If you're looking into Invisalign braces to straighten your teeth and improve your smile, the last thing that you want is to end up with teeth that are straight, but full of cavities. You might be surprised to learn that many dental patients complain of developing cavities while using invisible braces. Your teeth are more prone to developing cavities because you're required to wear the Invisalign trays over your teeth for most of the day, which prevents your mouth from naturally cleaning your teeth and protecting them from tooth decay with saliva. However, if you're careful, you can avoid the cavities that sometimes come along with the use of invisible braces.
Prevent With Sealant
One strategy is to have your teeth sealed before you begin using the Invisalign trays. Ask your dentist about this procedure. Having your teeth sealed is easy. The dentist uses a liquid plastic material to paint the surface of your teeth. Sealant is usually applied on the chewing surface on the back sides of the teeth, not on the front. It's meant to seal out plaque and bacteria that cause decay.
While tooth sealant won't prevent 100% and you'll still need to take good care of your teeth, a layer of sealant can give your teeth an extra layer of protection while they're being straightened. That extra layer might make the difference between cavities and no cavities.
Brush and Floss After Every Meal
While you're using invisible braces, it is not the time to be sloppy about oral care. Do you normally only brush in the morning and the evening? Do you save the flossing for right before bed? If so, you're going to have to change your habits. You need to thoroughly brush and thoroughly floss after every meal, and after every snack too. And you need to do it quickly – you're not supposed to have the Invisalign trays out of your mouth for more than a couple of hours a day.
It's a good idea to invest in some extra toothbrushes, tubes of toothpaste, and containers of dental floss, because in order to keep up with this tooth-cleaning schedule, you're going to have to carry them with you. Put a tooth care kit in your purse or lunch container, another one in your glove box in the car, and another in your locker at work. Try not to get caught without one – putting the Invisalign trays in without brushing your teeth not only blocks your saliva from cleaning and protecting your teeth, it traps any food particles between the trays and your teeth. The longer they sit there, the greater the chance for decay.
Switch to a Tooth-Healthy Diet
Since your teeth need a little boost right now, make sure that you're eating a diet made for keeping teeth healthy and happy. Cheese, nuts, meat, and milk contain calcium and phosphorus, both of which are essential for strong teeth. Raw vegetables and crunchy fruits stimulate saliva production and contain lots of water, which helps wash away any sugar these foods contain.
Avoid overly processed foods and sticky or sugary candies and desserts. You should also steer clear of soft drinks and fruit juices – and if you do drink these, take your Invisalign trays out first and brush your teeth afterward. The last thing you want is soda trapped between your trays and your teeth. Eat oranges and other acidic fruits sparingly, because the acids are hard on your teeth.
You may also want to consider chewing gum sweetened with xylitol. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that's been shown to reduce cavities. Chew a piece in between eating a meal and brushing your teeth for a cavity fighting boost.
If it seems like you'll be making a lot of extra effort for strong, straight teeth, that's because you are. Just picture how great your smile will look when you're done, and you'll remember why all the extra work is so worthwhile.
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