When undergoing orthodontic treatment with aligners, it’s crucial to maintain proper oral care to ensure the health of your teeth, gums and aligners themselves. Aligners are conveniently removable, allowing you to maintain your oral hygiene routine more easily compared to traditional braces. This article will discuss the basic oral care steps to follow when wearing aligners.

Brush thoroughly

Brushing is the base upon which your oral care is built. It is a fundamental part of oral hygiene and should not be taken lightly. This is especially true with aligners, which cover your teeth for up to 22 hours per day and can act as a haven for bacteria and debris.

Try to brush after every meal and snack to make sure food particles don’t get trapped between your teeth and the aligners. Brush for at least two minutes. A good trick is to divide the mouth into quadrants, allowing 30 seconds for each area. Brush the back and front of your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Pay close attention to your gum line. Plaque loves to proliferate in the nooks and crannies of your gums, and proper care for the gum line can stave off gum disease.

Floss daily

Even the best toothbrushes don’t get everything. Flossing daily is a key aspect of good oral hygiene. Use dental floss to slide between the teeth and dig lightly into the gums to get all the gunk possible out of the crevices. Hug the floss around each tooth and move up and down.

You can also use interdental brushes or floss picks to get even deeper into the teeth and gums for a more comprehensive cleaning experience. Finish it off with a water flosser, which shoots pressurized water between the teeth and gums, and you’ll be right as rain. 

Rinse your mouth

Consider rinsing your mouth after any food or non-water beverage. This will help remove any lingering particles and make brushing and flossing less of a hassle later on. Use water or mouthwash for a temporary cleaning. Rinse your aligners before putting them back in your mouth.

Avoid certain food and drink

Oral care doesn’t only include your routine in the bathroom. It also encompasses what you do with your daily living routine. Hard, sticky and chewy foods can linger on the teeth and harm the aligners when you put them back in. Coffee, tea, red wine and soda can stain both the teeth and the aligners, making them more visible in your mouth. Talk to your orthodontist about sticking to a diet aimed at good oral health. Such a diet may focus on soft, healthy foods and fewer staining beverages.

Clean your aligners

The importance of properly cleaning your aligners cannot be overstated. Think about it this way: would you put a dirty piece of plastic in your mouth in any other situation? Maintaining a clean aligner will keep your mouth healthy and clean and make the results worth what clear aligners cost.

Water, soap and toothpaste are a good basic start, but more is needed to give the aligners the deep cleaning they need. Talk to your orthodontist or do some research to determine which aligner cleaning products are the best options. Pay close attention to how these cleaning solutions could impact your aligners’ material.

Follow your orthodontist’s treatment plan

At the end of the day, your orthodontist knows best. When getting fitted for aligners, discuss a comprehensive treatment plan focusing on keeping your oral care in optimal shape. Follow the plan as closely as possible. Don’t be your own worst enemy! Listen to the professional and do everything they say.

Bottom line

Oral care is important for everyone, but even more so for people with aligners. The plastic sits in your mouth for up to 22 hours per day and represents a breeding ground for bacteria and plaque. Brush with intention twice daily, floss every day, eat properly and clean your retainer in accordance with best practices. Be open and transparent with your orthodontist, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. These steps will help you keep your smile looking radiant.