Living with Aligners | Invisalign Clear Braces | Elara Orthodontics

Living with Aligners

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Living with Invisalign

Before you decide to get Invisalign, you may want to know what to expect. Like any other treatment, Invisalign aligners have their own advantages and disadvantages. Obviously, the transparent look of the aligners is a significant interest for many adult patients. Invisalign has other benefits too. For example, unlike braces wearers, aligner patients do not have a list of forbidden teeth. (As long as you remove your aligners, you can eat whatever you like). Or, unlike braces wearers, they don’t need to go to the orthodontist office every month. (If you are a busy professional, travel a lot, or live far from your orthodontist, you will give the thumbs-up to this feature).

Notwithstanding all these benefits, like any new experience in life, getting aligners may require some adjustments and adaptations. There are certain things every patient needs to know before starting treatment with aligners. Let’s review some of those here.

You may receive more attachments than you expect.

If you do not want attachments on your front teeth, let your orthodontist know. There may be a way to handle the situation without the attachment. But most of the time, there will be a trade-off in terms of efficacy. In some other cases, lingual braces (such as 3M Unitek Incognito) may be a better fit for you. The attachments can also be removed temporarily and placed back on if necessary.

Orthodontists routinely check the integrity of the attachments in the follow-up visits. They repair the attachment(s) that may be lost or worn off. If some of your attachments break, the best thing to do is just to inform your orthodontist. Some attachments are more critical during specific stages of the treatment and may not be as essential in other times. Your orthodontist will let you know if you need to make an immediate appointment to repair it.

Your attachments (and your aligners) may discolor if you eat foods with intense colors such as yellow curry, turmeric, and saffron. It is better to consume these spices on moderation while having aligners and also, immediately brush and rinse the mouth to avoid discoloration. If discoloration happens, your orthodontist can remove the attachments and place a brand new set of attachments on your teeth.

If you do not want attachments on your front teeth, let your orthodontist know. There may be a way to handle the situation without the attachment. But most of the time, there will be a trade-off in terms of efficacy. In some other cases, lingual braces (such as 3M Unitek Incognito) may be a better fit for you. The attachments can also be removed temporarily and placed back on if necessary.

Orthodontists routinely check the integrity of the attachments in the follow-up visits. They repair the attachment(s) that may be lost or worn off. If some of your attachments break, the best thing to do is just to inform your orthodontist. Some attachments are more critical during specific stages of the treatment and may not be as essential in other times. Your orthodontist will let you know if you need to make an immediate appointment to repair it.

Your attachments (and your aligners) may discolor if you eat foods with intense colors such as yellow curry, turmeric, and saffron. It is better to consume these spices on moderation while having aligners and also, immediately brush and rinse the mouth to avoid discoloration. If discoloration happens, your orthodontist can remove the attachments and place a brand new set of attachments on your teeth.

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Inter-proximal reduction (IPR) is often a routine procedure in Invisalign therapy.

Interproximal Reduction (IPR) is a fancy term for removing a tiny layer of enamel from between the teeth. This is a minor procedure orthodontists routinely do to gain some space among the teeth. They may need the space to alleviate the crowding, adjust the midline, improve the bite, or other reasons. To perform IPR, orthodontists use small burs, discs, diamond strips, or a combination of these tools. The amount of the enamel removed at each surface is negligible and does not exceed 0.25 mm. The procedure is minimally invasive, is very easy and quick, and, most of the time, completely pain-free.

You have to use your aligners for at least 22 hours each day.

Invisalign and clear aligners are removable appliances and therefore provide the patients with a lot of flexibility. Patients have the luxury of removing their aligners for eating and for brushing. However, with freedom comes responsibility! For any orthodontic appliance to
work, a light but steady force should be consistently applied on the teeth. Inconsistencies and interruptions will significantly reduce the efficacy of the aligners and may cause the treatment to fail.

You can eat whatever you like, but you cannot eat with Invisalign in your mouth.

