How to Care for Invisalign® Clear Aligners

Clear aligners have rapidly gained popularity in orthodontics due to their discreet appearance, convenience, and effectiveness in straightening teeth. Unlike traditional metal braces, clear aligners are virtually invisible. This makes them an attractive option for adults and teens who do not want the “metal mouth” look. Clear aligners are also removable, making it easier to maintain your oral hygiene and provides the freedom to eat without dietary restrictions.

Guide to Caring for Clear Aligners

Properly caring for your Invisalign aligners is important to ensure your treatment works effectively and the aligners last throughout the process. Maintaining a consistent cleaning routine helps prevent the buildup of bacteria and plaque, which can lead to oral health issues such as cavities and gum disease.

Here are some steps in caring for clear aligners:

  • Daily Cleaning: Rinse your aligners with lukewarm water and gently brush them with a soft toothbrush to remove any debris.
  • Avoid Hot Water: Never use hot water to clean aligners, because it can warp the plastic and affect the fit.
  • Proper Storage: Always store aligners in their designated case when not in use to avoid loss or damage.
  • Avoid Staining: Remove your aligners before eating or drinking anything other than water to prevent discoloration.
  • Regular Inspections: Frequently inspect your aligners for any cracks or damage and promptly report any issues to your orthodontist.


By following these guidelines, you can maintain the clarity and functionality of your clear aligners. This leads to more successful orthodontic outcomes.

Daily Cleaning Routine for Clear Aligners

  • Morning Care: Clean your aligners after waking because bacteria and plaque can accumulate on them overnight. Start your day by removing your aligners and rinsing them with lukewarm water. Then, use a soft toothbrush to gently brush the aligners and remove any buildup that occurred while you slept.
  • Nightly Care: Before going to bed, clean your aligners so they stay hygienic and transparent throughout the night. Rinse them with lukewarm water and brush them gently to remove any food particles or plaque.
  • After Meals: Rinse your mouth and aligners after eating to prevent staining and to maintain oral hygiene. Food particles and sugars left on your teeth can become trapped between the aligners and your teeth, which can lead to plaque buildup and potential tooth decay.

Cleaning Techniques & Solutions for Clear Aligners

  • Soap & Water: Using a mild soap and water to clean your clear aligners effectively removes bacteria and debris without causing abrasion. Toothpaste often contains abrasive ingredients that can scratch and dull the aligners, while mild soap provides a gentle, thorough cleaning. Mix a small amount of mild, fragrance-free soap with lukewarm water and use a soft toothbrush to gently scrub the aligners.
  • Dedicated Cleaners: There are several cleaning solutions available specifically designed for clear aligners and retainers. Products like Retainer Brite, Invisalign Cleaning Crystals, and Steraligner are formulated to clean and disinfect aligners without causing damage. These solutions are easy to use, typically involving soaking the aligners in the solution for a specified amount of time.
  • Avoiding Harsh Chemicals: Avoid using harsh chemicals, such as bleach, to clean your aligners. Products like bleach can be too strong for the aligner material, causing it to weaken or discolor. Always opt for gentle cleaning solutions and avoid any products that could compromise the effectiveness of your aligners.

Proper Storage for Clear Aligners

Always store your aligners in the provided case when not in use. Wrapping aligners in tissues or napkins is risky because they can easily be mistaken for trash and accidentally thrown away. Also, tissues and napkins do not offer any protection against physical damage, which can lead to the aligners becoming bent, cracked, or otherwise compromised. The provided case is designed to keep aligners secure and clean to prevent unnecessary loss or damage.

Best Practices for Wearing Clear Aligners

  • Wear Time: Following the recommended wear time of 20-22 hours per day is crucial for treatment effectiveness. Consistently wearing your aligners ensures that they apply continuous pressure on the teeth and guides them into their desired positions according to your customized treatment plan. Your aligners should only be removed for eating, drinking (except water), brushing, and flossing. Removing your aligners for extended periods can delay progress and potentially lengthen the overall treatment duration.
  • Avoiding Certain Beverages: While wearing aligners, it’s important to avoid drinks like coffee or red wine, as these can stain the aligners and make them more noticeable and less clear. Hot beverages can warp the aligners and affect their fit & effectiveness. Sugary and acidic drinks can get trapped between the aligners and teeth, leading to an increased risk of tooth decay & enamel erosion. To maintain the clarity and integrity of the aligners, stick to drinking water while they are in place and remove them for any other beverages.

What to Do If Aligners Become Damaged

  • Assessing the Damage: If your aligners become damaged, it’s important to assess the extent of the damage. Minor cracks may allow you to continue wearing them until your next scheduled change. However, if the aligners are significantly bent, broken, or no longer fit properly, then you should switch to the previous set to maintain progress. Wearing a distorted aligner can hinder treatment and cause discomfort.
  • Contacting Your Orthodontist: Seeking professional advice is crucial in case of aligner damage. Contact your orthodontist immediately to discuss the issue and receive guidance on the next steps. Your orthodontist may recommend wearing a previous set, provide a replacement, or adjust your treatment plan as necessary. Prompt communication ensures that your treatment remains on track and minimizes potential setbacks.

Ready to Start Your Journey to a Healthy and Confident Smile?

Adopting these best practices for clear aligner care is essential to ensure a smooth and effective treatment journey. By following a daily cleaning routine, using appropriate cleaning techniques, and properly storing your aligners, you can maintain their clarity and functionality. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation and learn more about achieving a beautiful, healthy smile with clear aligners. Let Smile Doctors by DN Orthodontics guide you through every step of your orthodontic journey!

FAQs about Clear Aligner Care

Q: Can I brush my clear aligners with toothpaste?

A: It is recommended to avoid using toothpaste because certain abrasive types can scratch the aligners and cause clouding. Instead, use a mild, fragrance-free soap and a soft toothbrush to clean them thoroughly.

Q: How often should I replace my aligner case?

A: Regularly inspect your aligner case for cleanliness and structural integrity. While there’s no set timeframe for replacement, consider getting a new case if it becomes damaged, overly dirty, or shows signs of wear. A clean case helps keep your aligners sanitary and safe from contamination.

Q: Is it okay to eat with my clear aligners in?

A: No, it is best to remove your aligners during meals to prevent damage and staining. Eating with aligners can cause them to crack or warp, and food particles can get trapped, leading to potential oral hygiene issues. Always take out your aligners before eating and rinse them before putting them back in.

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