Considering misaligned bites and crooked teeth can decrease the appeal of your smile, you may require orthodontic treatment. Fortunately, your orthodontist can offer a variety of treatments that will gradually move your teeth into an aligned position. While effective, traditional metal braces can be uncomfortable and difficult to maintain. Thankfully, orthodontic aligners are great options if you want to repair your smile in a less noticeable manner.
Each custom aligner is worn around 2 weeks to realign the bite properly, but you will need to remove your aligners periodically to clean. Although you remove the aligners to prevent food from trapping in and on your aligners, cleaning the pieces each day is essential. Using this guide, your orthodontic aligners will be free of germs, bacteria, and leftover food particles.
Warm Water and Brush
Since you can remove the aligners before eating, you can easily brush away leftover food particles on your teeth before placing the aligners back in your mouth. Even though your aligners will not have excessive amounts of food on them, you may still experience light buildup and surface discoloration.
Using your toothbrush and warm water is the easiest way to remove this light residue. Use a wet toothbrush to scrub the clear aligners, rinsing as you go. The combination of warm water and gentle brushing will remove surface debris and staining without much effort.
Your orthodontic aligners come with a special cleaner designed for sanitizing aligners and retainers. This cleanser contains miniscule crystals, which will dissolve away food and plaque from your aligners. Use the following steps to clean your aligners with the specialized cleanser:
- Wash and dry your hands before removing the aligner from your mouth.
- Rinse the aligner under your sink. Use warm water.
- Pour 2–3 tablespoons of the cleanser into a clean bowl.
- Gently place your aligners into the bowl, making sure the cleaning solution covers the entire aligner. If not, pour additional cleanser into the bowl.
- Allow the aligners to soak in the solution for 10–15 minutes. This is a great time to brush and floss your teeth.
- Remove your aligners and rinse using warm water.
- Allow the aligners to air dry before placing them back into your mouth.
The specialized aligner cleanser is effective for removing light buildup, but using a stronger solution is smart for killing harmful bacteria. Considering the human mouth may be home to over 700 strains of bacteria, an antibacterial and antimicrobial cleaning solution is imperative.
Hydrogen peroxide is an effective ingredient for removing plaque, tartar, food residue, and surface stains, but it will also kill any bacteria on your aligners.
With clean hands, remove the aligners from your mouth and rinse under warm water. In a glass, add ½ cup of hydrogen peroxide and ½ cup of warm water. Gently place your aligners into the solution and allow to soak for 15 minutes. After soaking, rinse with warm water before placing back into your mouth.
Sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, effectively cleans your aligners, as well. When the ingredient comes in contact with moisture, it creates carbonation, which quickly dissolves away residue. While strong and effective, baking soda is also a gentle, natural ingredient.
To use baking soda on your aligners, combine the following in a glass or bowl:
- 2 cups of warm water
- 3 tablespoons of baking soda
Mix to ensure the baking soda dissolves into the water. Place your aligners into the container and allow to soak for 10 minutes. Remove the aligners and rinse under warm water.
Orthodontic aligners are a great investment for your smile and confidence, but proper cleaning is imperative for maintenance. Using these tips, your aligners will be clean and appealing.