If you’re thinking about getting Invisalign to correct your misaligned teeth, it’s good to know what you are signing up for. If you’ve already made the decision, congratulations! You’re going to love your new smile, but it will probably take you a few weeks to get used to wearing Invisalign. It does require some committed changes to your routines, but most patients agree that it’s entirely worth it.
How Does Invisalign Change Your Life?
Obviously, having a beautiful smile that you will want to share with the world will change your life in positive ways. However, that change won’t come until you are several months into your Invisalign treatment. The immediate changes that Invisalign brings will alter your eating and sleeping routines.
- You cannot eat food or drink beverages other than water while wearing Invisalign.
- You will need to brush and floss your teeth after food/drinks, before you replace your aligners.
- You must wear the aligners 20-22 hours per day. This means…
- You’ll sleep in your aligners.
These changes are different for everybody. If your standard drink during the day is water, and you already avoid snacking between meals, wearing Invisalign may not mean much of a change to your routines. You’ll just need some extra oral hygiene time after your meals. However, if you are used to sipping coffee throughout the morning, you may find it hard to finish your latte quickly so you can brush your teeth and put the aligners back in.
Why are the rules about eating and drinking while wearing Invisalign so strict? There are two reasons: protecting the aligners and protecting your teeth. Drinking hot drinks can warp and age your aligners and chewing food can cause them to crack. This can render them ineffective at shifting your teeth and upset your treatment plan. The second, more important reason is that Invisalign prevents your teeth from coming into contact with your saliva. After you eat and drink, your mouth creates saliva to rinse away food particles and neutralize the acids excreted by mouth bacteria when they feed. If your teeth come into contact with foods and drinks—even just a small amount—they need saliva to protect them.
Let’s say you drink coffee while wearing Invisalign, for example. If even a tiny bit of coffee gets in between your teeth and your aligner, it will sit against the teeth for hours without the benefit of saliva to rinse it off. This can lead to instant staining of the teeth. If your coffee has cream and sugar, it can initiate the process of demineralization and you may have a new cavity very soon.
Oral Hygiene with Invisalign
Oral hygiene with Invisalign is pretty close to what you already do. You’ll just be doing it more frequently. Instead of just a morning and evening brushing, and flossing once per day, you’ll now also brush and floss your teeth after every meal.
You’ll also need to add a few minutes to your nightly hygiene routine to clean your aligners each day. Invisalign should not be cleaned with a toothbrush and toothpaste, as these can be too abrasive and may wear away at the acrylic. Instead, wash your aligners with a gentle, clear hand soap every night. A diluted solution of clear dish soap can also be effective.
Practical Tips for Starting Invisalign
Many people have had success with Invisalign, and their top tips for new patients include the following:
Buy a Go-To Invisalign Bag – Many patients feel it helps them to have a small oral hygiene bag they can take with them in their purse, backpack, or gym bag. You can keep your travel toothpaste, toothbrush, and floss in the bag, as well as a case to hold your aligners when you eat and clean your teeth.
Keep an Aligner Case on You – There’s nothing worse than digging through the trash looking for an aligner you accidentally threw out with your lunch. Putting your aligners in a brightly colored case, rather than on a napkin, for example, will help you avoid this common disaster.
Stick to Designated Meal Times – Even the most devoted of grazers and snackers confess that their Invisalign treatment is far easier when they aren’t taking their aligners out several times between meals.
Wear Your Aligners All the Time at First – Part of Invisalign’s convenient appeal is the fact that you can take them out for special occasions. However, many former patients suggest the fastest way to get used to wearing your aligners is to keep them in all the time at first (other than meal times, of course). This helps you get used to the aligners faster and makes it easy to make sure you get your full 20-22 hours of wear time every day.
Time Your Off-Time, Not Your On-Time – We say you must wear your aligners 20-22 hours per day, but a better way to look at it is that you can take your aligners out for 2-4 hours per day. You don’t necessarily have to use an actual timer, but keep a running log in your head each day. Note how long you have the aligners out at meal times. If you don’t keep an eye on this, especially in the first few months, you may find that your treatment plan does not go as quickly as estimated.
Contact Woodlands Orthodontics to Learn More
Invisalign does require some changes to your daily habits, but the benefits are going to change your life in ways you can’t even imagine! If you’d like to learn more about Invisalign, call our office to set up an appointment with Dr. Brad Leiker. He will examine your teeth and determine whether you are a good candidate for this treatment. Call us at 281-298-9434 or use our convenient online form to schedule an appointment.