If you are reading this it probably means that either you or your child recently got clear aligner braces, like Invisalign, and are seriously wondering if you made the right decision. Rest assured, I wore clear Invisalign aligners for over one year and will provide you with all the tips and tricks you need to survive.
Before we get to the survival tips, let me start off by briefly telling you about my first few weeks with adult Invisalign clear braces so that you realize that you are not alone. Everyone gets braces for different reasons. I got my braces to help with my suddenly increasing overbite, my stress related TMJ and a few out of place bottom teeth. The first few weeks with aligners can be very difficult and really do make you question your purpose for getting them in the first place
The start of my journey was not an easy one. The first stage of my Invisalign treatment protocol included 22 aligner trays (followed by another 10 for correction), the majority of which were in the back of my mouth. The ones on the sides of my teeth, actually protruded out, almost looking like side fangs. The attachments scraped the inside of my mouth and I had open cuts that burned when I ate food. On the first day, while eating dinner I accidentally bit down to hard and one of the attachments came off. Note: If an attachment comes off, go back to the dentist the next day. I did not go immediately to the dentist and I had to repeat three aligner trays (6 weeks).
In addition to now having fangs and the pain, at the beginning aligners made me feel very self-conscious both while on and off. I did contemplate not continuing with the treatment, however I had already paid in full (and it was not cheap). After about I month, I realized that no one was looking at my braces and those that did notice actually were quite interested in getting some for themselves, or had also worn clear braces in the past.
Now over one year later, I have straight teeth and my jaw pain has gone away. A side bonus of wearing the clear aligners is that I no longer snack freely between meals, which has resulted in weight loss. I also have developed very good dental hygiene, including brushing and flossing multiple times throughout the day. On a daily basis now, I still wear my clear retainer and actually don’t mind when they are on my teeth. Wearing something on my teeth has become a way of life.
Tips & Tricks for Surviving Clear Aligners
Here are some helpful tips for helping you on your own journey with clear aligners…
(1) Keep the braces in as much as possible – only remove to eat
As tempting as it is to leave your braces at home or shove them in your pocket after lunch, you need to wear them as much as possible if you want straight teeth.
The silver lining to having your aligners on all the time is that you limit the amount of in between snacking between meals, which is great if you are trying to lose weight. Taking the aligners in and out and brushing/flossing in between becomes way more work then the enjoyment you will get from snacking.
(2) Use the aligner chewie
Make sure you use a dental chewie after putting on your aligners, especially before going to bed. The chewie is an integral part in getting your aligners to fit tightly on your teeth. Your dentist will have chewies for sale, they also chewies on Amazon – make sure you buy a few for your multiple dental kits.
Note: I cannot stress the importance of a aligner chewie enough of this enough. The chewie was never explained to me at the beginning by my dentist, nor was it suggested for me to purchase it – hence I was clueless, which was one of the reasons in my having to repeat the first 6 weeks – trust me I was not happy!
(3) Do not eat or drink any liquid with the braces on
Only drink clear liquids with your braces on otherwise you will stain your braces. If you must drink something, use a straw, this way the actual contact with your braces will be minimal. You will not be able to eat at all with the braces on, so don’t try it because food will get stuck in the aligners.
(4) Put a new set of aligners on at night
When it comes time to put on a new set of aligners, make sure you do this at night to avoid any unnecessary pain during the day. New sets can often cause tooth / jaw pain and are harder to take on and off.
(5) Use a tool to help you remove the braces (optional)
If you have long nails or are having difficulty removing your braces, use a tool to help you remove them. You can buy the actual tool that is meant for aligner braces (not sure if they sell this in Singapore), or you can do what I did and use an earwax remover metal or plastic tool which is much cheaper then the authentic tool and works just the same. Make sure you buy more than one tool so that you have one readily accessible when you need it.
(6) Carry a dental kit with you at all times
Your dental kit should include :
- Dental Floss
- Apparatus to remove the clear braces
- Braces case
You should have multiple sets of this travel size kit for your purse, office, gym bag, car and anywhere else that you might use it.
(7) Keep spare dental floss in your wallet
Try to keep some emergency dental floss or dental pics in your wallet or purse at all times. Trust me you will thank me for this – food always gets caught on the attachments and the last thing you want is to be without floss when you need it most!
(8) Brush, floss & mouthwash often
Make sure you brush and floss before putting your braces back on. If in a rush, at least use mouthwash before putting the braces on and then brush & floss soon after. Otherwise you might get stains or cavities.
(9) Remove your aligners in the same place at home
Make sure you always take an extra minute before mealtimes to remove you aligners in the exact same while you are at home. This way you will not accidentally misplace them like your keys or phone (happens to me daily). See tip # xx for a suggestion on what I used to do.
(10) Keep a bowl in your home bathroom to soak your aligners
Before eating all my meals at home, I would go to the bathroom and place my aligners in a small glass bowl with water – the same place every day. My aligners would soak in the bowl until I was done with my meal. Then after brushing I would rinse them off and pop them back in my mouth. If you share a bathroom (especially with kids), make sure you cover the bowl to avoid any accidents.
(11) Clean aligners with denture cleaning tablets
Use denture tablets at least 3+ times a week to soak your aligners – this will really help them stay clear for the full two weeks. Just drop the denture tablet in the glass bowl while you are eating dinner and by the time you are done eating your aligners will be clean.
Some Bonus Clear Aligner Tips
(12) Take a small storage container with you when you travel.
When travelling, pack a small plastic storage container with lid, this is in addition to your normal case that you store your aligners. The container his is where you will soak / keep your braces so they don’t get lost in your hotel room. If your hotel offers a morning breakfast, leave your braces in the room – do not take it with you. If you are on the plane – make sure to remove your aligners and place them in your dental kit, or in the aligner case and place it in your under seat bag – do not leave it on the food tray.
(13) Soak dentures in bottled water if travelling to a third world country.
If you are travelling to a third world country, or in a place where you would not drink the tap water. DO NOT soak or rinse your aligners in tap water. Make sure you use bottled water to rinse off and soak your aligners. Carry extra bottles of water with you if necessary when dining out.
(14) Try to avoid dark shades of lipstick.
Dark shades of lipstick almost always end up on the aligners and are hard to remove. If you do wear a dark shade of lipstick, make sure to look in the mirror and/or lick the front of the aligner before speaking with people because more than likely the lipstick is on your aligners. If you must wear that favorite shade of red, you can consider wearing a long wearing, waterproof lip color like Sceptr or other brand that doesn’t rub off.
I hope these tips help! Feel free to leave a comment below if you have other tips of your own that you would like share. Just remember soon these braces will be a distant memory and at the end of this journey you will have beautiful straight teeth soon!
Good luck and happy brushing!