How to Clean Invisalign Aligners the Easy Way!

Many people prefer to straighten their teeth with Invisalign because it isn't as noticeable as metal braces. But not knowing how to clean Invisalign aligners can lead to stained and cloudy plastic and a degradation of that aesthetic advantage. 

Whether you’re waiting on your first set or on the journey to your new smile, it's important to clean your aligners to prevent Invisalign stains and keep your aligners fresh and odor-free. So let's learn how to keep your Invisalign clean and clear, without damaging the plastic.

Image: Movemints Clear Aligner Mints and Smilesaver Invisalign Cleaning Spray. Text: Keep Your Aligners Fresh & Clean. Invisalign Cleaning Spray & Movemints Aligner-Friendly Mints

Why You Need to Know How to Clean Invisalign

The beauty of clear aligners, as you likely know, is that they are a transparent form of braces that get the job done without anyone knowing they’re there. That is, as long as you care for them properly. Otherwise, they can become noticeably discolored, scratched, and smelly.

Food and bacteria are the primary culprits when it comes to funky Invisalign. While you may be tempted to drink something other than water while wearing them, doing so will invite stains and discoloration. It will also cause them to retain bad smells. And nobody wants to wear gross smelling plastic, so not knowing how to clean Invisalign can knock you off your treatment path by discouraging you from meeting the recommended 22 hours of daily wear time.

Fortunately, cleaning your Invisalign is not difficult, though there is a minor risk that using improper techniques can warp or damage the aligners. So, let's discuss how to properly clean your Invisalign.

Smiling woman with a clean Invisalign tray about to reinsert her aligners

Clear aligners not only boost your confidence, but allow you to keep your confidence while working towards the smile you deserve. If you keep them clean and sanitized, they'll do all this work while being hardly noticeable to the world around you.

How to Clean Invisalign Using A Soft-Bristled Toothbrush

To straighten teeth effectively, you have to wear your clear aligners for 22 hours per day, so it's inevitable they're going to develop and grow bacteria in them. To help eliminate this odor and stain causing bacteria, use a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean your retainers at least once a day. Use gentle motions to remove debris from both the inside and the outside of your aligners with a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid scratching the trays. Stiffer bristles won't create a visible scratch, but they are abrasive enough to scuff up the plastic just enough to give more spaces for bacteria to accumulate and hideout.

One popular technique is to brush your Invisalign every time you brush your teeth, and we can't deny the convenience of this cleaning method. But keep in mind toothpastes have abrasives in them that don't harm your teeth, but do scuff up your aligners. So try this: brush your teeth as you normally would, then use the paste leftover in your (soft-bristled) brush to gently clean your Invisalign.

How to Deeply Clean Invisalign: Soak Them Daily

Gentle brushing is important, but the best way to clean Invisalign is to soak them in a cleaning solution each day. But since you're wearing them all day and all night (you can't soak them overnight like dentures, or during the day like nighttime-only retainers), you’re going to need a powerful cleanser that works fast during the two hours per day that you don't spend wearing your aligners. 

If you’re looking for the best soaking solution, we recommend these Invisalign Cleaning Crystals designed specifically for your aligners. Soak during breakfast, lunch or dinner, and then use the aforementioned toothbrush method to remove any extra plaque or food before putting them back in your mouth.

How to Clean Invisalign On The Go

Soaking every day is an important, albeit ambitious, goal. You should do it as often as possible, but for a more convenient, on-the-go Invisalign cleaning you can use a product like Smilesaver Spray™, a peroxide-free cleaner that works in just 60 seconds. A couple spritzes onto your trays will kill up to 99.9% of odor-causing bacteria, and there's no need to rinse them off before you put them back on. 

It's also a great product to use first thing in the morning, because bacteria builds up inside the trays while you sleep. This makes Smilesaver a godsend for people who need a quick cleansing right when they wake up, and it's another one of the six must-have products we included in our Invisalign accessories kit

Demonstrating how to clean Invisalign using Smilesaver cleaning spray

Establish Healthy Oral Hygiene to Keep Invisalign Clean

Practicing good oral hygiene is a great preventative measure for keeping your aligners clean. First, remove your aligners before eating and drinking anything other than water. Not only will food and beverages discolor your trays, it invites germs and bacteria to get trapped between your teeth and aligners, leading to Invisalign bad breath and dry mouth.

Next, make sure you floss regularly. Flossing is one of the healthiest things you can do for your teeth, and it is especially important to prevent Invisalign gum damage. Even when you eat without your trays, food particles get stuck between your teeth and attract odor-causing, stain-inducing bacteria that will discolor your aligners and give you bad breath.

To make flossing more fun and enjoyable, try some of these amazing coconut-oil infused varieties from COCOFLOSS. The unique, textured weave provides a maximum surface area to rid your mouth of plaque and debris hiding out between your teeth.

Tips to Keep Your Invisalign Clean

The advice above is all about how to clean Invisalign, but what about how to keep those trays clean? Follow these tips and your job will be a lot easier!

Never Eat with Your Aligners In

Every Invisalign patient is tempted by the quick snack, and sometimes the temptation to consume it without going through the hassle of removing your trays is tough to overcome. But you must be strong! Your plastic retainers are not built for chewing and could easily damage over time if you don’t remove them while you eat. Not to mention, eating with your aligners in will make them dirtier and less hygienic. 

Forget the fact that food and drinks (other than water) will stain your trays; eating while wearing your Invisalign can lead to tooth decay and cause really bad breath. So don't do it. But you can eat Movemints with your trays in, because they are 100% sugar-free and sweetened with xylitol which is beneficial for oral health. They'll help you wear your retainers with confidence while they freshen your breath and fight dry mouth!

Refrain From Using Toothpaste and Hot Water Rinsing

We touched on this above, but it bears repeating: the abrasive ingredients in toothpaste can also cause damage or even create a dull sheen to the trays, making them more noticeable in your mouth. It's okay to use the diluted toothpaste leftover after you brush, so long as it's on soft bristles. And when you rinse your aligners, never use hot water. It will warp your trays by weakening their constitution, which can have a negative impact on your progress. They're already thin plastic to begin with, so it won't take much heat to soften them up. Rinsing is good, but only with cold or lukewarm water.

Person Rinsing Invisalign Retainers under a faucet

Be Mindful About Staining Drinks

This is a tough one. Telling most adults to avoid coffee is a non-starter, so you're going to have to be strategic with your consumption. Try to get your fix during the two hours of the day when you don't need to have your trays in, and then brush your teeth afterwards.

Other drinks can stain as well, like tea, soda, alcohol and even some flavored water. This is why orthodontists do not recommend drinking anything other than water with your aligners in your mouth. But who follows every doctors order? We recognize it's hard to be perfect (not to mention, no fun), so if you are going to cheat, do it smartly. Rinse your trays and hit them with the Smile Saver Spray after a cheat, then brush your teeth before you reinsert. And try to save your cheating for later in the tray cycle, which is normally two weeks. There's a big difference between cheating on day 10 than on day 1, and you'll keep your trays clearer.

Your time with Invisalign is short lived so wear them responsibly and take good care of your trays. In just a few weeks, you could cause a lot of damage to your teeth if not cared for properly. If you’re teeth aren’t healthy, then why bother trying to straighten them? Allow your trays to work their magic and keep them in good condition!

 

For more Invisalign Tips and Tricks, check out our Movemints blog to answer every question you have about straightening your teeth with Invisalign!

 


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