Patients love clear aligners since they offer a lot of freedom during your treatment and are barely noticeable. But while your aligners might look great as you straighten your teeth, there are a lot of important rules to keep in mind.
What Not to Do With Aligners
Taking good care of your teeth and aligners during treatment is key to a healthy, great-looking smile. Here are seven things you should never do while you are being treated with clear aligners.
Eat or Drink While You Wear Them (Other Than Water)
It is important to take out your aligners when you eat or drink anything other than water. Pieces of food can get stuck between your aligners and teeth, which can warp the aligners (making them less effective) and contribute to tooth decay. Drinks can stain aligners, and sugar from some beverages can get between aligners and teeth, just like food, increasing your chance of cavities. Yes, that means your morning coffee too!
Move Too Fast (or Slow)
Stick to your treatment schedule. Unless instructed by your orthodontist, do not move on to your next set of aligners too soon. In addition to causing your teeth to move too quickly and causing discomfort, your teeth may not be ready for them, and your treatment can be delayed.
Similarly, change to your next set as soon as you are scheduled to. If you forget, switch as soon as you remember.
Skip a Day
Wear your aligners every day. If you miss a day, not only will your aligners not be doing their job and progressing your teeth toward your goal, but your teeth can shift back, and you can lose the progress you have worked so hard to gain. If your aligners break or you lose them, ask your orthodontist what to do so you don’t get behind on your treatment.
Take Them Out at Night
Aligners are meant to be worn for at least 22 hours per day. This only allows for about 2 hours without them for eating and drinking. That means wearing them day and night. Try to get as close to that 22-hour mark as you can to move your treatment timeline along.
Throw Them Away
When you move on to your next set, don’t toss the set you completed. Clean them and keep them in a clean, dry place. As we mentioned above, if you lose or break your current aligner set, you may need them. Depending on the time of your treatment, they will advise you whether to reinsert your last set or move on to the next.
Even if lipstick is your favorite part of your makeup look, you should skip it while you are straightening your teeth with clear aligners. Lipstick contains pigments that can stain the aligner material, making them more noticeable. And unlike getting lipstick on your teeth, aligners will stain more easily, and you cannot use whitening toothpaste to remove the stains.
Smoking is bad for your health and for your teeth. It is also bad for aligners. Take your aligners out if you must smoke. Use this as an opportunity to try and cut back on smoking, or quit altogether.
What You CAN Do with Aligners
- Eat what you want! As long as you take out your aligners, there are no food or drink restrictions.
- Look like yourself. Aligners are nearly invisible. You will have your same bright smile during your treatment.
- Get a straighter smile fast. Aligners are effective at straightening your smile. Wear them correctly and get to your goal faster.
If you still have questions about what you can and can’t do with your clear aligners, feel free to ask our office. And remember to keep all of your scheduled appointments to finish your treatment as quickly as possible!