Oral Health

Tips Every Patient Should Know About Invisalign Braces

A person’s smile is one of the first things that is noticed about them. This is why so many of us will spend so much time and money on our teeth. Lately, the newest trend is Invisalign. This cool invention gives adults the chance to straighten out their teeth without the embarrassment of wearing braces! The whole point of Invisalign is that they are clear and essentially invisible to anyone else which is amazing because let’s face it, most adults would rather stick with the flaws in their smile than stand up in front of their peers at work with a mouth full of hardware. It’s uncomfortable enough in middle school and high school, let alone as an adult! These new clear, plastic molds are the answer we’ve all been waiting for, and if the procedure is followed properly, it actually works!

If you’ve been thinking about getting Invisalign and want to know more about it or will be starting the process soon, we’ve got some important tips that every patient should know about Invisalign braces…

1. Your Orthodontist Will Know When You’re Not Wearing It

We’ve all done it before. We go to the dentist and they ask how often we floss. We respond with a little white lie about how deligent we’ve been since they last saw us. Whoops. While we might think we’re fooling them, we’re not. This also goes for people who are visiting their orthodontist for Invisalign. The success of the process revolves around the patient wearing their Invisalign, so if you’re not wearing it, they’ll know. There’s no point in lying about it! Not only will your teeth not be ready for their next set, there’s a cool feature on the Invisalign that actually shows orthodontists weather or not it’s been worn.

“We know if you haven’t been wearing your Invisalign because of a cool feature [on the aligners] (not just because of your answer to our question or the way your teeth look),” says Dr. Matthew LoPresti, DDS, a cosmetic dentist in Stamford, CT to Reader’s Digest. “There are little blue marks towards the back of your aligners that should wear away as you wear the Invisalign. If the blue mark looks untouched, we know you haven’t been wearing the aligners.”

2. They Also Know When You Eat With Them In

Just as they’ll know when you’re not wearing your Invisalign, the orthodontist will also know when you’re eating with them on. For those that don’t know, you’re not allowed to eat or drink with your aligners in. The only exception to this is cold water. “When patients eat or drink liquids (other than water) come in to see me, their Invisalign trays are often slimy, dirty, and stained,” says Dr. Timothy Chase, co-found of SmilesNY to Reader’s Digest. “Not only does this result in a cosmetically undesirable appearance to the aligners but it also damages them and can lead to decay.”

3. You Might Have More Attachments Than Expecting

The Invisalign retainer is able to stay on your teeth due to attachments that stick to your teeth like brace brackets, explains Health.com. These attachments might also look like enamel-colored ridges. Don’t worry, they are mostly out of sight from other people, particularly if you aren’t wearing your aligners. However, the source warns that you’ll likely have more attachments than you were expecting. “These attachments click into the Invisalign aligners to help the teeth move more effectively,” writes Health.com. “Without the aligners in, the attachment bumps are virtually invisible. But with the aligners in, it looks like you have clear braces.” The author shared her own experience which was that her orthodontist told her she’d have two attachments, but she ended up with 20! While these is obviously a personal experience, it just goes to show that every patient is different and one person’s experience might not be as smooth sailing as another person. The procedure is still relatively new.

4. You’ll Carry a Toothbrush Everywhere

Since you cannot eat with your aligners in, you’ll need to carry a toothbrush around with you everywhere! Hunger does not stop just because we’ve got Invisalign! You’ll probably feel like you’re brushing your teeth all the time. Health.com warns that it will likely be somewhere around six times a day. “Plaque and food particles can get in the way of the teeth moving plus can lead to some seriously stanky breath and cavities,” writes the source. “As a result, it’s best to brush your teeth after eating anything.”

The best way to always ensure that you’re prepared is to carry a travel toothbrush with you everywhere. Store it in your purse, car, or even your desk at work. An editor at People magazine wrote about her experience and said she actually got to meet lots of other people who were also in the bathroom at work brushing their teeth because of Invisalign!

5. Don’t Wear Lipstick

This tip really only affects women and might not have been something you’d ever thought of before, but people with Invisalign cannot wear lipstick! To some this might not really matter, but if you are someone who wears lipstick regularly or has a fancy event coming up that you want to wear it for, you can’t. The reason for this is because any colored lip gloss or lipstick will stick to the aligners nad attachments. If you really need to, you can wear clear lip gloss or lip balm, but just be warned that they can leave a waxy residue on the aligners.

