As you age, your teeth naturally shift, even if you’ve had braces at any point in your life. While you may not notice, your Raleigh Dentist is paying attention. We notice when your jar line changes, if you’ve been grinding your teeth or if your teeth are starting to move. As such, we may recommend the use of a nightguard or Invisalign treatment.
Invisalign is a great way to straighten your teeth and correct oral health changes that occur as we age, but how do you continue to care for your teeth during Invisalign treatment? Today we’ll discuss 6 ways to continue caring for your teeth during Invisalign treatment.
We often recommend Invisalign as one approach to straightening your teeth, correcting alignment issues and achieving a beautiful smile. While we do not offer this service directly, your Raleigh Dentist is happy to refer you to a local orthodontist for treatment.
If you choose to invest in Invisalign treatment, you will be responsible for wearing the aligners at least 22 hours every day. These aligners are clear plastic and are designed to cover your exposed teeth all the way to the edge of your gum line. As such, one of the unfortunate consequences of Invisalign (similar to traditional braces) is the increased risk of cavities and exposure to gum disesase. While that risk is somewhat less because Invisalign aligners can be removed so that you can brush and floss without issue, those plastic barriers do prevent saliva from coating your teeth and gums while being worn. Saliva naturally protects our teeth and gums from cavity-causing bacteria and the bacterial build-up that causes gum disease.
Additionally, for some patients, Invisalign aligners can also increase your risk for TMJ problems. Because the thickness of the aligner plastic can change the way your teeth bite together, it can impact the joints in your jaw and cause TMJ dysfunction.
All that said, what can you do to make sure that your oral health (mouth, teeth, gums, and jaw) stays healthy during Invisalign treatment?
1. Maintain Oral Hygiene Routine at Home
Whether you choose to invest in Invisalign treatment or not, your Raleigh Dentist encourages you to maintain great oral hygiene routines at home, in between professional dental cleanings. However, when you are wearing Invisalign aligners, that oral hygiene routine becomes even more important. This means brushing 2-3 times a day following meals and before bedtime. It also means flossing daily to remove plaque and food debris in between your teeth. Not flossing will “trap” plaque and food debris in place while you wear your aligners which can put you at even more risk of cavities and gum disease.
2. Continue Professional Dental Cleaning Schedule
If your Raleigh Dentist has referred you to a local orthodontist, you will likely have ongoing appointments with your orthodontist every 4-6 weeks to evaluate your progress. These appointments DO NOT replace your professional dental cleanings or a full dental check-up. In fact, it is even more important to continue seeing your Raleigh Dentist during Invisalign treatment such that your hygienist can give a proper cleaning and your dentist can check for any warning signs of changes in your oral health or make recommendations to lower gum disease risk as you continue treatment.
3. Only Drink Water
One of the things our patients love about Invisalign is that you get so accustomed to wearing the plastic aligners that you almost forget they are even in your mouth. However, this ease of use can also lead to drinking a beverage that could jeopardize the work that the aligners are trying to accomplish. Anything you drink will seep underneath the aligners to contact the teeth. Without saliva to rinse the teeth, you are increasing your exposure to cavities or gum disease. Therefore, you should absolutely avoid anything that is acidic or contains sugar unless you plan to remove your aligners and brush your teeth immediately. Better yet, just stick to plain ol’ water.
4. Rinse Well Before Inserting Aligners
In an ideal world, each time you take out your aligners to eat, you should brush and floss before re-inserting your aligners. However, let’s be honest – that’s not always feasible, especially during the middle of the day if you’re away from home (business meeting, out for lunch, etc). Rather than leaving your aligners out until you can brush and floss, you should rinse your mouth out well with water (plain, not sparkling) to remove any loose plaque or food debris before putting your aligners back in your mouth. Once you’re back at home, make sure to brush well.
5. Use Supplemental Oral Hygiene Products as Directed by Your Raleigh Dentist
Oftentimes, in collaboration with your orthodontist, your Raleigh Dentist may recommend using certain oral hygiene products during your Invisalign treatment. Considering that your teeth and gums are much more vulnerable, make sure that you only use these products as directed by your dentist. Following the recommended instructions will help you maintain your oral health while Invisalign works to straighten your smile.
The most commonly recommended product during Invisalign treatment is fluoride mouthwash. You should plan to swish with a fluoride mouthwash after brushing and flossing BEFORE you insert your aligners. What this does is “trap” the fluoride on the teeth. Unlike sugar, when fluoride is trapped on the teeth, it can strengthen and harden the teeth. Another commonly recommended product during Invisalign treatment is prescription strength toothpaste or gel.
6. Report Any TMJ Symptoms to Your Raleigh Dentist
According to the Mayo Clinic, the temporomandibular joint, also known as TMJ serves as a sliding hinge that connects your jawbone to your skull. These joints (one on each side) can cause pain for a variety of reasons including genetics, but can also flare up as a result of Invisalign treatment. As such, it’s important that you are aware of the symptoms and report any signs of TMJ symptoms you may experience to your Raleigh dentist so she can take action to relieve the pain and keep those joints healthy. These symptoms include:
- Pain or tenderness in your jaw
- Aching ear or pain near the ear
- Clicking or popping sound when you open/close your mouth or try to chew
- Ringing in the ears
- Jaws “locking” open or close – unable to open your mouth or close your teeth together
If you experience any of these symptoms while in the middle of Invisalign treatment, stop wearing the aligners immediately and give your Raleigh dentist a call. She may advise you to just wear one at a time first to see if your symptoms improve. Alternatively, you may need to switch to traditional braces.
Do You Have More Questions About How to Care for Your Teeth During Invisalign Treatment?
If you are considering Invisalign treatment and you’re looking for a Raleigh dentist, give Dr. Katherine E. Garrett a call to schedule your appointment. New patients are always welcome, and we are proud to provide dental care for your entire family. Don’t wait until you have a dental emergency, call our office today!