Living with Invisalign: Daily Life with Your Clear Aligners
One of the benefits our patients enjoy about living with Invisalign is that the treatment works well with a wide variety of people and lifestyles. If you’re a busy, on-the-go mom, or a student in school, Invisalign can be tailored to meet your specific needs and lifestyle.
With Invisalign, you won’t have to worry about big interruptions and changes in your day-to-day life, but there are a few minor ways treatment could change the way you speak or eat, for example. While Invisalign is pretty low-maintenance, there are a few areas where you’ll have to put in a little bit of work to ensure your treatment is progressing on track.
Physical Appearance and Speech
Invisalign’s biggest appeal to many patients is the nearly-invisible nature of the treatment. Since Invisalign aligners are clear and virtually unnoticeable, they go largely overlooked when talking or taking pictures, creating minimal, if any, change to your normal appearance. That’s not to say no one will notice your aligners, though. A small portion of people will inevitably notice them if they’re in close proximity to you. But unlike braces, their visibility is greatly reduced, which is an added bonus for patients who want a little extra confidence during their treatment.
It’s also important to note that the aligners do occupy a small amount of space in your mouth. This can create minor lisps when you’re talking, particularly when speaking quickly. Although most patients overcome this minor obstacle within a few hours or days, it can be a mild nuisance when wearing the aligners and draw attention to the fact that you’re wearing them to attentive observers, particularly if the aligners cause any noticeable speech changes.
Whether someone notices the appearance of your aligners, or how you might speak a little differently with them, we recommend taking Invisalign treatment in stride. If someone notices, you can tell them how excited you are about your new confident smile. More than likely they’ll be intrigued and impressed, mitigating any self-consciousness that you might’ve felt beforehand.
Aligner Cleanings and Oral Hygiene
Keeping up with good oral hygiene is especially important during Invisalign treatment. Along with keeping your teeth clean, your aligners require some cleaning too. Your Invisalign trays should be rinsed with lukewarm water before inserting them, and ideally immediately after removal as well. This will help wash off any bacteria, and keep saliva or plaque from drying on the trays. You can also choose to clean them with a fast-acting denture cleaner occasionally as well to ensure they are staying clean.
When going through an Invisalign treatment, you’ll also be brushing your teeth more frequently. If you eat or drink anything besides water, you’ll have to brush your teeth before inserting your aligner. This will not only protect your teeth from plaque and cavities, but will also help your tray stay as clean as possible too. Some patients find it a minor inconvenience to have to clean their teeth more frequently, but it not only leads to better hygiene habits, but many patients find their teeth become a shade or two whiter in the process from all the frequent brushing!
Wearing Your Aligners Constantly
You should begin your Invisalign treatment knowing that it’s not a part-time solution. The aligners must be worn whenever you are not eating, drinking fluids besides water, or brushing/flossing. The recommended minimum is 22 hours per day, and more is always better.
Anything less than 22 hours per day, particularly less than 20 hours per day, can lead to longer treatment times, and in some severe cases, additional correction and aligners being required to get back on track. This can also increase the cost of your treatment, as you are expected to have the discipline to wear the aligners properly as part of your treatment plan.
Luckily, most patients get into a rhythm and routine, and don’t have too much difficulty adhering to this requirement. The self-discipline required to stay on top of an Invisalign treatment is arguably its biggest downside, but many patients find the other benefits of Invisalign great enough to offset this slight issue.
Discomfort and Mouth Aches
Both Invisalign and traditional metal braces use the same basic principle to straighten teeth: constant pressure to gradually move them into the desired positions. Although they go about this in different ways, the result is the same. Unfortunately, so is the discomfort involved.
With Invisalign, the pressure and aches you feel will usually be worst when you put in a new aligner (or if you’ve spent significant time not wearing your aligner) as that is when the discrepancy between where your teeth currently are and where that particular aligner wants them to be is at its greatest. This usually decreases and can even subside completely as your teeth acclimate to that tray — then the cycle begins again when you progress to the next aligner.
If you find the discomfort painful, your orthodontist will often advise a mild painkiller, like Tylenol, upon putting in a new aligner for the first time. If the pain persists for a couple of days or gets worse, we recommended talking to your orthodontist to see if there are any underlying issues.
Although you can eat and drink whatever you want with Invisalign, unlike with traditional braces, there is still a catch. You will need to remove your aligners whenever you eat or drink anything that isn’t water. This is for two reasons.
Your aligners must be removed for the integrity of the aligners themselves. They can be damaged by chewing food or by coming into contact with very hot beverages. If an aligner is damaged, you should call your orthodontist right away. They will likely have you try to put in the next aligner. If it fits, they’ll progress your treatment that way. If it doesn’t fit, they’ll likely have you put in your last retainer while they order a replacement one for you.
More importantly though, removing aligners when eating and drinking is largely for the health of your teeth. Leaving your aligners in traps food and fluids in the aligners up against your teeth and gums, increasing the risk of dental hygiene related issues. So if it isn’t water, take them out — no exceptions.
Invisalign comes with many benefits. From a virtually-invisible treatment, to being able to enjoy food and beverages without restrictions, life with Invisalign isn’t too different than life without it. Whether you have more questions about day-to-day living with Invisalign or just want to find out if it’s right for you, we invite you to come in for a free consultation, and we will help you out any way we can!