What every clear aligner patient should know
The thought of undertaking something unknown to us is usually far worse than the act itself, and when it comes to teeth, studies show a direct correlation between expectations and anxiety/fear.
Even though clear aligners offer people the chance to create a great smile without the inconvenience and hassle of conventional braces, many people are still naturally wary. If this is something you can relate to, then don’t worry! Here are some facts about invisible aligners, plus some clear aligner tips and tricks to help you on your journey.
You’ll be wearing your aligners a lot!
While removable clear aligners are designed to be taken out every time you eat or drink, the fact remains that when cases don’t go to plan, it’s usually because they haven’t been worn sufficiently. Did you know, for example, that to get the best out of your invisible aligners, they should be worn for a minimum of 20 hours a day? (The first 48 hours following a change of aligner is key since this is when most of the tooth movement occurs, so try and keep your aligners in for at least 20 hours during this time).
With this in mind, you’ll get used to watching the clock while you’re eating to ensure that you don’t go over the time limit, and strangely enough, many patients love the challenge and the satisfaction they get from eating all their meals with time to spare.
Pro Tip: After 48 hours, try setting yourself a time limit of 30 minutes for breakfast and 45 minutes each for lunch and dinner— this way, you’ll have 1-2 hours a day in the bank, just in case you really need a break.
Speaking of foods…
Wearing clear aligners makes you question your diet — it’s true! While one of the advantages of removable clear aligners is that foods aren’t restricted, there are some eating habits that you may need/want to question. If, for instance, you’re inclined to regularly reach for candy bars or chocolate cookies to get you over the mid-afternoon slump, you’ll be more inclined to think, “Can I be bothered to take my aligners out again and brush afterward?” Inevitably it might make you think twice. On a positive note, clear aligners could steer you toward a healthier lifestyle with better food choices, and let’s face it… who doesn’t want that?
Pro Tip: Learn to love water because in truth that’s the only beverage you can drink with your aligners in.
Practice makes perfect
Although clear braces are hard to spot, it’s possible that someone might hear (a small) difference when you first wear them! According to a study from 2005, 7% develop a small lisp when they first wear aligners simply because they aren’t used to them. However, the same study also found that 83% got used to their aligners within one-two weeks. So the key is to practice speaking with your aligners in place.
Clear aligner tips: The more you speak, the quicker any lisp is likely to vanish, so why not practice a few tongue twisters? Here are 150 of them to get you started.
You’ll be carrying a toothbrush around with you
Another pro tip is to carry a toothbrush wherever you go. The reason? Because each clear aligner tray can create a moist, warm space— kind of like a tropical rainforest for bacteria.
While saliva keeps the bacteria under control naturally, the trays block any saliva that would normally rinse teeth, so it’s highly important to brush teeth thoroughly every time you take your trays out to eat or drink. Oh… and don’t forget to brush your aligners too.
Speaking of bacteria… did you know that there are on average somewhere between 1000 and 100,000 bacteria living on each surface of the tooth containing somewhere between 100-200 different species?
A little discomfort is to be expected
While you wouldn’t expect clear aligner treatment to be painful, it isn’t realistic to assume that tooth movement won’t create any aches or pain whatsoever. In reality, according to one study, ~54% of patients tested felt mild to moderate discomfort. However, in most cases, it did wear off after two-three days of wearing their new aligner. In the meantime, any discomfort felt can normally be brought under control easily using over-the-counter painkillers like Ibuprofen or Aspirin.
Clear aligner tip: One thing you can do when your clear aligners are due to be changed (normally every week) is to make the switch just before going to bed. This way you’ll be asleep for those first few hours of discomfort while your teeth begin to adjust to life in your new aligner.
So that’s that! Now you know everything you need to know about clear aligners!
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