Part 6 from a series written by an actual Invisalign user.
Once your dentist sends you home with your custom-made, just-for-you Invisalign trays, you should want to experience a successful process. What can you do to ensure that using Invisalign is a positive form of treatment, leaving you with well-aligned and healthy teeth? Here are some tips from someone who is almost done wearing them for over four months.
Wear Your Invisalign
The first piece of advice seems obvious, but you do have to wear your Invisalign aligners. “Of course I’ll wear them,” you say at the beginning. “I spent good money on them and I want straight teeth!” But one of the most wonderful things about this orthodontic system — the fact that you can remove the aligners for eating, brushing and flossing — can also be their disadvantage! You can remove them, unlike braces, and unless you’re super disciplined, you may end up not wearing them as much as you should.
For example, when you say you’re getting Invisalign, people respond with: “It’s so great that you can take it off for special occasions!” And it’s true! If you have a super special event like a fancy party, a wedding, family photos, seeing an old love interest (you know — those occasions where you want to look dazzling), you take out your Invisalign. It won’t hurt to have them out for a short stretch of time, as long as you get back to your regular schedule as soon as possible. What’s the daily goal for wearing Invisalign? My dentist told me “at least 22 hours a day” and I just went with that.
What does 22 hours or more a day mean? It means the vast majority of the day, whether at school, work, church, sleeping, shopping, going out and around the house, you need to have them on! You may even find that taking them off for those “special occasions” just isn’t even worth it. Where can you take them off discreetly? Can you wash them and your hands afterwards? What bathroom will you have to do it in? Invisalign is not completely invisible, but they are pretty hard for the average person to detect, so most of the time I would just wear them. It is often too much trouble to remove them when I’m out and about.
Keep Your Teeth Clean
Second, keep your Invisalign aligners and your teeth clean. If you have really bad dental hygiene habits, now is the time to change. If you have really good dental hygiene habits, now is the time to ramp it up even more. While conventional braces make cleaning between teeth more work, and food catches in the apparatus, on the whole the rest of your teeth and gums experience the same hazards of regular life. But for an Invisalign wearer, proper dental care, all day long, becomes a priority. Upon arising, you’ll take out your aligner trays and soak them in a solution of water with the little cleaning tablets provided. After a quick breakfast, remember you don’t want to have them out too long, so it’s time for a good toothbrushing of both your teeth and your trays. Now pop the trays back in. Repeat over and over and over all day, every single time you eat or drink something besides water. That leads us to tip number three.
Tip number three is evident quite soon after getting Invisalign installed — stop snacking! Getting Invisalign means coming face-to-face with one’s snacking, nibbling, tasting, and munching habits. It seems inevitable that as soon as I’ve dutifully brushed my teeth and my trays and all is sparking clean, in five minutes someone offers me a mouth-watering treat, and of course I’m not talking about a glass of plain water. Even if it’s just a bite, you’ll soon decide it is just not worth going through the whole process of taking out your liners, eating the piece of bliss, and then brushing everything all over, especially if you’re not home. That leads to point four.
Always Carry a Toothbrush
Point four is to take dental cleaning supplies with you. You’ll want to have your little tool for removing your trays, a toothbrush and floss, toothpaste and the carrying case for your Invisalign set. Unless you work from home, plan on regularly brushing your teeth and trays in a public setting. You may think this grosses people out, but instead, most people are impressed at your diligence and wish they had the self-discipline to carry similar supplies.
What to Eat with Invisalign
The last tip for this post is what to eat and what not to eat as an Invisalign wearer. My dentist told me to go ahead and eat with them on, saying that it helps move teeth into their proper positions. But there is just some food that’s not meant to get stuck inside plastic trays that are hugging the teeth with all their might. We all eat differently, so you’ll soon learn what you (and your eating companions) can handle. One thing for sure to stay away from, since they will make your trays yellow, is turmeric. Stay away from turmeric! The second day of my wearing experience found me at an Oktoberfest. After brushing my teeth and trays for the zillionth time in the public bathroom, I said forget it, I’m eating the Bavarian pretzel covered with mustard. I totally forgot that not only curry contains turmeric, but so does yellow mustard. I had yellow trays until it was time to swap them out for the next step, because nothing could clean them afterwards.
There are a few more tricks that have made this a positive experience for me, and you’ll discover your own Invisalign tricks too. The main things to remember:
- Wear Invisalign as much as possible.
- Keep your teeth and your trays clean.
- Limit snacking.
- Watch what you eat.
When it’s time to end your teeth straightening process, your smile just might be in the best shape ever. It takes time, but with patience and diligence you are sure to see the reward!