Do You Need to Clean Your Invisalign Trays?

Traditional dental braces can create an obstacle when cleaning your teeth. The components of the braces create a literal physical obstacle, making it difficult to access all the surfaces of your teeth. This problem can certainly be overcome, and it's just a matter of learning the best techniques for cleaning around your braces. The problem doesn't exist with Invisalign, since these orthodontic aligner trays can just be removed when you clean your teeth and will be periodically replaced throughout the course of your treatment. Does this mean you don't need to be too concerned about keeping your Invisalign trays clean?

A Specific Approach

Your Invisalign trays will need some cleaning, and they require a specific approach. This approach reflects both the thermoplastic construction of your trays and the fact that they must be worn for the majority of the day. You should only be removing your trays to eat and drink. 

Bacterial Accumulation

Aside from these brief removal periods, the trays will be in continuous direct contact with your dental enamel. Cleaning the trays removes cariogenic (cavity-causing) oral bacteria (which is primarily the strains Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus sobrinus, and lactobacilli). Cleaning removes the accumulation of this bacteria, which helps to keep your teeth healthy, minimising the risk of cavities during your orthodontic treatment. So how should you clean your trays?

Cleaning Your Trays

Simple liquid soap and water is a good starting point. Water can be cold or warm, but not excessively hot, as this can warp your trays. You may also wish to brush your trays, and this can be done with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Hard bristles may scratch the thermoplastic, creating grooves which can encourage the accumulation of oral bacteria. In fact, you must be careful that your cleaning methods do not damage your trays.

Soaking Your Trays

Some Invisalign users may wish to soak their trays while they eat. While this is an accepted method, you must use an appropriate cleansing solution. The effervescent cleansers intended for dentures should not be used, as they're much too harsh. These products are designed to clean and sterilise the rigid acrylic of dentures and not the lightweight thermoplastic of your Invisalign aligner trays. There are effervescent cleansers specially formulated for Invisalign, so be sure to ask your orthodontist.

This cleaning should happen at least daily and is best performed after your evening meal—or during your meal, if you should be soaking your trays. Brush and floss your teeth to remove food debris before reinserting your clean trays.

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