You found out you need braces and have decided to go with clear aligners over traditional braces. Whether you just got started on the journey or are about to get started, we’re here to help you know what to expect, how to take care of them, and how to get the smile of your dreams without any detours along the way.
Physical Appearance & Speech
Since clear aligners are clear, they’re nearly invisible and will be largely unnoticeable when talking, taking pictures, etc. However, some people may notice them when they are near you. Also, if your treatment plan includes attachments along with aligners, those will be more visible than wearing the aligners alone.
The aligners do occupy a small amount of space in your mouth which can alter your speech when speaking quickly. There is an adjustment period for most patients where they get a minor lisp, but most people can overcome this in a few hours to a few days.
Aligner Cleanings and Oral Hygiene
You should rinse your aligners with lukewarm water before inserting them into your mouth and immediately after you remove them. To help clean your trays, you should use a toothbrush that is strictly dedicated to cleaning your trays. Take the toothbrush and place a small amount of regular dish soap on it, brush the entire surface on the trays two times a day to keep them clean and fresh.
You must brush your teeth after eating and drinking anything besides water before you insert trays back in your mouth. While this seems tedious and a nuisance, in the end it helps care for your trays and leads to better dental hygiene, along with preventing any cavities or significant staining of your teeth.
Eating and Drinking
The great part of Invisalign® and other clear aligners over traditional braces is there are ZERO restrictions when it comes to eating and drinking. Yes, you read that right….ZERO!!! However, there’s a teeny catch. Unless you are drinking anything but water, you will need to remove your aligners first.
The main reason your aligners must be removed before eating or drinking is to preserve the integrity of your trays. Hot foods or drink can warp and damage your aligners and the same goes for chewing with them in your mouth. Also, removing them helps keep your teeth healthy and clean. If you were to leave your aligners in, food and fluid would get trapped in your aligners and up against your teeth and gums increasing your chances of hygiene related issues.
Wearing Your Aligners
Clear aligners are not a part-time solution. The aligners must be worn all the time outside of when you are eating, drinking, brushing and flossing. It is recommended you wear your aligners at least 22 hours a day.
Anything less than 22 hours per day, particularly less than 20 hours per day, can lead to longer treatment times, and in some cases, additional correction and aligners are required to get back on track.
Discomfort and Mouth Aches
Both clear aligners and traditional metal braces use the same basic principle to straighten teeth – constant pressure to gradually move them into the desired positions. While handled in different fashions, the result is the same, which results in the same mouth/tooth discomfort throughout treatment.
The pressure and aches you feel will usually be the worst when you put in a new aligner (or if you’ve spent significant time not wearing your aligner) since this is when your teeth are expected to move the most to fit the mold of the aligners. Like with traditional braces, after the initial adjustment pain, it will usually decrease or go away completely until the cycle begins again when you progress to the next aligner. If you find the discomfort to be especially painful at times, we recommend using some Tylenol or Ibuprofen to ease the discomfort.
Clear aligners give you a lot of freedom and flexibility you do not get with traditional braces, but like braces, require dedication to the treatment plan to make it successful. Once you get into a groove with your new aligners, you’ll be on your way to your new smile in no time.