Will My Aligner Cause Dry Mouth?

Will My Aligner Cause Dry Mouth?
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Will My Aligner Cause Dry Mouth?Clinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
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Table of Contents

  1. Causes of Aligner Dry Mouth
  2. How to Avoid Dry Mouth
  3. Do Aligners Cause Bad Breath?
  4. Frequently Asked Questions
  5. References

Aligners are clear orthodontic appliances that are effective at straightening teeth and remaining within the dental ark. According to Fortune Business Insights, less than 20 percent of the people who sought orthodontic treatment received clear aligners. 

People who want aligners more than traditional braces do so because:

  • They have an almost invisible appearance
  • You can customize them to fit an individual’s mouth
  • Aligners are easy to clean because they are easily removable
  • Require a shorter time of treatment than traditional braces

But aligners are a potential cause of dry mouth. That’s because they are foreign objects that can irritate gums and causes swelling. Your mouth is also likely to produce less saliva as a result, causing dry mouth.

What Causes Aligner Dry Mouth?

According to the Mayo Clinic, dry mouth (also known as xerostomia) stems from a low supply of saliva, whose function is to keep the mouth wet as it fights off bacteria.

Causes of a low saliva production include aging, the consumption of certain foods, some prescription medications and habits such as smoking, sleeping with your mouth open and wearing aligners.
tips to avoid aligner dry mouth

Overall, aligners are considered appliances that can improve one’s periodontal health. Invented by two Stanford University students who came up first Invisalign system in 1997, aligners make the potential dry-mouth cause list because of how the human body reacts to them once they’re in place.

Your body treats aligner trays as foreign objects, mostly because they can cause mouth irritations and gum-swelling. Consequently, your salivary glands will secrete less saliva to minimize irritation, causing the mouth to dry.

Because aligner trays cover teeth for up to 20 hours a day or more, oral care specialists advise that you remain vigilant about improving your oral hygiene routine. Improved oral care can eliminate complications such as cavities, bad breath, yeast infections, chewing and swallowing problems caused by dry mouth.

How to Avoid Aligner Dry Mouth and Bad Breath

In the event of dry mouth and bad breath, take the following steps:

Drink more water.
Drinking plenty of water will help keep your mouth fresh, lubricated, as well as coax the salivary glands to discharge more saliva. Regular water intake will also benefit your overall health.
Improve your oral hygiene.
Always floss and brush your teeth after every meal and after taking a liquid other than water. Additionally, clean your tongue as it is a fertile ground for harmful bacteria to multiply.
Remove aligners while eating.
Eating while wearing aligners will promote the build-up of bacteria. Taking colored drinks will also discolor the trays and provide food for the bacteria. Moreover, don’t eat or drink fluids other than water while wearing aligners.
Abstain from smoking and limit your caffeine intake.
Smoking and caffeine are two major causes of dry mouth (and bad breath). Switching from smoking to vaping is not an effective alternative for smoking because it brings a separate set of issues. You can still drink your coffee and tea, just don’t drink too much.
Keep your aligners clean.
If you’re battling bad breath, the biggest offender could be the aligners. Clean the aligners spotlessly after every meal using lukewarm water. Avoid using hot water as it will warp the aligners. Be sure to always keep your aligners clean.
Use mouthwash regularly.
Mouthwash will give you a fresh minty scent for several hours. If your mouthwash dies not improve your breath, it could point to a more serious issue so seek advice from your orthodontist or dentist.

Do Aligners Cause Bad Breath?

Invisalign recommends wearing the aligner trays for at least 20 to 22 hours a day. Covering your teeth with plastic for extended hours provides a conducive environment for bacteria accumulation.

Subsequently, there’s a good chance you will start experiencing bad breath, especially if you have poor oral hygiene, due to the build-up of leftover food particles (plaque).

If you maintain good oral hygiene by flossing and brushing your teeth and the aligners after every meal, there’s little chance of catching bad breath.

Invisalign also recommends changing the aligners every one to two weeks or as your dentist directs.

FAQs

Can aligners make your mouth dry?
Aligners can lead to dry mouth because they may create gum irritation and swelling. Your mouth will produce less saliva to minimize the reaction, resulting in dry mouth. You may also develop other complications such as chewing, swallowing food, and speaking.
Do aligners make you thirsty?
When you first receive your aligner, your mouth will treat it as a foreign object and produce more saliva in reaction. This extra saliva production may cause dehydration, making you feel thirsty. It is not a serious issue, though, so drink water as you usually would. Keep in mind that too much water will stop the saliva from conducting its primary job of keeping bacteria in check.

References

Adverse clinical events reported during Invisalign treatment: Analysis of the MAUDE database. (June 2017). American Association of Orthodontists.

Periodontal health during clear aligners treatment: a systematic review. (October 2015). National Library of Medicine. 

Dry Mouth. (February 2018). Mayo Clinic.

For the Dental Patient: Bad breath - Causes and tips for controlling it. (September 2012). American Dental Association.

Clear Aligners Market Size. (Retrieved December 2021). Fortune Business Insights.

Frequently Asked Questions about Invisalign. (September 2021). Invisalign.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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