Clean ANY clear aligner!
No matter which company you went with- Invisalign, SmileDirectClub, Candid Co, ClearCorrect, SnapCorrect, SmileLove, ByteMe, YourSmileDirect, UniformTeeth, Orthly or any of the others-- we've got you. You're excited to get your teeth straight! You've made the investment, and we're here to help.
We're going to cover:
- The best on-the-go aligner cleaner
- All the at-home soaks you can do
- Why NOT to use toothpaste or mouthwash on your aligner
You're probably already aware that you're going to be brushing your teeth a LOT more than you're used to-- every time you eat or drink something, if you're following instructions. But how about keeping your aligners clean? You're only wearing them for a couple of weeks each, but you're wearing them ALL DAY-- 22 hours EVERY day! Funk builds up! The last thing you want is for your aligner to smell or look funky, making you self-conscious. You got clear aligners so you can be confident!
What is the funk?
You might be wondering how your aligner gets funky in the first place. You brush your teeth, so your mouth is clean, right? Almost. Your saliva is a natural tooth cleanser, but your aligners keep your saliva off your teeth. Plaque and biofilm build up under the aligner, creating a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. This means that your aligners start getting dirty the minute you put them in your mouth.
How about good ol' water?
Invisalign in particular recommends that you rinse your aligners with water after eating. Water is definitely safe for the plastic, but it won’t provide more than a cursory cleaning. Also, you want to make sure never to use hot water, as that can soften and warp the plastic—and the shape is what’s moving your teeth!
On The Go: when you need more than a rinse
So a basic rinse might be… basically good, but what about plaque and bacteria?
For most of the day, you’re out. You’re at school, or at work, or out to lunch, or running errands. A public restroom really isn’t the best place to try to soak your aligners (more tips on that below), and you probably don’t want them sitting on your desk or table (if you have a desk or table!) for half an hour anyway. You want fresh breath too, so you need something a little more than a rinse. What can you do?
EverSmile’s® WhiteFoam™ is designed specifically for this situation, and it is safe for ALL aligners! This is a minty foam made with hydrogen peroxide that is spread on your aligners and put directly back in your mouth—the hydrogen peroxide kills bacteria that cause bad breath and tooth decay, the foam reaches every nook in your aligner to keep things moist, and the minty flavor leaves you refreshed and confident. As a bonus, over time the hydrogen peroxide also gently whitens your teeth!
At Home: let's get soaked
When you're at home, you can use a variety of soaks for a deeper clean. SmileDirectClub recommends these top five:
- Soap & Warm Water- ¼ teaspoon soap (roughly) and warm water Soak for 20-30 min and rinse off the soap in fresh cool water.
- Vinegar & Water- 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts warm water. Soak for 20-30 min and rinse off the vingear with fresh cool water. Vinegar is mildly acidic, which helps remove tartar.
- Baking Soda & Water- 1 tablespoon baking soda with ½ cup warm water. Mix gently to dissolve the baking soda and soak for 30 min. Rinse in fresh cool water.
- Peroxide & Water- equal parts hydrogen peroxide and warm water. Soak for 30 min. Peroxide is antimicrobial and antibacterial, and its oxidizing properties help remove stains.
- Retainer or Denture Cleaning Tablet (& Water…)- Add the tablet to water and soak per the instructions on the packet, usually for 15-20 min. Note that these are often designed for retainers and dentures that aren't clear. If the tablet has some color to it, this could transfer to your aligner over time. It's best to only use clear products!
What about bleach?
This has been suggested as a good way to maintain the clarity of aligners and disinfect them. However, using too much bleach or soaking for too long can cause discoloration of your aligners, or even change the plastic’s texture over time. Commercial bleaches are not all the same strength, and you might not feel comfortable knowing exactly how much bleach to use. If the aligners are not well-rinsed, bleach residue can irritate your gums. For these reasons, we do not recommend diluted bleach soaks.
What about mouthwash?
It’s minty, right? It’s antibacterial. However, denture cleaning studies have shown that mouthwash isn't particularly good at cleaning appliances, and certain colors (especially red) can actually discolor your clear aligners. So it’s best to avoid soaking aligners in mouthwash, though it’s perfectly fine to use mouthwash as part of your oral care routine.
What do ALL these soaks have in common? They take a while! If you’re only keeping your trays out for 2 hours per day and this takes half an hour…well, you must be eating really fast meals! These soaks make the most sense on a weekly basis, when you’re at home. You also want to rinse your trays very thoroughly after these soaks, as none of those cleaning agents taste very good (yum, vinegar).
What About Brushing?
Simple enough, and you’re already brushing your teeth, right? Well, you paid a lot of money for clear aligners, and brushing can scratch the plastic, making them less clear. Scratches also provide spots for gunk to build up as you wear the aligner, making them harder to clean over time. The scratches aren’t due to the brush—they’re due to the toothpaste itself, which is actually abrasive. (We recommend a low-abrasion toothpaste for your teeth, but for most people regular toothpaste won’t cause problematic scratches.) If you’d like, you can brush your aligners with a soft bristle brush and a mild detergent soap.
We hope that we've helped you feel confident that you can keep your aligners and your teeth as fresh and clean as possible- anytime, anywhere. You did your research- now get out there and SMILE!