Invisalign aligners give you all the benefits of braces, with none of the public embarrassment or hassles that you associated with traditional braces. School would have gone far easier if they had been around when we were kids. However, like your teeth, they can fall victim to plaque and tartar, which can lead to staining, and worse, bad breath. But no worries! With a few simple tricks at your disposal, through which you can have your aligners good as new in no time.
Which Cleaner Should I Use?
When it comes to cleaning Invisalign, you’ve got plenty of options; from store-bought soaks to homemade cleaners and mouthwash. Some work better than others, but whichever you choose, you always want to keep two things in mind.
1. All the cleaners we’re going to review are strictly for external use only, so if you don’t plan on visiting poison control, remember to thoroughly rinse off any residual liquid.
2. You ought to invest in a sonic or ultrasonic vibrating bath. Some particles just refuse to let go, even after a thorough cleaning. In these cases, a vibrating bath can often convince them to get packing. Your chosen cleaner will fall under one of three main categories: the Invisalign Cleaning System, commercial products, and homemade cleaners. Let’s go through the pros and cons of each one so you can decide which one’s right for you. All of our data has been reviewed by Dr. Mike McDermott, a highly skilled orthodontist in Brainerd, MN.
The Cleaning System
Align Technology, Inc. (the people that make Invisalign) sells their own solution for cleaning Invisalign. It’s an individual packet, filled with crystals, that you add to water to create a soak.
-Pros: It’s the company’s own cleaner, and they’re likely to know their technology best. Align says their product will clean your aligners without causing them to become dull or cloudy.
-Cons: The packets can be a bit expensive. Prepare to spend about a dollar a day.
If you want a cheaper option than Align’s system, but still want to get it from the store, the oral hygiene section of your local supermarket can come to your rescue. The following products will get the job done without any significant change to the appearance of your aligners.
SonicBrite / Retainer Brite
These products work much like Align’s system: a packet of crystals is added to water to create a soak. The main difference here is the price: these will cost you less. Both brands use those battery-powered vibrating baths we mentioned earlier. The baths will work with whatever cleaner you choose, and as we said, they can loosen particles that other cleaners may leave behind.
Effervescent Denture Cleansing Products
The stuff seniors use to clean their dentures is perfectly serviceable here. They usually feature an oxidizing compound and a bubbling agent that work in tandem. The oxidizing compound destroys microorganisms while removing stains. The bubbling agent dissolves the product and does a little cleaning. Other Generic brands like Efferdent, Polident, and Kleenite are cheap and readily available, making this a simple and cost-effective approach to cleaning aligners.
If you’ve ever wanted to be a mad scientist, here’s your chance. No, the solutions below will not make you invisible, but they will turn household items you already have into effective, inexpensive cleaners. The thing to remember is that each of these formulas has unique strengths and weaknesses, so be sure to choose the one that’s ideal for your needs. Let’s take a look at each of the cleaners you can easily make in your own home.
Diluted Hydrogen Peroxide Solution
If you dilute hydrogen peroxide with an equal amount of water, you can use the solution as a soak.
-Pros: The cleanser is antibacterial and antimicrobial.
-Cons: It’s ineffective at removing tartar.
Diluted Bleach Solution (sodium hypochlorite)
Put one part household bleach in ten parts of tap water and soak your aligners for ten minutes.
-Pros: Research shows this solution is lethal to microorganisms and good at combating many types of staining.
-Cons: As before, this will not effectively remove tartar on its own, but you can fix that if you add one teaspoon of Calgon water softener (the calcium-chelating agent, not the soap or bath oil) per glassful.
Diluted Vinegar Solution (acetic acid)
For household versatility, it’s hard to beat white vinegar. It’s excellent for restoring copper, and washing windows. And if you put it in an equal amount of water, it can be an excellent tartar remover.
You may be thinking, “why not just use mouthwash?” While that might seem like a no-brainer since mouthwash usually marries antibacterial ingredients with tolerable flavors, there are a few reasons to avoid using it as an aligner cleaner. To begin with, denture cleaning studies have shown that mouthwash is nowhere near as effective at that sort of cleaning as you’d expect. On top of that, patients have reported that colored mouthwashes, especially the red ones, can discolor your aligners, or the stuff you’re trying to remove. With that in mind, you should probably stick to one of the cleaning methods we’ve outlined above.
Other Cleaning Tips and Tricks
Take Chances, Make Mistakes, Get Messy
Aligners are temporary by design, so once you have an old set, you’ve got a guinea pig. Feel free to test your cleaning solutions, and if you see any visible changes in appearance, don’t use that method on your current or future sets.
Avoid Heated Areas
Your invisible braces are made of a sheet of plastic that has been softened with heat and suctioned over a model. Exposing aligner products to heat or hot liquids may cause distortions.
A Toothbrush Works Too
You can use a soft-bristled, child-sized, toothbrush to remove debris from your aligners. Just remember that most kinds of toothpaste contain abrasives. Over time, those can make enough micro-scratches to be noticeable. Stick with plain water instead, or add two or three drops of dishwashing detergent. Even the toothpaste left on a brush after you’ve used it can eventually damage your aligners. Make sure to keep a separate toothbrush you only use for cleaning purposes.
If you’d like more information, you can reach out to our hard-working orthodontist in Brainerd, MN. His name is Dr. Mike McDermott, and when it comes to aligners, he’s an invaluable resource.
How Do I Clean my Invisalign?
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Baxter, MN 56425