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How to Care for Your Clear Aligners in Seven Steps

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Clear aligners like Invisalign and Clear Correct are an innovation in dentistry. They allow people to straighten their teeth invisibly and, in some cases, in less time than with traditional orthodontics.

Even though you only wear a set of trays for a couple of weeks before moving on to the next set, you still must take care of them.

Here are some tips for keeping your clear aligners looking good:

1. Rinse your trays whenever you take them out – Clear trays should be rinsed each time they are removed. This helps keep them wet to prevent plaque and saliva from drying on the trays, which can cause them to become stained and discolored.

2. NEVER brush your aligners with toothpaste – Using toothpaste can scratch the resin of your clear aligners, causing discoloration. With a separate toothbrush, use a clear, liquid anti-bacterial soap and rinse thoroughly in lukewarm water before putting your trays back in your mouth.

3. Brush your trays whenever you brush and floss – Both in the morning and before bed, brushing your aligners (without toothpaste) when you brush your teeth helps prevent bacteria and plaque buildup. Removing any leftover food particles helps keep your aligners looking new and prevents odor-causing buildup that can make your breath smell bad.

4. Soak your aligners once a day – Using a special clear aligner soak, denture cleaner, or a mixture of one part vinegar and one part water will help kill bacteria on your trays. Soak for about 30 minutes once a day (ideally while you are eating) and be sure to rinse them well before putting them back in your mouth!

5. Brush and floss after each meal – In addition to your morning and bedtime brushing routine, you should also brush and floss each time you eat. This helps remove food particles that might otherwise get stuck between your teeth and the aligner, allowing bacteria to eat away at your tooth enamel. This also causes discoloration of your trays that will make them not-so-invisible.

6. Don’t eat or drink with your clear aligners in your mouth – Water is the only thing you should consume while you are wearing your aligners. Food and drink can get stuck between your tray and your teeth. Clear aligners aren’t made to withstand chewing forces and could crack under the pressure.

7. Plan for the unknown – Spur of the moment day trips, unexpected errands, or an impromptu lunch out with friends might be a problem for you and your aligners if you’re not prepared. Make a small kit that goes with you every day and keep it in your book bag, car, wallet, or purse. Don’t forget to include an extra case for your aligners, a spare toothbrush, travel size toothpaste, and floss. In a pinch, you can brush your trays with your toothbrush but remember to use only water.

By following these simple steps, plus any advice from your dental team, you can keep your mouth decay-free and your trays sparkling and undetectable from their first day to their last.