Patient Care

How should I care for my braces or Invisalign® clear aligners?

How can I take proper care of my teeth with braces? How do I care for my Invisalign® clear aligners? Once you’ve decided on your preferred treatment option and type of braces, you will undoubtedly have these questions.

Maintaining a healthy oral hygiene during your treatment plan is imperative for fighting off bad breath, preserving white teeth, and preventing gum disease and cavities from developing. After all, the last thing you want when you’ve finally completed your treatment period is to be left with a mouthful of poorly-conditioned teeth and gums.

How do I care for my teeth with metal braces?

First of all, brush and floss your teeth rigorously, as you would without braces.

It’s no secret that food can get stuck in your brackets. Brush your teeth twice a day at the least. If you’re able to brush after each meal, that’s even better! When you brush, be sure to target both the front and back of each tooth as well as the bottom and top of the brackets. Rinse with water to loosen any stubborn particles from the chewing surface.

As you go through the process of getting braces, we will suggest proper floss threader tools designed to permeate between wires and brackets. Floss your teeth at least once daily to remove plaque, food and bacteria buildup. We’ll also show you small brushing tools with bristles that slide between each bracket to remove any leftover food particles after each meal.

Another great tool to help prevent gum inflammation during braces is a water flosser, such as the WaterpikⓇ. Water flossers use a thin stream of pressurized water to dislodge food particles and irrigate around the braces and under the gums. The Waterpik has been shown to be a viable alternative to flossing, and patients with braces seem to particularly benefit from it.

If you have removable appliances (such as rubber bands) attached to your braces, be sure to throw them away often and replace them diligently with fresh bands.

While rubber or elastic bands don’t need to be replaced too often, try to replace them about 2 to 3 times a day. As you speak, eat, laugh or practice other daily functions that extend your jaw, rubber bands lose their elasticity and become ineffective. Replace your rubber bands each morning, after meals and after brushing or flossing your teeth. We will provide you with more than enough elastic bands to make it until your next visit.

How do I care for my teeth and my aligners with Invisalign® clear aligners?

Remove your aligners each time you eat, brush, floss or drink anything except water.

If you keep your clear aligners in place while you eat or drink non-water liquids, you’re creating the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to flourish. Flourishing bacteria results in embarrassingly bad breath, discoloration of your teeth and aligners, and the potential for gum inflammation and disease development. Each time you remove your aligners, rinse them out with water, but do not use very hot water!

Brush your teeth at least twice daily, and floss your teeth at least once daily. Try to brush your teeth each time you remove your aligners to prevent bacteria from building up. Brushing and flossing often will promote preservation of your healthy, pearly whites.

Do not use hot water, excessive force or chemicals on your Invisalign® clear braces.

Aligners have feelings too! Not really, but they are sensitive to force, heat and chemicals. When you rinse your aligners out after meals, liquids, brushing or flossing, use lukewarm water. Hot water will damage your aligners by melting them, causing them to lose their custom mold and become ineffective.

Don’t use chemicals that haven’t been approved by your orthodontist on your clear aligners. Certain chemicals can alter the shape of your aligners, cause discoloration or damage their overall composition. Even toothpaste can damage your aligners by making them appear cloudy.

Brush your Invisalign® clear aligners and soak them in solutions approved by your orthodontist.

Rinsing your aligners with water might not be sufficient. Although you cannot use toothpaste on your aligners, brush them gently with your toothbrush and cold or lukewarm water.

Use solutions approved by your orthodontist to soak your clear aligners. Retainer cleaning tablets and denture cleaning tablets are safe. These work especially well when used in an ultrasonic retainer cleaner, which you can purchase online (just google “ultrasonic retainer cleaner”). You can also mix about a tablespoon of white vinegar with cold water and soak your aligners for 15 to 20 minutes. White vinegar is a safe agent for destroying bacteria while preserving your aligners’ composition. Stay clear of other at-home mixtures.

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When should I visit with my orthodontist?

Attend your orthodontic check-ups regularly, as your orthodontist schedules, to remain on top of your oral hygiene and to ensure your braces are working effectively.

Be sure to let Dr. Cardall know about any difficulties you may be experiencing. Chances are good that he has a solution for you!

If metal wires pop out of place or your brackets come off, call the office to schedule an appointment. If you go for a long time with a broken bracket or wire, it can prolong your treatment. We will provide you with dental wax and other treatment options to temporarily ease the impact on your mouth in case your wires or brackets happen to pop out of place.

If you experience trouble with your clear aligners, we may suggest a solution or we may alter your aligners to fit with greater comfort.

We will continue to monitor your progress and oral hygiene maintenance at each visit. Dr. Cardall will alter your treatment as necessary to ensure excellent results and the best patient care.

If you have any further questions about the maintenance of braces treatments, how to clean your braces, or how to clean your Invisalign® clear aligners, reach out to us! Our team is here to help.

If you’re ready to schedule your free exam with Dr. Cardall, or you’re ready to schedule your next appointment, you can do so here!

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