As a former Invisalign patient and practicing Orthodontist, I’m somewhat of an authority on bad breath and dry mouth. It's one of the primary concerns my patients have when they embark on their clear aligner treatment. I hate to tell them, but halitosis and Invisalign dry mouth are not things they can "cure." The causes are organic, and just a fact of life for people who will be wearing plastic trays for 22 hours a day.
But just because you can't cure the causes doesn't mean you can't treat the symptoms. So here are my five best tips for eliminating Invisalign bad breath and dry mouth during treatment.
- Drink plenty of water
- Keep your trays clean
- Brush your tongue
- Upgrade your toothpaste
- Floss after every meal
Drench Your Mouth In Water
The number one way to treat Invisalign dry mouth is to maintain a healthy saliva flow. Saliva is our mouth's natural cleansing agent, making it 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 H2O. 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. Best of all, they contain a therapeutic dose of xylitol, a naturally occurring substance recommended by dentists and orthodontists all over the world to treat dry mouth symptoms.
Keep Your Clear Aligners Clean and Clear
My second tip is to care for your clear aligner trays. Try not to eat or drink anything other than water (and Movemints) when you are wearing them, but if you do cheat once in a while, rinse your mouth and your trays as soon as possible. You don't want small particles of food or sugar from your beverage stuck in in the biodome that is created by your clear aligner.
Even better is to brush your teeth every time you reinsert your trays. This, of course, is easier said than done and not always an option during our busy lives. If you can't brush, 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; 60 seconds is all it needs to eliminate bad-breath-causing bacteria from your plastic retainers.
Soluria SmileSaver is one of the "must have" accessories in our Invisalign Starter Kit!
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 can be found on your tongue. That's why giving it some attention every time you brush your teeth is one of the best tips for fighting bad breath.
Your tongue basically a sponge, with four different types of papillae that create ideal spaces for bacteria to camp out and multiply. And when bacteria multiply (even the good kind), they give off a foul odor that's hard to mask. The back of your tongue is where most of this bacterial congress will occur, so stifle that gag reflex and give it some attention with your toothbrush.
Beyond treating bad breath, brushing your tongue has other benefits like more vibrancy in your taste buds and the prevention of other nasties like 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 some promise to help people with sensitive teeth. Certain brands make formulas that 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 can easily get stuck. Brushing is not an effective means of dislodging those particles, so you must floss after every meal. Like we mentioned earlier, your plastic trays create a bio-dome over your teeth, and food particles are ideal fertilizer for bacterial growth. 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.
Knotty Floss makes amazing biodegradable floss picks that make flossing on the go a breeze! Pictured here with the Knotty Floss whitening pen, both items that we include in our favorite Invisalign starter kit.
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
Even though you'll never cure bad breath, as you can see there are plenty of tactics for eliminating the symptoms. Follow these tips by drinking plenty of water and maintaining great oral hygiene and you'll seriously reduce bad breath and dry mouth during Invisalign treatment. Got any tips that we didn't share in this post? We'd love to hear from you in the comments!