Invisalign treatment is convenient, comfortable and virtually invisible. In fact, one of the biggest benefits of clear aligners is they have minimal impact on your day-to-day life. However, there are still steps you’ll have to take to ensure you make the most of your treatment and keep your smile healthy throughout. The team here at Houston Orthodontic Specialists is covering what you need to know in order to breeze through your smile journey in our Invisalign survival guide.
What is Invisalign and How Does It Work?
Invisalign involves a series of clear, BPA-free, plastic aligners that are custom designed to fit snugly over your teeth. The aligners are comfortable and removable, which makes them extremely convenient. We kick off the process by taking digital impressions with our iTero scanner. A computerized 3D model of your mouth is created and one of our Bellaire or Houston Invisalign providers plans out your treatment directly on the model. The aligners are crafted based on the doctor’s prescription. Each set of aligners is programmed to achieve certain tooth movements. As you make your way through the series, your new smile takes shape little by little.
Wearing Your Invisalign
Invisalign can only do its job if you wear the aligners as prescribed. We recommend wearing Invisalign aligners for about 22 hours per day for the best results. You can download the My Invisalign app from Align Technology to keep track of how many hours per day you’ve worn your aligners and get alerts when it’s time to change to a new set. Invisalign Teen has blue compliance indicators that will let you know if your teenager has been wearing their aligners for the ideal amount of time.
Keeping Your Invisalign Safe
One of the best Invisalign tips and tricks is to use your Invisalign case. Whenever you’re not wearing your aligners, make sure to store them in their case. Placing them in a napkin while you’re eating or leaving them in your dog’s path while you brush your teeth are surefire ways for them to be misplaced or damaged. If you lose your aligners, you may have to have a duplicate set created for you.
If you’re not good with keeping tabs on things, create a routine. Try brushing and eating around the same time each day and using your Invisalign case when you do so that it becomes a habit. If you have trouble remembering where you put the case or you leave it places like school or work, you can also try storing the case in something larger like a toiletry or cosmetics bag so that it’s even harder to lose.
Aside from not losing your aligners and keeping them away from pets, you’ll also want to avoid exposing them to extreme heat. If you leave your aligners in your car on a hot day or rinse them in really hot water, they can warp, which will affect the fit.
Getting the Perfect Fit
It’s important to do your daily chewing exercises to get the aligners to slip over your teeth and attachments and fit like a glove. The better they fit against your teeth, which we refer to as aligner seating, the better the results will be.
Invisalign Comfort Care
Does Invisalign hurt? No, it does not. In fact, since there aren’t any brackets and wires, it’s very comfortable. However, when you first start treatment or sometimes when you put in a new set of aligners, your teeth can be a little sensitive. If that’s the case, sticking with soft foods and cold drinks until the tenderness subsides (similar to how you would with braces) is another of our favorite Invisalign tips and tricks. Things like smoothies, ice water, milkshakes, mashed potatoes and soup are easy on sensitive teeth. You can also take an over-the-counter pain reliever like Tylenol if necessary, though most patients don’t need to. Discomfort will go away in a day or two and it really just means your Invisalign is working.
Drinking and Eating With Invisalign
If you’re wondering what foods to eat with Invisalign, we’re happy to report, you can eat whatever you’d like during your treatment. You’ll take your aligners out to eat and drink anything aside from plain water, so there are no food restrictions. Since you need to wear your aligners for about 22 hours per day and, as we’ll get to shortly, you’ll have to brush your teeth after eating, you may find you snack a lot less. If you know you’re dining out at night or have plans for a long, leisurely dinner, keep the recommended wear time in mind and adjust your other meals accordingly.
Invisalign and Speech
Some of our Bellaire and Houston Invisalign patients have no issues with their speech when wearing Invisalign. Others do notice a slight lisp when they first start treatment. If that’s the case, the lisp will go away and your speech will return to normal once you get used to wearing your aligners. The best thing you can do to speed up the process is keep talking. Read aloud to yourself, talk on the phone with friends and sing along to your favorite songs in your car. This will help you get acclimated to wearing Invisalign more quickly.
How to Clean Invisalign Trays
We’re often asked how to clean Invisalign. Well, you can purchase the Invisalign cleaning crystals. However, the best Invisalign cleaner is simply water and your toothbrush! After taking your aligners out, brush them gently with your toothbrush and rinse them with lukewarm water (never hot as it can damage your aligners) before popping them back in. This should get rid of any plaque and buildup to keep them nice and clear. We don’t recommend using toothpaste since some types are abrasive, which can scratch and dull the surface of the aligners. If, for some reason, your aligners need a deeper clean, you can occasionally clean them with a mild, clear dish soap and lukewarm water.
Invisalign and Oral Hygiene
Even more important than how to clean Invisalign trays is how to keep your teeth clean when you’re wearing Invisalign. Even though Invisalign doesn’t involve brackets and wires, you will have to step up your oral hygiene routine. If you have sugar or starches on your teeth and then you put in your aligners, you’re trapping the food debris against your teeth, which can increase your risk of cavities. Additionally, when your aligners are in, since they’re tight against your pearly whites, your saliva isn’t able to rinse away plaque and food like it typically can. So, whenever you eat or drink anything, be sure to brush your teeth afterwards. Packing a travel toothbrush when you’re at school or at work is a great idea. If you forget it, at the very least, rinse your mouth out really well before putting your aligners back in.
Now that you have plenty of Invisalign tips and tricks from our Invisalign survival guide, if you’re ready to start treatment, book a complimentary consultation with a Houston or Bellaire orthodontist today! Learn more on our blog.