6. The Attachments Stain Easily

As we already mentioned, the attachments that are needed for the aligners to stay in place and allow the teeth to move more freely, are easily stained. This is bad news for coffee and tea lovers or those who drink red wine. You can still enjoy these things, but remember, the aligners have to be worn for 22 hours of the day and you must brush your teeth immediately after eating or drinking. If you don’t stick to a regimented routine, those practically invisible attachments will ended up stained and looking like orange kernel pieces that are stuck to your teeth, says Health.com. Yuck!

7. Put in New Aligners at Night

Instead of going in and getting your braces tightened, the way Invisalign works is that the patient will get a new set of aligners every week. These will be perfectly crafted and timed so that they slowly shape your teeth over a period of time. Just like braces or a retainer that hasn’t been worn in a while, anytime you get a new set of aligners, they are going to hurt! Don’t worry, this discomfort and pain just means that the Invisalign is working. To make the process a little more comfortable, Dental Choice recommends putting in the new aligners at night. “This allows you to sleep through those first several hours that are typically the most painful,” writes the source. “When you wake up, your teeth will likely feel sore, but the worst of it passed while you were dreaming about your new smile.”

8. Monitor Your Diet

You might have heard of the “Invisalign diet.” While it’s not an actual diet, there are some people who’ve boasted that they were able to unintentionally lose weight while using Invisalign because they weren’t allowed to snack as much as they used to. Think about it — if everytime you had a snack you had to take out your Invisalign and then go brush your teeth, you might start to get lazy and just stick the snack altogether to save yourself the hassle. For many people, snacking is their worst enemy, so it can work as a positive influence.

Dental Choice does warn that people who are at a healthy weight or already somewhat underweight, they need to monitor their diet because they are likely to be eating less calories while wearing Invisalign, so they need to be more conscious about what they are eating to ensure they are still getting plenty of vitamins and nutrients. Consult with a doctor or nutritionist to find out what would work best for you.

You should also be mindful to drink lots of water. This one should be easy since you are allowed to drink cold water with the Invisalign in! Drinking water will help with the fact that your mouth will probably be salivating more than usual due to the aligners. This can lead to dehydration. So try to be vigilant about drinking lots of water every day.

9. Using Whitening Toothpaste

Dental Choice points out that usually having a retainer or aligner pressed up against your teeth all day long is considered a disadvantage, but when it comes to teeth whitening, it’s actually an advantage. Patients are encouraged to use a whitening toothpaste when using Invisalign because the trays “will keep remnants of the toothpaste, including fluoride and the whitening agent, from washing away after you brush,” writes the source.

10. Don’t Throw Away Old Aligners

You might be tempted to throw your old aligners away once you’ve moved onto a new set, but Dental Choice advises against this. You never know when or if your teeth will shift back to their previous state and those aligners were expensive! You wouldn’t want to have to pay for another set. The source notes that people’s teeth could shift back if their new aligners ever got damaged or lost and it takes about a week to replace them. This might not seem like a long time, but when it comes to Invisalign, a week is precious time full of lots of progress! Always keep your old aligners as back up.

11. Keep Aligners Clean

This one should probably go without saying, but you need to keep your aligners clean. Not only is this important for hygiene, but the whole point of getting Invisalign instead of braces is that they are clear and invisible. Dental Choice warns that clear aligners can lose their clarity if they are’t cleanred properly or are subjected to food and beverage that can stain them. “In addition to appearing cloudy, aligners that need to be cleaned can develop an odor and feel icky in your mouth,” writes the source.

Be sure to follow the proper steps of brushing your teeth after eating, and follow this Invisalign Aligner Cleaning System. It only takes 15 minutes and will work to remove any plaque buildup. If you don’t have the cleaning accessories, the source notes that you can just use antibacterial soap and warm water. Just be sure to use warm water, not hot water. You can also use toothpaste to clean them, but just beware that some toothpaste contains “abrasive substances that could scratch your aligners.”

12. Use a Retainer When Treatment is Finished

You might be counting down the days until the treatment is finished and you don’t have to wear a retainer anymore, sadly that’s not the case. No matter what kind of treatment you’ve had our teeth have a sneaky way of shifting back to their old ways, so the upkeep of maintenance never ends. To maintain your perfect new smile, you will have to continue wearing a retainer even after the treatment is finished. What happens afterwards depends on the patient. For some people they will have to wear Invisalign a little longer and transition into a retainer. How often the retainer needs to be worn is also on a case by case basis.

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