If you have unsightly and misaligned teeth, then you may want to think about straightening methods so the teeth look more appealing. Braces are commonly used to force the teeth into a better position, and so are clear aligners. Aligners are ideal for adults and for mature teenagers who are able to responsibly care for their tooth straightening devices. If you want clear aligners, then you should know that they need to be both used and cared for properly. Not only will this help with the straightening, but your teeth will remain healthy as well. Unfortunately, you may make some mistakes along the way that you are unaware of. Keep reading to find out about a few of these mistakes and how you can avoid them.
Cleaning Aligners With Toothpaste
Your cosmetic dentist will likely inform you to leave your clear aligners in your mouth for at least 20 to 22 hours a day for two full weeks per set. This is necessary so the teeth will shift based on the pressure forced against the teeth. However, you can and should remove the retainers from the mouth when you eat or drink any fluids other than water. This is necessary to keep plaque from building on the interior of the aligners. Since bacteria in the mouth feed on the plaque, this helps to stop cavities from forming. It is also extremely helpful to clean the interiors of the braces before they are set in the mouth again. Since bacteria are only about four or five micrometers thick, they can slip behind the retainers along with some saliva and they must be cleared away.
Aligners should be cleaned thoroughly, but they should never be cleaned with regular toothpaste. Clear braces are made out of a thermoplastic material that is considered quite hard. The plastic is also elastic though, and this means that it is bendable. It can also be scratched and toothpastes contain abrasive agents, like silica and aluminum oxide, that can scuff up your aligners. The aligners will then be more visible, and the scrapes will be able to hold plaque and bacteria that can cause dental cavities to form.
Correct Cleaning Practices
Instead of using toothpaste, consider purchasing a cleaning solution that is specially designed to clean the aligners. You can also soak the plastic retainers in a diluted solution of vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. Both of these substances can kill bacteria, so place about three tablespoons of either liquid in a full cup of water. Soak your retainers in the fluid for the entire time you are eating or drinking, or use a toothbrush to gently scrub the retainers. Make sure to rinse them thoroughly with water and place them back in your mouth when you are done. You can also use a denture cleaning paste for the aligners, since these pastes are meant to gently scrub porcelain and resin dentures that can scratch easily too.
Smoking With Aligners
Most dentists will absolutely tell you to quit smoking for the sake of your oral health. Smoking can cause issues with the way the gums and jawbone form to the teeth. The habit can cause the glands in your mouth to swell, and this will reduce the amount of saliva that can rinse away food and microorganisms. Smoking also restricts blood flow through the body, and the gums are likely to deteriorate in the process. This leads to gum disease.
Smoking also stains the teeth, because the tar in the smoke attaches to them and turns them brown. Most people know this, but you may not know that the same stains can appear on your clear aligners. When this happens, the aligners will not be invisible any more, and the aesthetic value of the aligners is one of the biggest reasons why they are chosen for tooth straightening.
Not only will the aligners become stained, but smoking during the straightening process can cause gingivitis or gum disease to worsen. In most cases, clear aligners are formed with a small lip that sits close to the gum line. If gums start to swell, then the tissues may be trapped under the plastic retainers. Bacteria will be trapped as well, and the saliva will be less likely to reach the microorganisms. Saliva usually washes away the bacteria, but the microorganisms will be able to multiply in an unchecked manner without much of the fluid to force the bacteria away from the soft tissues. Some people may experience severe gum bleeding and intense soreness along the gums when this happens.
While it is possible to remove your clear aligners every time you smoke, this will not assist you in keeping your gums in good health. Also, you may not be able to keep your aligners in for 20 to 22 hours a day if you remove them while you smoke and when you eat. It is better to quit smoking completely before you start the dental straightening process to reduce complication risks.