Everything You Need to Know About Invisalign

Invisalign, known as a clear alternative to braces, have become popular because they are not only practically invisible, but also removable. Intended to be worn as close to 24 hours a day as possible, theses aligners should only be removed to eat, drink, brush or floss. While the length of treatment varies depending on each individual case, once it is complete you’ll want to maintain that beautiful new smile. Here, Dr. John Benedetto of Wrigleyville Dental in Chicago , explains how to best take care of your teeth while under Invisalign treatment—and what to do once your treatment is through.

Keeping Invisalign Clean
When undergoing Invisalign treatment, the key is to wear it as close to 24 hours a day as possible. While brushing your teeth in the morning and evening, brush and rinse the Invisalign aligners before putting them back in your mouth. When removing the aligners for meals, you can simply rinse them off before wearing again. If you begin to notice a white buildup on the Invisalign, this indicates plaque buildup. If a good brushing does not appear to remove it entirely, take it in to your dentist to have it cleaned with an ultrasonic cleanser—otherwise, you will keep reintroducing the bacteria into your mouth. Remember to clean the aligners well each morning and evening, and any time you take them out for an extended period of time.

Eating and Drinking
Each time you pop the Invisalign aligners onto your teeth, it is critical that your teeth are clean before you put them on. Wearing the aligners traps any existing particles of food in your teeth, which will sit for hours on end without oxygen. Any time you have any kind of braces, whether traditional or a treatment such as Invisalign, you need to be extreme vigilant with oral hygiene—otherwise, while spots or other forms of long-term tooth decay may begin to form. Always remove the aligners before eating. Not only is it challenging to eat with Invisalign covering your teeth, but if the aligners are cracked, you will have to pay for a replacement, which can be both costly and detrimental to your treatment. You may be able to eat ice cream while wearing Invisalign, but the sugary liquid tends to work its way underneath the aligners and can contribute to tooth decay. These repercussions may show up years later because of the weaknesses in the teeth that were created during your treatment. Remember to brush, floss and rinse your teeth after meals, and rinse the aligners too before replacing them.

Drinking most liquids while wearing Invisalign is OK. Invisalign is not a porous plastic, so if you drink a dark beverage like grape juice, it will not stain the aligners. Keep in mind that if you drink soda or a sugary liquid, some of it may get underneath the aligners and possibly contribute to tooth decay. While drinking any carbonated beverage, it is a good idea to remove the Invisalign and rinse it off well, and then put it back in.

How Long Can I Remove Invisalign?
If you’re going out for the evening or to a special event and do not wear the Invisalign for four to six hours, keep in mind that you will lose up to 12 hours of treatment. You can really slow down the treatment by taking it out for a few hours here and there. When in the process of moving a tooth, even a seemingly miniscule distance like a quarter of a millimeter, lapses in treatment will begin to move the tooth back and forth. Eventually, if that happens too much the bone around the tooth is destroyed (much like if you bumped your car into a fence post repeatedly). Tooth movement during Invisalign is meant to go in one direction only, so the tooth will move through the bone in one direction.

How to Maintain Your Teeth After Invisalign
Invisalign can successfully treat a range of complicated issues, so the key to preserving its effects is compliance. When you first complete your Invisalign treatment, you will want to continue wearing the aligners every night while you sleep. If it feels tight each time you put it in, you will need to wear it more. If it’s loose and you do not feel a lot of pressure when you put it in, then you may be able to wear it less. Continue wearing it every night for six months to a year, and then consult with your dentist about decreasing the frequency. You may be able to wear it just a few nights a week, which you should continue to do for about three years, depending on how much tightness you feel (any time it begins to feel tight, wear it more). After the three years, you may be able to decrease how frequently you wear it, but it really depends on each individual. Factors include your age and habits such as a tongue thrust. If you have a particular habit, there is a good chance your teeth will still move afterward.

*Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.

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