Invisalign braces are an orthodontic treatment that’s worked very well for many of our patients, but one question we get asked a lot is “What are the best methods for cleaning Invisalign trays?” We give you all the information you need to maintain these clear braces, and we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy cleaning them can be.
Why Should You Bother Cleaning Clear Braces?
You may have noticed that Invisalign braces look kind of like a retainer or mouth guard—they’re made of clear plastic material and fit over your teeth—but the first thing to remember about Invisalign is that they are braces. That means that, unlike a retainer or mouth guard, they will be sitting on your teeth for a minimum of 20 hours a day. This amount of time is necessary to ensure your teeth remain in their new, straight positions.
All that contact with your teeth means that there’s also a lot of time for bacteria to build up between the tooth surface and the inside of these braces. When this bacteria isn’t cleared away on a regular basis, it will build up. This not only threatens your oral health but also causes your aligners to become cloudy with built-up bacteria, which results in pretty bad breath.
When invisible braces are properly cleaned, they not only look completely clear, but they’ll also smell fresh because they’ll be bacteria-free. Okay, so how do you go about cleaning your clear braces, and how often should they be cleaned? Here’s what needs to happen every day.
Every Morning And Night
Your Invisalign braces need to be removed and completely cleaned every morning when you wake up and before you go to bed at night. This ensures all the saliva and bacteria that built up overnight and during the day can be cleared away. Take your braces out, and then give your teeth a thorough brushing. Next, you’ll want to clean your braces before you put them back in. Read on for the proper cleaning technique.
Get Into The Habit Of Regular Rinsing
This cleaning step is incredibly important: Any time you remove your Invisalign trays, you should always rinse them in cold water. This will be like rinsing your mouth with mouthwash; it will freshen up your aligners and keep them looking clear, and it will clear out dried saliva and any bacteria that may be lurking.
Although you may think that using hot water is a good idea, you should never use hot water with Invisalign. That’s because your trays are made of plastic. Excessive heat will cause them to warp. Only use cold water for rinsing.
And Brushing And Flossing Too
Another great habit to form that will keep your aligners clean is to always make sure you brush and floss after you’ve removed your trays and eaten a meal. Once you get into this habit, you’ll find it only takes a few minutes to brush and floss. Of course, you can skip this step, but if you do, keep in mind that the chances of food particles getting trapped in your aligners and causing bacteria to build up are much higher
Soaking Is Important
In addition to ensuring your aligners and teeth are thoroughly cleaned each morning and night, you’ll also want to set aside some time to soak them.
You can use the Invisalign cleaning crystals, but if you don’t have these, there are plenty of other ways to soak them. However, once again, you should never, ever use hot or boiling water! You also should never use harsh cleaners like bleach.
Instead, try a bit of vinegar and water. Vinegar is a great, all-natural cleaner that can be used everywhere in your home, including for your Invisalign trays. For the highest effectiveness, you’ll want to mix half vinegar with half warm—not hot!—water. It’s best to do this while you’re eating, as it will allow time for all that saliva and any germs to lift from the surface of your trays, making it easier to clean them later.
Hydrogen peroxide is also a great natural way to clean your Invisalign braces; chemically speaking, there’s only one molecule of difference between hydrogen peroxide and water, yet this substance will eat away at bacteria and debris, bubbling them right off of your braces. A mixture of half water and half hydrogen peroxide will do the trick, and you should soak your braces for 30 minutes.
How To Brush Your Invisalign Trays Properly
In the morning and at night, you should brush your trays thoroughly with a soft-bristled toothbrush. The key word when brushing is “gentle.” Instead of using toothpaste, mouthwash, or hand soaps with color and scent, your braces should only be cleaned with any one of the following:
- Gentle and unscented liquid soap after soaking for 20-30 minutes
- 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water after soaking up to 20 minutes
- Equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water after soaking up to 30 minutes
- 1 tablespoon of baking soda to ½ cup of water after soaking for 60 minutes
Brushing gently in circles where you can, ensure that you reach as many areas of your braces as possible. Then, give them a good rinse in cool water before inspecting them for any missed spots. If you’re not sure whether they’re clean, you can also bring them into your Invisalign orthodontist, who will be more than happy to inspect them and let you know how you did.
Other Cleaning Products And General Tips
In addition to cleaning crystals, soap, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda, your braces can also get a good cleaning when you use denture or Invisalign retainer cleaner. Either of these will be in tablet or powder form and will help power through all that stuff that loves to get trapped on the surface of braces.
You should always keep your aligners in their case when you’re not wearing them; exposing them to the air can lead to bacteria build-up just as easily as when your braces are inside your mouth.
In addition to cleaning your teeth and braces, you’re also going to want to make sure that you clean your case on a regular basis. For this part, hot water can be used, as long as you give the case a couple of minutes to cool before putting your trays in it.
You’ll never want to eat or drink before taking your aligners out. If you do, you’ll have to deal with a lot more gross buildup and smelly breath. Unless you’re drinking cool water, it’s best to remove your aligners. This is especially true if you’re drinking hot beverages; as we said earlier, hot temperatures are no good for Invisalign braces, as it can soften the plastic material and cause it to warp, making it necessary for you to revisit the orthodontist to have your braces re-shaped, or worse, replaced.
By learning some new habits and making sure your braces are cleaned and maintained properly, you can know that your Invisalign treatment will go exactly as planned without any delays and that you can show off your radiant new smile when the time comes.
Experienced, Professional, And Friendly
Whether you already have Invisalign or want to know more about them, the skilled orthodontists at Labbe Family Orthodontics can help. With 40 years of experience, our orthodontists use the latest equipment and treatment technologies for the benefit of our patients.
Labbe has four locations in the Maryland area and whether you visit our office in Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton-Gambrills, or Greenbelt, you’ll find a warm and friendly staff that always treats you like family and an environment that’s always fun and positive. Want to learn more? You can schedule your consultation now. Just call (410) 267-7300, and you’ll discover that life is better with a smile.