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 the journey to their new smile. As an orthodontist and former patient, my Invisalign tips and tricks are based on one simple philosophy: be good to your mouth and establish a consistent, healthy routine you can maintain throughout treatment.
You will be wearing clear aligners for 22 hours a day, which is quite a commitment. It's also uncomfortable, and pain is common. Here are six Invisalign tips to start your smile journey on the right track and experience maximum comfort during the "invisible" teeth alignment process.
- Protect your tongue
- Treat your pain and discomfort
- Use Movemints when you reinsert your trays
- Keep track of your daily wear time
- Remove your aligners the safe, sanitary way
- Keep your trays clean (and clear)
Invisalign Tip #1: Protect Your Tongue
The plastic edges of your clear aligners mean that sores are common early in the journey and at the beginning of new tray cycles, but your mouth will toughen up. To accelerate this toughening, I recommend wax for Invisalign to cover sharp edges and rough spots. Try this technique: take a small pinch of wax, roll it into a shape between your fingers, then apply it to the hot spots. If you have a particularly rough of jagged section on your retainers that wax can't cover, you may need to ask your Orthodontist to file them down for you.
Another good idea is to have a bottle of peroxide-based mouthwash 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!
Invisalign Tip #2: Treat your pain and discomfort
To be honest, Invisalign hurts, and many will experience pain in their teeth and jaws. Clear aligners work by forcing your teeth into their ideal position, so I recommend that my patients practice chewing exercises a few times a day, and every time they reinsert their trays. Not only do these exercises help your teeth "track "in accordance with your treatment plan, they can provide Invisalign pain relief.
The simple act of chewing produces a nice massage effect for your gums, stimulating nutrient-rich blood flow to your mouth. That blood flow acts as a natural pain reliever, and more importantly, chewing exercises help your trays fit tightly for maximum tooth movement.
You may have received styrofoam chewies from your Orthodontist, and they do aid in the chewing process and I still give them to my patients for home use. But, they can get very dirty if they aren't cleaned regularly and are a bit awkward to use in public. So....
Invisalign Tip #3: Use Movements When You're On The Go!
It’s not always ideal or convenient to do chewing exercises during the course of your busy day. When I first started treating patients, all I had to give them were the aforementioned chewies or other homegrown solutions like suction tips or ball point pens. However, none of these items were particularly appealing (or sanitary) for me to recommend, and that just didn't sit well with me.
I drew on my experience as a patient to create a perfect alternative, 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 gentle chewing 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!
Invisalign Tip #4: Keep Track of Your Daily Wear Time
Obviously it will be a little difficult adjusting to your new lifestyle with your invisible braces. 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.
Fortunately, there are several tools available to help you keep track of your daily wear time. We are big fans of TrayMinder, a free 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 Invisalign 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 on hand for your bag, backpack, office and purse and you'll never risk misplacing or losing your clear braces.
And you can combine the best of both worlds (if you're willing to pay for it) with nCase, an innovative "smart" retainer case that tracks your wear time with an integrated smartphone app. It will alert you when you have your trays out for too long so you know exactly how to manage your breaks.
Invisalign Tip #5: Remove Your Clear Aligners Safely
Stay safe and sanitary when you remove your invisible braces with our favorite aligner removal tool, the OrthoKey. Small enough to fit in your retainer case so you always have it handy, the purposeful design also makes it easy to use.
While you can certainly fish your trays out with your fingers, they do get tighter as your treatment progresses. This means you might struggle to get your aligners out early in a tray cycle, which is where the “hook” of OrthoKey really helps. It pops aligners out in a breeze and saves you from inadvertent nail gashes if your hands slip while trying to pry them out.
You can get two of these great Invisalign accessories in our Ultimate Clear Aligner Starter Kit which includes six "must-have" items to help you through your treatment. Along with Movemints and OrthoKey, you'll get an extra retainer case, a whitening pen, Smile Saver Spray for cleaning your trays on the go, and bio-degradable floss picks for keeping up with your oral hygiene.
Invisalign Tip #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 an Invisalign 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 Smile Saver Spray from Soluria, a great tasting and fast acting cleanser that you don't have to rinse off your aligners, so it's perfect on the go. Just a pump or two in each tray will eliminate the germs and bacteria that cause bad breath. For more techniques to keep your aligners fresh and clean, read Six Tips for Clean, Clear Aligners.
Parting Advice: Create Your Routine and Stick To It!
As you embark on your smile journey, strive to establish a personal routine that includes good hygiene and habits that you can maintain. Incorporating these Invisalign tips into your lifestyle will help you enjoy a more comfortable, confident journey to 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 your own Invisalign tips and tricks with others that are about to embark on their smile journey with clear aligners. We love to hear from you!