You’ve definitely heard the news that coronavirus, properly known as SARS-CoV-2, is spreading and causing outbreaks of COVID-19 all over the world. There are a few recommendations that everyone agrees on, including the Center for Disease Control(the CDC) and theWorld Health Organization (WHO). These include washing your hands frequently and avoiding touching your face as much as possible, as spread is most likely through respiratory droplets. The latest reports are showing that the virus may survive in the air for up to three hours, and on surfaces for up to three days.
But my aligners are in my mouth...
What does this mean if you have aligners? Aligners are meant to be removed and replacedevery time you eat or drink anything that isn't water. Aligner wearers are therefore putting their hands in their mouths multiple times a day, transferring virus and bacteria from surfaces to their mouths, and then getting respiratory droplets on their hands and anything else their aligners touch. How can this be helped?
First, be sure your hands are clean before inserting them in your mouth to remove your aligners. Proper handwashing technique should take 20 seconds and involve a thorough scrub:
There are many ways to ensure you are washing your hands long enough, from counting down, to using a timer, to singing the chorus of a song you know is long enough. The CDC recommends singing “Happy Birthday” twice for appropriate timing, but if that drives you completely insane, we found a list of varied songs that also work well. (As a bonus, "Staying Alive" is also the right pace for providing CPR. Good to know, just in case.)
Can't wash your hands?
If you are not able to wash your hands, you may want to carry hand sanitizer gel or wipes and use them—making sure to cover all surfaces of your hands—before taking out your aligners AND before putting them back in. The CDC has stated that alcohol solutions of at least 70% should be effectivewhen it comes to disinfection of the coronavirus. If you are having a hard time finding hand sanitizer at the store or online, the WHO has guidelines formaking your own.
Aligner removal tool
An aligner removal tool may also be helpful to limit how much of your hands need to get in your mouth. These tools have a small hook that catches the edge of your aligner and helps pop it off your teeth, so you're not struggling to get the right grip with your fingernails. They go by a variety of names and come in several styles:
Once you’ve removed your aligners, place them in a case rather than on a table or napkin. This is a good time to consider a cleaning product with hydrogen peroxide, such as EverSmile WhiteFoam, which kills 99.999% of bacteria within 60 seconds. Though this is no guarantee against coronavirus, practicing good oral hygiene will help keep you healthy. Those with underlying conditions are most susceptible to coronavirus.
Wash or sanitize your hands again before putting your aligners in your mouth. If you are using EverSmile WhiteFoam, you can place the trays with the foam back in your mouth, where the foam will work to kill bacteria on your teeth and gums.
If this isn't possible...
If you are totally unable to make sure your hands are clean before removing and replacing your aligners for whatever reason, you may want to consider leaving them in, or only wearing them at night. Now is not the time to take risks regarding your health or that of those around you!