Are you wondering how you can get the most out of your clear aligners for your smile – and how to wear them so you'll feel as comfortable as possible? Our Sault Ste. Marie dentists review some tips for you.
How can I get the most out of wearing clear aligners?
For patients who want to straighten or realign their teeth without wearing traditional metal braces, clear aligners can be a great orthodontic treatment option with a lot of advantages. They are removable and allow you to straighten your teeth discreetly.
If you and your dentist decide clear aligners are the best option for you, you may still have questions about how you can wear them effectively, and fit them into your busy lifestyle. Our dentists have these tips to share for an excellent clear aligner experience.
1. Keep Your Aligners Clean
Because aligners are clear and transparent, they show discolouration and food particles quite easily. That's why it's important to clean both your teeth and the trays thoroughly every day. At night, bacteria builds up on the trays while you sleep and by the end of the day, it will need another cleaning.
Rinse the aligners well each time you remove them from the mouth. We recommend using clear, anti-bacterial soap to wash them, and soaking them in either denture cleaner or the cleaning solution they arrive with.
Brush and floss your teeth thoroughly before placing the trays back in your mouth, and you're good to go.
2. Track Your Schedule for Switching Times
About every two weeks, you'll switch to a new set of clear aligners. It's important to switch to your next set in the series at the prescribed time so your teeth shift as they are supposed to and you progress through your treatment as scheduled.
You can write it in your calendar or set a reminder on your phone to keep it top of mind, and some clear aligner brands have an app designed to help you track your treatment.
3. Store Your Clear Aligners Properly
When you take your clear aligners out to eat, brush or floss, or play sports, you'll need a safe place to store them. Keep them in a safe place such as a plastic storage case you can slip in your pocket. This will protect them from getting dirty or damaged, and help keep your teeth clean when you put them back in. If they are left out, clean them thoroughly and soak them in solution before placing them back in your mouth.
4. Give Your Teeth Time to Adjust
Your teeth will move in tiny increments with every set of clear aligners. Though the adjustment is not as difficult as with braces, which have brackets and wires to contend with, your teeth may still need a period of adjustment for the first few days you wear a new set. Some soreness is normal, but once your mouth adjusts you should be back to normal. Talk with your dentist about how to make the adjustment easier, and keep dental wax around in case you need to apply it.
5. Use a Whitening Toothpaste
Did you know your aligners can help you whiten your teeth? Because they are good at holding substances right up against teeth, you can use this to your advantage to keep remnants of the whitening agent and fluoride from washing away after teeth brushing.
6. Practice Excellent Oral Hygiene
While proper oral hygiene is important for everybody, it's even more critical for patients who choose clear aligners. Since the point of clear aligners is to fit snugly against your teeth and realign them into their proper positions, you're dealing with a double-edged sword; anything on your teeth will be held t by your aligners.
W usually, some bacteria, food and plaque would be rinsed away by your saliva, that won't happen when you have your clear aligners in. To keep your teeth squeaky clean and reduce your risk of decay and cavities, you'll need to brush and floss each time you remove your aligners to eat or drink anything other than water.
7. Change to New Aligners at Night
If you find you're feeling some discomfort when you first switch sets of aligners, a good hack may be to switch them at night, so you can sleep through those first few hours. Taking an over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen before bed may also work well.
8. Wear Your Aligners for 22 Hours Each Day
A key part of treatment is making sure your aligners get enough daily wear time so your teeth move into their proper positions. You will need to wear your aligners for about 22 hours every day, and that means minimizing the time they're off your teeth for eating, drinking and socializing.
As you get used to your clear aligners being on your teeth, any insecurity you may feel will likely disappear – and other people likely won't even be able to tell you're straightening your teeth. If you do happen to speak with a slight lisp during those first few days of treatment, practice talking to give yourself and your mouth a chance to adjust to your aligners.
9. Monitor Your Diet & Eating Times
Because you'll only have two hours in total to eat each day, you may find that by necessity most snacking will have to be cut out.
If you are trying to keep weight on, you may want to speak with your doctor or nutritionist to discuss how you can safely include more calories or protein into your meals. And, try to drink extra water, which will rehydrate you and replenish any water you may have lost due to excessive salivating, which may happen with clear aligners.
10. Have Backup Aligners With You
Some clear aligner plans will come with backup aligners in case you lose your first set, but if not, hang on to your previous set of aligners to use as a backup in case your current set gets lost or damaged.
This is because it usually takes about a week for new aligners to come in, and in that time, you could lose valuable progress if you are not wearing them.
If you have been using your previous set while waiting for your replacement set to come in, you would restart the set you would have worn on your regular schedule and revise your reminders for when to switch to new aligners in the future. Though this momentary mishap may set your treatment back a week, you could experience an even greater setback if you do not have a backup or previous set around to use.
11. Change Aligners in Private
Especially during those early days as you get used to the treatment, you'll also be getting accustomed to removing and placing your aligners back in your mouth. You may want to do this in the privacy of a restroom instead of in public. Since the clear aligners will be a snug fit for your teeth, you may find it a bit challenging to remove them and put them back in properly without a mirror.
12. We're to Answer Questions
If you ever have any questions about your clear aligners, your treatment plan or how you can make wearing them easier, our Sault Ste. Marie dentists are to help and can address questions or concerns you may have. Feel free to request an appointment with us.