My patients tell me every day how much they love their clear aligners. It's true! They know they are on the journey to the smile they always wanted, and are surprised at just how discreet and comfortable their treatment can be.
But comfort doesn't just happen; as with all things in life, it requires planning, discipline, and sacrifice. And it doesn't hurt to know a few Invisalign tips and tricks to alleviate the aches and pains that occur when straightening your teeth with clear aligners.
These are my top five tips for Invisalign patients, and I recommend you integrate them into your daily routine the moment you start treatment. If you do, I promise you'll experience more comfort and joy throughout your smile journey.
- Protect your mouth and tongue
- Remove your trays the safe and sanitary way
- Keep your aligners clean and clear
- Do your chewing exercises!
- Prepare for the journey with essential accessories
1. Protect Your Mouth And Tongue
There's no getting around it: those cold plastic trays are going to be in your mouth 22 hours a day, and your mouth is not going to like it. During the early days of treatment, you may experience sores in your mouth and on your tongue from the plastic retainers. While your mouth will naturally toughen up as you proceed, the first few weeks of treatment can be a trying time.
Dental wax can be a lifesaver here when applied to the rough edges of your trays. Here's a tip on how to apply the dental wax: pinch off a small chunk and roll it between your fingers to soften it up. Then apply it to the problem area of your trays! For really sharp edges, you can use a nail file to smooth them out. Here's a video that demonstrates how to file rough Invisalign edges:
Tongue irritation is another unexpected nuisance for most people when they start their clear aligner treatment. Your tongue is very active during speech, causing it to rub up against those plastic edges which can lead to cuts and uncomfortable hot spots. Use a peroxide-based mouthwash like Colgate Peroxyl to clean the sores and promote healing, as well as reduce odor-causing bacteria. My patients love the effervescence of the peroxide and say it makes their mouths feel extra clean!
2. Remove Your Trays the Safe & Sanitary Way
My second Invisalign tip is more important than you might think, as improper removal can wreak havoc on your smile journey. One common mistake is pulling your trays out from only one side, which can warp the plastic and cause your trays to fit improperly. And when trays fit improperly, they can further irritate your teeth and gums while failing to move your teeth in the appropriate way.
For new patients, a common question is how to take off Invisalign easily. When removing your invisible braces, it's important to think "inside-out." While it seems simple enough to just pull them off from the outside, don't do it. The outer trays are contoured, which means they can poke right under your fingernail if you aren't careful. Or worse, your fingers will slip on the trays and you'll cut your cheek or gums. Not good!
Using your fingers is also not a best practice, especially during cold and flu season. If you want a safe, sanitary way to remove your clear aligners, we recommend OrthoKey. It's got a small, ergonomic shape that fits conveniently in your retainer case so its with you wherever you need it! In this video, Chris from OrthoKey demonstrates safe, sanitary removal of clear braces using his innovative tool.
3. Keep Clear Aligners Clean & Clear
What's the best thing about Invisalign? Many of my patients will say its because no one can see when you wear them. This is typically true, but only if you take care to clean them. Ignore this tip and you might find that your clear braces aren't so clear.
Everyone will develop their own routine when it comes to cleaning their trays. Soaking them overnight in denture cleaner is a good one, or using a homeade concoction of hydrogen peroxide and water works too. One of my favorite patients told me about her favorite technique, which was brushing the trays with her tooth brush every time she brushed her teeth. Rather than scrubbing them with brand new tooth paste (which contains abrasives that can scratch your trays, making them less invisible), she uses the paste left over at the end of her brushing to then take a pass at the aligners.
However you choose to clean them, make it a priority. I recommend EverSmille WhiteFoam, which cleans your aligners and whitens your teeth while you wear them! A pump in each tray before you reinsert is all you need, and this is an absolute must have for red wine drinkers.
4. Do Your Exercises!
Invisalign straightens your teeth by creating orthodontic tooth movement. The better your trays fit, the better your teeth will move. It's that simple.
In order to maximize orthodontic tooth movement, my fellow orthodontists and I recommend chewing exercises performed several times a day, and after you reinsert your aligners. Not only do the chewing exercises help you achieve excellent results, they also generate beneficial blood flow to the teeth and gums. This blood contains nutrients that soothe your mouth and help reduce Invisalign pain.
For the longest time, the only thing we had to offer our patients to enable these exercises was a styrofoam chewie. That didn't sit well with me. Not only did the chewies taste gross and smell awful, they made me gag! I knew there had to be a better way, so after years of labor I finally came up with the perfect solution: Movemints clear aligner mints!
The patented grooves in each mint fit conveniently between your top and bottom trays. Plus, they freshen bad breath and fight dry mouth, so you never have to feel insecure about your clear aligners.
5. Prepare for the journey with essential accessories
Your treatment journey can last anywhere from 6 months to two years, and will be with you every where you go. From brushing teeth in public restrooms to discretely flossing in odd locations, clear aligner patients are always on the lookout for the best accessories.
There are so many great products available to help you maintain a healthy, positive routine on your smile journey. It can get a little overwhelming, so we compiled our "must have" Invisalign accessories into one convenient blog post.
Here's a sneak peak for the ladies: one sure fire way to make your invisible braces not so invisible is to smear them with lipstick. Several women on my amazing staff have all straightened their teeth with Invisalign, and they tried quite a few brands before settling on one they knew they could count on to stay put.
According to them, many "non-stick" lipsticks will still get on your clear aligners, but Maybelline’s SuperStay variety will not. Give it a try if you’ve ever experienced lipstick-on-teeth. Just be sure to let it dry on your lips before you put your aligners back in!
Do you have any tips that new aligner patients should know? Tell us in the comments, we'd love to hear from you!