I absolutely love that moment when I introduce a new patient to their first set of clear aligners. After much anticipation and preparation, they are ready to begin straightening their teeth with invisible braces. As an orthodontist and former Invisalign patient, my advice for everyone is this: be good to your mouth and establish a consistent, healthy routine that you can maintain throughout your treatment!
During your treatment, you will be wearing clear aligners for 22 hours a day, which is quite a commitment. It's also uncomfortable, and with clear braces pain is common. Here are six tips to start your smile journey on the right track and experience maximum comfort during the invisible teeth alignment process.
1) Protect Your Tongue
The plastic edges of your clear aligners may irritate you. Sores are common early in the journey, and also at the beginning of new tray cycles, but give your mouth a chance to toughen up. To accelerate this toughening, you can use dental wax to cover any rough or sharp edges of your clear retainers. A dab or two will do, and you can find dental wax at any drugstore or online at Amazon.
Even if you think your mouth can hang tough, it helps to have a bottle of peroxide-based mouthwash like Colgate Peroxyl in your medicine cabinet. It is specially formulated to heal minor oral irritations during orthodontic treatment, and provides teeth and gum pain relief with a refreshing, foamy effect that really hits the spot. Keep a bottle in your medicine cabinet, and you'll be glad you did!
2) How to Deal With Pain and Discomfort
Clear aligners work by forcing your teeth into their ideal position. To be honest, it can hurt, and many will experience pain in their teeth and jaws. For my patients, I recommend chewing and biting exercises a few times a day, and every time you reinsert your clear aligners.
They produce a nice massage effect for your gums, stimulating nutrient-rich blood flow to your mouth, which is also a natural pain reliever. And importantly, chewing exercises help your trays fit tightly for maximum tooth movement. You may have received styrofoam chewies in your clear aligner starter kit; these do aid in the chewing process and are recommended by many orthodontists. But, they get kind of dirty and are a bit awkward to use in public. So....
3) Comfortably seat your trays
It’s not always ideal or convenient to do chewing exercises during the course of your busy day. When I first started treating patients, I told them to use styrofoam “chewies” or other homegrown remedies to get a good bite, but none of these items were particularly appealing (or sanitary) for me to recommend.
I drew on my experience as a patient to create a perfect substitute, one that freshens breath and seats trays in a sanitary, low key manner. After years of perfecting its shape, I’m pleased to share Movemints, the only Mint that Fits™ your clear aligners, with patients all over the world!
I created Movemints™ to give my patients an alternative to chewie foam and encourage the biting exercises throughout the day. It doesn’t hurt that Movemints taste great and fight dry mouth, are sugar-free and sweetened with beneficial xylitol. Eat them all day and with your trays in!
4) Start a Daily Aligner Routine and Stick To It
Obviously it will be a little difficult adjusting to your new lifestyle with your invisible teeth aligners. You will be taking them out often, which is okay; this is why so many orthodontists recommend them for older teens and adults.
But the flexibility can extend your treatment if you don’t wear them for the recommended 22 hours. We are big fans of TrayMinder, a mobile app that tracks how long you’ve worn (or not worn) your aligners and reminds you when to change to a new set of trays.
Another great way to stick to a consistent clear aligner routine is to have the right accessories for your smile journey. We've got an entire blog devoted to the best accessories, but one of our favorite "must haves" is an extra retainer case or two. Keep several retainer cases on hand for your bag, backpack, office and purse and you'll never risk misplacing or losing your clear braces.
5) Remove Your Aligners The Safe, Sanitary Way
Stay safe and sanitary when you remove your trays. A tool like the OrthoKey, small enough to fit in your retainer case, has purposeful design that makes it easy to use.
Your hands may work for you, but trays get tighter as your treatment progresses, meaning you'll have to find new angles for removal. This is where the “hook” of OrthoKey really shines, and saves you from inadvertent nail gashes if or when your hands slip while trying to pry them out.
6) Keep Your Trays Clean (and Clear)
I know that my patients are going to cheat. Finishing the last two sips of a lukewarm coffee or enjoying a glass of (white) wine with your trays in isn’t the worst thing you can do. But don’t make it a habit, and be mindful of your schedule: cheating during the last few days (or hours) of a tray cycle gives less time for stains to compound.
When you notice your trays getting a little dingy and funky, use a pump or two of EverSmile WhiteFoam. You can do this before you put your trays back in (it tastes great!) or while you have them out, but keep in mind: EverSmile WhiteFoam will clean your trays and whiten your teeth while you wear your invisible braces!
For more techniques to keep your aligners fresh and clean, read Six Tips for Clean, Clear Aligners.
Create Your Routine and Stick To It!
As you embark on your smile journey, strive to establish a personal routine that you can maintain. Protect your tongue and do your chewing exercises often. Good habits are essential to relieving invisible braces pain and achieving your ideal smile.
I know you are excited, and I'm excited for you, so if you have any questions please don't hesitate to share them in the comments section. Even better, share any tips you have for others that are about to embark on their smile journey with clear aligners. We love to hear from you!