Invisalign clear dental aligners give you the chance to straighten your teeth and achieve your perfect smile without the metal-mouth look of traditional braces. You can pop them in and out, which means you can enjoy all of your favorite foods, and you only have to visit your orthodontist every few weeks for a new set of aligners. Wearing Invisalign braces is pretty simple, but if you want to get ideal results in the shortest time possible, there are a few bad little habits you'll want to avoid.
Forgetting to put Invisalign back in after eating.
Invisalign should be worn for 20 - 22 hours per day for maximum effectiveness. While this allows you time to take the trays out when eating, the time will add up pretty quickly if you're not prompt about putting the aligners back in when you're done. If you find that you're forgetting to pop your aligners back in after meals, try setting an alarm to remind you to do so. Whenever you sit down to eat, set a timer for 20 minutes in the future. This gives you enough time to eat. When the timer rings, you can put your aligners in. Three 20-minute eating periods adds up to 1 hour per day with your aligners out. This leaves you a whole other hour per day during which you can remove your aligners for tooth brushing and snacks. (Set reminder alarms for after these activities, too, if needed.)
Not cleaning your aligners.
One of the beauties of Invisalign is that it's nearly impossible to see on your teeth. However, that is only the case when you keep your aligners clean. If you forget to clean them or do not do a thorough job, the aligners will develop a yellowed appearance, and they will look a lot more obvious. Plus, dirty aligners can hold onto oral bacteria, increasing your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
You can clean your aligners by simply brushing them with toothpaste and a soft toothbrush, and then rinsing them with water twice a day. Invisalign also makes a special automatic cleaning system, which you may wish to ask your dentist about if you don't like having to manually brush the aligner trays.
Smoking with your aligners in your mouth.
Smoking can also discolor your aligners. If you must smoke, remove the aligners to do so. Note, however, that if this interferes with your Invisalign wear time and you end up wearing the aligners for less than the recommended 20 - 22 hours per day, you may end up having to wear Invisalign for a few extra months. Really the best solution, though, is to stop smoking all together. Try using nicotine patches to curb your cravings, or attend support groups for ex-smokers. Knowing that quitting is necessary in order to achieve your perfect smile might be all the motivation you need to finally kick the smoking habit.
Taking the aligners out when your teeth feel sore.
During your first few days with a new set of aligner trays, your teeth will feel sore. This is because when the tray is new, it is exerting the most pressure on your teeth. After a few days, they will have shifted a little, so the pressure and pain will be less extreme. A lot of patients fall into the bad habit of removing the trays for a few minutes or an hour when their mouth starts to feel sore from new aligners. All this does is delay your teeth adapting to the new aligner. If your mouth feels sore, leave the aligners in place, and use an over-the-counter pain reliever or an ice pack to soothe the soreness.
If you have any questions about what behaviors are and are not okay when wearing Invisalign, be sure to speak with your dentist or orthodontist.