You discussed teeth-straightening methods with your dentist and have decided that you would be a good candidate for treatment with Invisalign clear plastic aligners. Invisalign can be more comfortable and convenient than wearing traditional braces, but this convenience can increase the risk of non-compliance. This can make it take longer to get the results that you want. Whether you are waiting for your first set of aligners to arrive or if you have already received them, there are steps you can take to get the most benefits from your Invisalign treatment.
You must wear Invisalign as instructed
In order for these nearly invisible aligners to work, they must be worn. While this might seem obvious, there are many reasons why some individuals may choose to go without their aligners for a period of time. This is not recommended. You should aim to wear your Invisalign aligners for at least 22 hours every day. They should only be removed to eat, drink, or to clean your teeth and aligners.
When the aligners are not worn as directed, it can lead to a variety of issues. Your treatment may take longer than originally planned or your results may not be what you had hoped. The more you wear your Invisalign, the easier it will be to get used to them.
Keep a good fit
Your aligners are designed to fit snugly against your teeth. In most cases, this is as easy as snapping your aligners into place. You should be able to feel when they are fully installed.
If you do not feel that your aligners fit too well, there is help. Plastic “chewies” are available for you to chomp down on to make sure each tooth is positioned into the aligner properly.
Change your aligners only as directed
Each aligner is typically worn for a week or two before moving on to the next, though this could vary depending on the individual. Each successive tray is designed to fit properly only after your teeth have shifted position properly from the previous aligner. Your dentist will tell you when the time is right to change to the next set.
If you try to move too quickly, this will not get your results to come about any faster. In fact, it could hinder the progress of your treatment. Moving on to the next aligner too soon can be uncomfortable and may result in the need for an entire new set of aligners. This means starting completely over. If your doctor recommends waiting a few extra days before moving on, then that is how you should proceed.
Remove your aligners to eat or drink
One of the benefits provider by Invisalign is the lack of restrictions on your food and beverage choices and the ease of cleaning. This is because you can easily remove the aligners to enjoy even crunchy or sticky foods. When you remove your aligners, be sure that you store them in their case to prevent loss or damage.
Do not eat while you are wearing your aligners. Foods can damage or stain your Invisalign product. You should also remove your aligners when you drink most beverages to avoid similar problems. You may drink water while you wear your clear plastic aligners.
Clean your teeth after eating or drinking
Foods and beverages can leave sugars or acids on your teeth, which can lead to decay. Because your Invisalign aligners fit snugly against the surface of your teeth, this can hold these destructive materials against your teeth and the inner portion of the aligners resulting in staining or damage.
Before replacing your aligners after eating or drinking, brush your teeth to be sure all residue is gone. You will most likely want to carry a travel toothbrush and toothpaste with you so you can care for your teeth and trays while you are out. A bonus is that you may notice that a whitening toothpaste works better because the aligners hold the agents against your teeth.
Clean your aligners, too
Keeping your Invisalign aligners clean is important for comfort and their nearly invisible appearance. However, some believe that it is necessary to scrub them with their normal toothpaste to keep them clean and fresh. This can actually damage the aligners or cause them to look scratched and dull. Scratches also provide a harbor for bacteria that can be destructive to your teeth.
You can still use a soft toothbrush to clean your aligners, but choose a mild soap instead of an abrasive toothpaste. You also may want to avoid using mouthwash or hot water to prevent damage. There is also a special rinse that you can purchase to keep your retainers clean and bright, but a mild soap will work fine in most cases.
Keep up your social activities
At first, you may feel awkward when wearing your aligners in situations where you will be close to others or have to speak. You do not have to worry. Your Invisalign aligners are nearly invisible, even up close.
At first, speaking may be difficult until you adjust to having the aligners in your mouth. The more you talk, the quicker you will make the adjustments necessary for clearer speech. If you feel too self-confident, talk to yourself in front of a mirror throughout the day to get a better feel for how these trays may affect your speech.
Take advantage of additional help
If your dental care provider recommends attachments or additional procedures, you might want to seriously consider these options. Attachments, sometimes called buttons, can help to keep the aligners fitting snugly to prevent gaps and speed up your treatment.
Interproximal reduction, or IPR, might be necessary to remove a small portion of tooth enamel if your teeth feel too crowded. Certain devices or surgical procedures may also be used to accelerate the process and shorten the duration of your treatment. These methods may not be for every individual, so you should discuss your options with your dental care provider.
Save your used aligners
Once you are done with an aligner and move on to the next, it could be tempting to toss the used aligner. If you lose or damage your current tray, you can use your previous aligner until you can get a new one from your provider so that you can stay on track with your treatment.
If you do not have your previous aligner, you could slow down your progress. Depending on how long it takes to get your replacement, you may have to begin the process all over again. Clean your old aligners well before storing them away in case they are ever needed.
Wear your retainer
Once you have completed your Invisalign treatment, you will most likely be fitted with a retainer. At first, you may be required to wear your retainer around the clock except for cleanings. This will be reduced to nightly. Some users may be able to limit retainer use to once or twice a week.
To maintain your straight smile, it is imperative to wear your retainer as directed. Teeth may be loose, especially right after the Invisalign treatment. When loose, your teeth may slowly shift back into their original positions. Wearing the retainer will help teeth to stay in place while connective tissue tightens to the new locations.
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