There are several reasons as to why people opt for Invisalign over metal braces. However, one main reason is that Invisalign trays are clear and, therefore, invisible. However, for some reason, your trays could get stained and appear brown or yellow. At best, this is unsightly. At worst, staining could mean your trays are unhygienic and could provide a medium for bacterial growth. Therefore, you must clean your trays every day.
Most patients will only wear a set of aligners for 2-3 weeks before the trays need to be changed. However, this is still enough time to stain them.
Why would your trays stain?
- Wearing them before brushing your teeth. This will cause the transference of food materials from your teeth to the inside of the trays.
- Failing to remove them before eating and/or drinking beverages such as tea, sodas, and coffee.
In the event your trays are stained, what should you do?
- Start by Religiously Brushing Your Teeth.
Since you are supposed to wear Invisalign for 20-22 hours a day, it is inevitable that food particles are going to get trapped in your teeth. Always use a toothpaste and a right toothbrush to thoroughly yet gently brush your teeth at least twice a day. In case you are outdoors and without a toothbrush, give your mouth a good rinse before you wear the trays back on.
You can use both professional and homemade soaking solutions to remove staining.
Some dental offices have professional soaking bath kits that will both kill bacteria and remove tartar, plaque, or any other kind of staining. These kits use exclusive soluble crystals that dislodge bacteria and other particles through vibration while, simultaneously safely bleaching your trays. The kits are the most effective and safest method of cleaning your trays, although not particularly necessary.
Alternatively, you can make fairly easy soaking solutions at home that will clean your trays in 2 steps.
Measure equal parts (50/50) lukewarm water and hydrogen peroxide. Place your trays inside the solution for around 30 minutes. Hydrogen peroxide does not remove staining, but it kills bacteria. Rinse the solution off with cold water.
After this process, make another solution with equal parts lukewarm water and distilled white vinegar. This solution has bleaching properties. Soak the trays for about 30 minutes. This will help remove any staining and tartar/plaque buildup in/on your aligners. Rinse the trays under cold water while brushing them with a soft toothbrush.
This is an overall easier and faster method of preventing staining as long as it is done frequently, preferably twice a day. Use a soft toothbrush and some of your regular toothpaste. Gently brush the trays as you would your teeth with a particular focus on visible food particles or staining. Then, rinse off the trays with cold/lukewarm water and then pat them dry with a sterile paper towel. Most importantly, ensure you brush your teeth before you wear the back on.
Prevention is Better than Cure
Water is pretty much all you are allowed to consume with your trays on. For any other meal or drink, remove the trays before you indulge, and brush/rinse/floss before you put the trays back on.
For homemade soaking kits, ask your orthodontist whether it is safe to add some over-the-counter whitening solutions for your trays.
As a general rule of thumb, DO NOT use hot water, mouthwash, or denture cleaner to clean your trays as they may be too harsh for the plastic material.
Check out our before & after gallery!