How to Clean Aligners (And How Often)

Jul 7, 2023

Are you unhappy with your crooked teeth? You’re not alone. The global clear aligners market reached $4.1 billion in 2022 and could grow by over 30% before 2030 as more people start treatment.

If you’re beginning orthodontic treatment with clear aligners, you’ll need to keep them clean. Otherwise, bacteria can spread, affecting your smile. Read on to learn how to clean aligners today!

Remove, Rinse, and Replace

Always remove your clear aligners before meals. Don’t eat or drink (beverages besides water) with your aligners in place. Otherwise, you could stain or warp the plastic.

Food particles might stick to or damage your aligners, affecting your treatment plan.

Plaque can form as bacteria and saliva mix with food particles within your mouth. Plaque is the tacky, clear film that can stick onto and between your teeth. Leaving plaque unattended increases your risk of tooth decay.

Plaque can also develop below your gum line, leading to a gum infection. You could develop gingivitis, which causes the gums to separate from your teeth. You could lose teeth if gingivitis progresses to periodontitis. 

Before that happens, make a mental note to always remove your aligners before meals.

When rinsing your aligners, use lukewarm water. Cold or hot water could warp the plastic. If your aligners don’t fight properly, your treatment plan could get off track. 

After rinsing your aligners, place them in their designated hard case. Never place your aligners in a napkin during meals. You could accidentally toss your aligners out with the trash. 

After meals, brush your teeth and put your aligners back into place. You’ll need to wear your aligners for 20 to 22 hours a day. Neglecting to wear your aligners can cause a delay in your treatment plan. 

Brush Up

It’s important to brush your teeth after meals, before you put your aligners back into your mouth. Brushing and flossing your teeth will ensure you clear away food particles and bacteria. Otherwise, food particles can get trapped between your teeth and the aligners.

Plaque could form as a result. 

Instead of brushing your teeth twice a day, try to brush after every meal. 

Brush your teeth aligners regularly, too. Brushing your dental aligners will remove any lingering plaque, bacteria, or saliva from the plastic. Brush using a soft-bristled toothbrush or brush meant for aligners. 

Never use toothpaste when brushing your aligners. Toothpaste is abrasive. You could scratch the plastic, affecting their appearance when you wear them. 

If your aligners are discolored or have started emitting a foul odor, it means there are bacteria on the plastic. Use lukewarm water, a brush, and colorless, unscented liquid soap when brushing your aligners. 

Make sure to rinse all the soap away before putting the aligners back into your mouth. 

Consistency is key when cleaning your aligners. Keeping them clean will ensure a more effective treatment plan while allowing you to avoid delays.

Soak in Solution

Schedule time to soak your dental aligners at least once a week. Soak them more often if they emit an odor or look discolored. Soaking your aligners will allow for more thorough cleaning. 

Most dental aligner companies, like Invisalign, sell their own cleaning solutions. Use their cleaning crystals or solutions as directed.

Remove your teeth aligners and rinse them under lukewarm water. Brush them as well to clean away as much bacteria as you can.

Place the aligners in a bowl of lukewarm water and dissolve the solution within the water. Allow the aligners to soak for about 15 minutes.

Afterward, rinse your aligners under lukewarm water again to clear away any lingering solution. Place your aligners in their designated tray or back into your mouth. 

Mark a day and time on your calendar to soak your aligners once a week. Otherwise, bacteria can develop against the plastic. 

Set a Schedule

Remember, consistency is key when cleaning your aligners. 

Make sure to remove your aligners every night before bed to brush and rinse them with water. Brush and floss your teeth before putting your aligners back into place. Otherwise, food debris and bacteria could get trapped, allowing plaque to form.

You should clean your aligners more often if you notice they look dirty.

For example, perhaps you accidentally drank a beverage that contains food dye while wearing your aligners. Remove the aligners to rinse and brush them as soon as possible. Otherwise, the food dye could discolor the clear plastic.

If you neglect to clean your aligners on a schedule, bacteria can affect the appearance of your teeth. They might begin to look discolored as plaque forms. You might notice your breath smells bad, even after you brush your teeth, which could indicate you have gingivitis. 

If you notice these problems, talk to your dentist to discuss treatment options right away. 

Brush and floss your teeth after meals, rinse your aligners each time you remove them, and soak them once a week. 

Avoid Mistakes

When you’re in a rush, it’s easy to make mistakes when cleaning your aligners. 

Always avoid harsh products that might warp or damage the plastic. These include:

  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Scented soaps
  • Denture cleaners

Mouthwash often contains green or blue dyes that can discolor the clear plastic. Scented soaps can leave a bitter taste in your mouth as well. Avoid any products that contain dye.

Always use a soft-bristled brush when cleaning your aligners to avoid damaging the plastic. 

Learn How to Clean Aligners Today

Learning how to clean aligners can ensure you remain on track with your treatment plan. Use these tips to keep your teeth aligners sparkling clean. With these tips, you won’t have to worry about discolored or ill-fitting aligners. 

Remember to consult your dentist if you have any questions about your aligner therapy. 

Eager to start treatment with clear aligners? We’re here for you. 

Contact us today to get started.