We know that life with braces isn’t always easy, especially when it comes to food. If you’re a candidate for clear aligner orthodontic treatment, congratulations on not having to restrict your diet!
Unlike traditional metal braces, clear aligners allow you to enjoy all of your favourite foods and drinks without major restrictions. But even with this added benefit, it’s still important to take proper care of your clear aligners and follow the treatment plan set out by your orthodontist to ensure that you receive the best results from your treatment.
To achieve desired results, clear aligners must be worn for at least 22 hours a day. Though you may be tempted to continuously remove your trays to eat throughout the day, the treatment requires you to wear the aligners as much as possible. Keeping track of the total time you remove the aligners every day is necessary to make sure that you’re getting the recommended daily wearing time in.
Alongside tracking wear time, there are tips to follow when it comes to eating and drinking.
Always remove your clear aligners before eating or drinking anything but water
This may seem like an inconvenience but orthodontic treatment requires patient compliance to achieve optimal results. But think of this as an advantage – your braces are removable! Those with traditional metal braces struggle daily with eliminating foods, and are constantly dealing with food particles getting stuck in the wires and brackets. Eating or drinking anything but cold water with your aligners can result in plaque build-up and future tooth decay. Not to mention, you could potentially damage, crack, or stain your aligners.
Try to limit your sugar intake
Did you know that sugary foods and drinks cause an acid attack on your teeth for up to an hour after you eat, eventually leading to tooth decay? If sugar or food is left sitting in your aligners, it may cause future cavities. To reduce decay and the potential risk of staining your pearly whites, it’s best to avoid, or try to limit, sugary snacks. If you can’t seem to kick your sweet tooth, brush immediately after eating and rinse your mouth with an alcohol-free fluoride mouthwash to neutralize the plaque acids.
Brush your teeth before inserting your aligners after eating
After eating or drinking anything other than water, it’s recommended to brush your teeth before putting your aligners back in. This will remove any food or bacteria from your mouth. Clear aligners are custom-made to hug your teeth, so you don’t want any food or bacteria to linger. A helpful tip is to carry a travel toothbrush kit with you at all times that includes your aligner case, toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss. In a situation where you can’t brush your teeth after eating, simply rinse your mouth and aligners with cool water. Keeping your teeth and aligners clean will prevent cavities from developing and will keep your clear aligners in perfect condition.
Create an eating schedule
Since clear aligners are required to be worn for the majority of the day and night, a helpful tip is to plan your mealtimes. This will ensure that you’re still getting enough nutrition throughout the day, but also that your treatment doesn’t become compromised. As previously mentioned, it’s recommended to wear your aligners for at least 22 hours a day. Since you have to remove your aligners each time you eat, this may help limit your snacking habits and provide encouragement to be more mindful about the foods you’re consuming.
With the ability to remove your aligners, you have the freedom to continue enjoying all of the foods and drinks you love. But it’s important to remember that you still need to be dedicated and compliant when it comes to your treatment plan. Feel free to indulge but be sure to follow these tips to ensure that your treatment and progress is successful.