How to Clean and Care for an Invisalign Retainer

If you've embarked on the orthodontic journey known as Invisalign, then you've been given a series of clear aligners that will guide your teeth to perfection. The aligners look like retainers (which are used after orthodontic treatment is completed to retain the position of teeth). The Invisalign aligners literally align the teeth.

Properly caring for Invisalign aligners is important in order to obtain the best results and avoid costly replacement aligners.

clear braces invisalign
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Cleaning Your Invisalign Aligner

Caring for an Invisalign aligner is easy and only takes a few minutes. You should get into the habit of cleaning your aligner every time you brush your teeth. In order to properly clean an Invisalign aligner, you will need a toothbrush or retainer brush.

Follow these steps:

  1. Rinse the Invisalign aligner under lukewarm water that isn't too hot or too cold.
  2. With a soft-bristled toothbrush or retainer brush, using small, circular motions, gently brush the entire retainer, both inside and out.
  3. Once you have completely brushed the inside and outside of the Invisalign aligner, rinse it again under lukewarm water.
  4. Carefully inspect the aligner for any calcium (tartar) build-up. Just like your teeth, aligners are susceptible to tartar buildup. It appears as a cloudy, white film on the aligner that is hard to remove with a toothbrush.
  5. If you do notice calcium buildup, soak the aligner in a denture or aligner cleaning solution according to the product's instructions. Invisalign makes the Invisalign Cleaning System that is designed specifically for Invisalign aligners, but any denture or retainer cleaning solution will typically get the job done.
  6. Once you are finished cleaning your Invisalign aligner, you can place it back into your mouth or in a case to dry.

You should not use toothpaste on your aligners. Toothpaste is abrasive and can cause scratching of the aligner, increasing plaque and tartar build-up,

Proper Care Techniques

You should clean your aligner every time you brush your teeth and/or floss. Regular cleansing is only a component of properly caring for your Invisalign aligner.

Invisalign aligners can be removed to eat. Any plaque or food particles that are stuck inside the aligner or in your teeth can potentially lead to tooth decay and cause the aligner to smell, so keep it as clean as possible.

Make sure that the cleansing solution you use does not contain any harsh ingredients that could corrode the aligner. It's best to check with your orthodontist and ask for their recommendations.

Do not soak your Invisalign aligner in mouthwash. Invisalign aligners are transparent, and because most mouthwashes contain added color, the aligner can absorb the color from the mouthwash, leaving you with a tinted aligner. Also, mouthwashes that contain alcohol can also distort your aligner.

Moving to the Next Set of Retainers

When you are finished with it, thoroughly clean the previous aligner and store it in its case. There is a chance that you will need to wear it again. Ensuring that your Invisalign aligner is stored away clean and bacteria-free will eliminate any odor and residue left on the aligner.

Complications and Problems

People usually experience less discomfort with Invisalign than traditional tooth aligners (brackets, bands, and archwear), but if you do experience pain, talk with your orthodontist.

It is important to note that because Invisalign aligners are constructed from resin (plastic), you should avoid rinsing them with warm or hot water. Water that is too warm can distort the aligner's shape, causing it to become ill-fitting. If you have used warm or hot water to clean your aligner in the past, bring it to your orthodontist to ensure that it still fits correctly.

Drinking coffee or tea can result in staining and distortion of the plastic.

Perhaps the most common and expensive mistake is forgetting to put your aligner back in your mouth after brushing or eating. You may want to come up with some sort of reminder system to help you remember for those days when you are busy or distracted.

A Word From Verywell

Invisalign aligners can be a great way to perfect your smile in an almost invisible way.

Taking the time to properly clean your aligner each and every time you brush, avoiding liquids that can distort or stain your aligner, and developing a system to remember to put your aligner back in your mouth after eating or brushing can help ensure you get the results you want with the least hassle and expense.

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  1. Levrini L, Mangano A, Margherini S. ATP bioluminometers analysis on the surfaces of removable orthodontic aligners after the use of different cleaning methodsInt J Dent. 2016;2016:5926941. doi:10.1155/2016/5926941

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