Eating with clear aligners in your mouth not only damages your aligners but also is unhygienic. Food debris will get trap in the aligners and cause damage to your teeth and gums. For main meals or for snacks, you must remove your aligners. After eating, you need to clean your teeth thoroughly before putting back the aligners on.

You may notice an insignificant lisp for a few days.

Talking with your aligners for the first time, you may feel a slight lisp. But this lisp is so insignificant that it probably is only noticeable to you. Typically, your tongue gets used to the new aligners in a matter of few days to a week, and this slight lisp will go away.

You cannot drink coffee or wine with Invisalign in your mouth.

Having Invisalign in your mouth, you can only drink water. If you want to drink wine and alcoholic beverages, juice, soda, tea, and coffee (either cold or hot), you need to move your aligners. Drinking these beverages while wearing Invisalign is like soaking your teeth in a bath full of these liquids. Doing so may damage your teeth. Any colorful drink such as coffee or wine may leak inside your aligners and cause discoloration of your attachments or aligners. Hot tea or hot coffee can damage the plastic of your aligners, leading to their deformation. The best practice is to remove aligners to drink anything except for water.

You cannot chew gum with your aligners!

You cannot chew gum with your aligners in your mouth. Chewing gum will dislodge the aligners from their place. You need to take your aligners off if you want to have chewing gum. But remember to limit the time you remove your aligners to 2 hours each day. The two hours include the time required for your main meals and the time necessary for brushing as well.

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You must carry your aligner case and some oral hygiene tools with you.

Every day, when you go to work (or to the school), you need to take your aligner case with you. To avoid misplacing or losing your aligners, you need to make a habit of placing them in the designated case. Make sure to put your aligners in their container and place them somewhere safe before you go for lunch when you are at work. The only two safe places for the aligners are in your mouth or in their case. Never wrap them in tissue paper!

In the contest to the braces wearers, who must buy specific toothbrushes and learn new techniques, Invisalign patients don’t need any of those. Generally speaking, clear aligners are hygienic and makes it easy for the patient to keep their teeth clean during the orthodontic treatment. Aligners should be removed for eating. You can only drink water with them. To drink anything else, like coffee or soda, you must remove your aligners. The goal is to keep the aligners clean at all times. Therefore you need to clean your teeth after meals as thoroughly as possible before putting your aligners back on.

Ideally, you need to pack a travel-size toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss in your bag or purse before you leave the door. If you don’t have room for all these, consider getting disposable pre-pasted mini brushes such as Colgate Wisp. Having some ADA-approved sugar-free chewing gums handy is also a good idea. Another useful tool is a product called White Foam made by Eversmile company. This is a hydrogen-peroxide-based foam that you can fill your aligners with before putting them on your teeth. Hydrogen peroxide at the right concentration is a safe and effective oral disinfectant. It is also a tooth whitener that has been in use in dentistry for over a century. Using White Foam can clean and brighten the aligners and the teeth.

You may lose weight.

Some patients find it challenging to snack a lot when wearing aligners. Removing the aligners and cleaning the teeth each time after eating is inconvenient so, some patients stop snacking totally, and therefore, they may lose weight. This is actually good news for those who want to give up habits of grazing and random eating. Invisalign almost forces people to limit their foods to three main meals. If you really like frequent snacks a lot, you need to make some necessary adaptations. The goal is to ensure you keep your teeth clean and also use your aligners sufficiently.

You may need to make some small changes in your makeup or your nails.

Nail extensions and Acrylic nails may be problematic when taking the aligners off. You may want to stay away from fake nails, or alternatively, you can buy a small aligner removal tool to avoid breaking your nails. (you can find one of these aligner removal tools in Amazon). When it comes to lipstick, high-quality matte and transfer-resistant lipsticks are more proper to use with aligners. Liquid gel and creamy lipsticks may leak and sag into the aligners.

When you finish your aligners, you may need some more.

Finishing your aligners doesn’t necessarily mean you are done with treatment. You should meet with your orthodontist and evaluate the result. It is very typical to have some additional aligners after your first round of treatment is over. The reason for additional aligners is to correct the possible imperfections where your teeth didn’t follow the plan as they should.

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