There are many benefits to correcting your smile with clear aligners. Not only are they discreet and removable, but they come with fewer restrictions than traditional metal braces. If you and your orthodontist decide that clear aligner orthodontic treatment is best suited for your specific condition, you may still have some questions about how to get the most out of your treatment.
Wear your aligners for 22 hours a day
A crucial part of treatment is ensuring that your aligners get enough daily wear time. It is recommended by dental professionals to wear your aligners for approximately 22 hours every single day. No exceptions! Unlike traditional braces, you have the convenient ability to remove the trays to eat, drink, and socialize. But remember, successful treatment requires complete patient compliance. A helpful reminder: the longer the aligners are out of your mouth, the longer your treatment will take.
Always keep your aligners in a case when not in use
It’s no surprise that orthodontic treatment is an investment of not only your time but of money as well. Replacing clear aligners can be expensive. It is crucial to develop a habit of always keeping your aligner case with you. After removing the trays to eat, drink, or brush your teeth, be sure to place them in their accompanying case to keep them safe and free of bacteria. Never wrap the aligners in a napkin or paper towel, and try not to leave them on the edge of the sink. If left out in the open air, they may pick up bacteria and germs that will end up in your mouth and teeth.
Set a reminder or alarm when you’re due for a tray chang
Aligners are typically changed to the new set of trays in the series every two weeks on average, depending on your treatment plan. A helpful tip is to write down a reminder in your calendar or an alarm on your phone to notify you when it is time to make the switch. There are also different apps available that store progress photos and automatically send reminders. Be sure to change to your next set in the series at the prescribed time so your teeth shift as they are supposed to so that you can progress through your treatment as scheduled. Your treatment plan has been carefully mapped out by your orthodontist or dentist, so it’s essential to abide by their recommendations to ensure success.
Change to your new set of aligners at night
With each new set of trays in the series comes a newfound added pressure to your teeth. To avoid dealing with a full day of discomfort or pain, try switching to the new set before bed as an easy but effective tip to not only avoid being uncomfortable but to keep you on schedule. You can also take an over-the-counter pain medication to ease any pain and help you sleep.
Keep your previous set of aligners while transitioning into the next
Though it may be tempting to immediately toss your previous trays after switching to a new set, keep it on hand just in case your trays become damaged or misplaced.
Clean your aligners regularly
Clear aligners need to be clean daily. To effectively disinfect clear aligners, soak the trays in a solution designed specifically for aligners or retainers. You can also use a denture cleaner or rinse the trays thoroughly with cool water. Do not brush your aligners with a hard-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste, as toothpaste contains abrasive ingredients that could potentially cause damage or scratches.
Maintain a diligent at-home oral care routine
Maintaining a proper oral hygiene routine is critical when undergoing orthodontic treatment, especially with clear aligners. To prevent plaque buildup, bacteria growth, or infection caused by improper oral care, brush and floss your teeth after each meal and after drinking anything other than water. A helpful tip is to always carry a travel toothbrush kit with you at all times to allow you to maintain your oral care routine while on the go.
Give your teeth the appropriate time to adjust
Orthodontic treatment works by applying pressure to the teeth for them to shift. After the initial adjustment period, the pain and discomfit will subside. But you will experience slight pressure with each new set of trays in the series. The first set will look like your current teeth, but the final trays will appear much straighter. The trays in-between the first and last will move your teeth closer to the desired and final position prescribed by your dentist or orthodontist. Each tray typically differs by 0.25mm and will move the teeth the same amount of distance. You may experience the feeling of your teeth being loose — but don’t worry, it’s completely normal.
Monitor your diet and eating schedule
Have you ever heard of the term “Invisalign diet”? A common phrase among clear aligner patients, but it’s not exactly what you think. An advantage of clear aligner orthodontic treatment is that you do not have to restrict your diet. What you will have to adjust is the amount of time your aligners are out of your mouth. As previously mentioned, it’s essential to wear aligners for at least 22 hours per day. Because you will only have two hours in total to eat, you may find the need to adjust your diet (snacking) and meal schedule.
Keep in touch with your orthodontist or dentist
Orthodontic treatment is a journey with available help along the way. If you have questions regarding your treatment plan, get in touch with your dental professional. They are there to help and address any questions or concerns you may have.