loose after the tenth day.
Brush Your Tongue
Did you know that more than 700 different bacterial species live in your mouth? Not all of them are harmful, but every single one of them love to call your tongue home. That's why giving it some attention every time you brush your teeth is one of the best tips for fighting bad breath.
See, your tongue is very much like a sponge, with all it's papillae creating plenty of space for bacteria to camp out and multiply. And when bacteria multiple (even good bacteria), they give off a foul rank that's hard to mask. The back of your tongue is a major hideout, so work on controlling that gag reflex and get back there with your toothbrush.
There are other benefits to brushing your tongue, like more vibrancy in your taste buds and prevention of other nasties like black hairy tongue and oral yeast infections. Your toothbrush is a fine tool for cleaning, but if you want to go the extra mile try a scraper like the Asana Tongue Cleaner from Boka. The curved stainless steel design is gentle and effective, and great for those with an overactive gag reflex.
Upgrade Your Toothpaste
Anyone who has been in a drug store or supermarket knows there are plenty of options for toothpaste. But are they all created equal? Of course not. Brands offer many different formulas, each promising one benefit or another.
Some toothpastes are best for whitening, while others promise to help people with sensitive teeth. Others are milder for kids, while others promise to remove stains. It can get a little overwhelming. Ask your dentist or orthodontist what they recommend, or check out this well-researched article from The Toothsayer Blog that provides a comprehensive review of the toothpastes that work best for fighting bad breath.
Floss After Every Meal
Flossing is an important part of oral hygiene, but it’s even more crucial during clear aligner treatment. Covering your teeth with plastic retainers for 22 hours each day creates a prime environment for bacteria to accumulate on your teeth, which can lead to chronic bad breath.
And chances are, if you’re undergoing treatment, you probably have crowded or overlapping teeth where food particles love to get stuck. Brushing is not an effective means of dislodging those particles, so you must floss after every meal. Think about it: the plastic trays basically create a bio-dome over your teeth, and foreign agents like food happen to be bacteria’s favorite fertilizer. So if you don’t want halitosis-causing bacteria to flourish like spawning flora and fauna, take two minutes to floss every time after you eat.
As inconvenient as that sounds, there are some great products out there to help you. We love the eco-friendly product lineup from Knotty Floss. Their Knotty Picks are made from cornstarch, not plastic, and the floss itself has helpful ingredients like grapefruit seed extract to freshen breath, whiten teeth, and prevent gum disease.
Stay Fresh & Clean Throughout the Smile Journey
Unfortunately, when we cover our teeth with clear aligners, we hinder our own body’s self cleansing mechanism, and we dry out our mouth. But if you follow these tips, you can mitigate your bad breath and dry mouth. So give your mouth and teeth the pampering they deserve by drinking lots of water, stocking up on dry mouth mints like Movemints, keeping your trays clean, and brushing your tongue with your favorite toothpaste!