Congratulations on your brand new aligners. Today we’re going to show you some essential aligner tips and tricks to get the most out of your orthodontic treatment.
First, let’s start by taking you on a short tour of your aligners.
The biggest pieces of your orthodontic treatment are the aligners themselves, which are the specialized plastic trays that move your teeth into place. These should be worn for at least 22 hours a day, only taking them off to eat, drink, and brush your teeth. Most of the time, you will wear your aligners for one week before changing to the next set.
Attachments are the tooth-colored bumps that are bonded to your teeth in specific locations. These allow the aligners to “grab” the teeth and help your teeth gradually move into place. Some people will be prescribed orthodontic rubber bands along with their aligner trays. The placement of these bands depends on each particular case and how the teeth and jaw need to be adjusted. Orthodontists will teach you where your rubber bands should be placed and instruct you on how to wear them. It’s important to use these bands as directed for the best results.
Next, let’s talk about how you can continue to keep your teeth and Invisalign trays clean and strong during your treatment.
As always, remember to keep your teeth clean by brushing twice a day, for no less than two minutes each time, and floss every day. But don’t just brush your teeth – your aligners need some love and care, too. Keep your aligners clean by brushing them gently. Use water or the leftover toothpaste on your toothbrush to keep them clear and clean. Toothpaste can sometimes make the aligners look a little cloudy, so be sure to clean them thoroughly for the best results.
It is very important for the health of your teeth that you do not trap sugary and acidic foods and beverages between your teeth and the aligner trays. We recommend only drinking water when your aligners are in. For eating and drinking anything other than water. First remove your aligners and make sure your teeth are clean before putting them back in. Think about how something like an Oreo cookie can get stuck in your teeth. You wouldn’t want that pushed up against your teeth and aligners all day, would you?
As a removable orthodontic appliance, it’s incredibly important to protect your aligners whether they’re on or off. When you’re not wearing your aligners store them in a protective case. The most common way patients lose their aligners is to wrap them in a napkin while eating and then accidentally throw them away. Though aligners are made of medical-quality plastic, they can still melt in high temperatures, so do not subject them to incredibly high heat like the microwave, dishwasher, or really hot beverages.
Now that you know more about your aligners and how to take care of them, let’s discuss what you can expect from your treatment.
For the best results, you should wear your aligners for at least 22 hours a day, only taking them off for meals or brushing your teeth. This means you may miss sipping on coffee or frequent snacking. This may take some getting used to, but the results are worth it. Just think of it as an opportunity for a healthier you.
Some soreness is normal when you first start wearing a new aligner tray. Some patients experience this and others don’t, but consider taking an over-the-counter pain reliever before changing to a new tray to alleviate any potential discomfort. For the first few days after starting your aligner treatment, you may notice a slight lisp or change in speech. Most people will not notice this at all, but it helps to read or sing out loud to shorten this adjustment time.
Also, the better your aligners fit to your teeth, the less likely you are to have a lisp. Just another reason to wear your aligners at least 22 hours a day. As in any orthodontic treatment, your aligners are slowly but surely moving your teeth into their proper positions. Because of this, you can expect to feel a slight sensation of your teeth being loose. This is nothing to worry about. After you finish your first full set of aligners, it is unlikely that your teeth will be perfect.
Often, Orthodontists will prescribe a refinement treatment with another set of trays to add some finishing touches. Most patients will go through two refinements, or three sets of trays total, before finishing their treatment. If you feel any sharp edges on your aligners that feel uncomfortable or pokey use an emery board to smooth out the rough spots.
Finally, here are some helpful tips on how you can get the best possible results in your aligner treatment.
Have we mentioned that 22 hours a day of wear is ideal? We say it because it’s true! Your aligners will only be working when you are wearing them, so why wouldn’t you want to wear them as much as possible? To help the aligners settle firmly on your teeth use chewies, which are like tiny pool noodles that when you bite into them help to really seat the aligners against your teeth. For the best results, we recommend using chewies for 10 to 15 minutes a day focusing on only your four front teeth.
There you have it, a simple guide to your aligner treatment. Proper orthodontic treatment is a partnership and Orthodontists are here to cheer for you along the way. Now it’s up to you to wear, use, and protect your aligners as prescribed to get amazing results. With a little time, we’re sure you’ll become a pro.
Congratulations again on your new aligner treatment, and as always we can’t wait to see you at your next visit.