How to Clean Your Teeth Aligners With Ease
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Table of Contents
- Cleaning Your Aligners
- Recommended Cleaning Agents
- Alternative Protection Methods
- Frequently Asked Questions
Cleaning your aligners isn't just smart. It's recommended by almost every oral health expert out there.
Your mouth is home to a whopping 700 species of microbes. Some help to improve your health. But others secrete plaque that can harm your teeth and cloud up your aligners.
Cleaning is crucial, but you'll need to follow guidelines carefully. Clean the devices with the wrong tools or in the wrong way, and you could cause more harm than good.
Clean your aligners in a few easy steps.
You don’t need fancy tools to clean your aligners. First and foremost, it’s key to rinse your aligners under cool (not hot!) water when you take them out. This prevents residue build up, and cloudy or discolored aligners.
If you have a bottle of our BrightByte™ whitener/aligner cleaner, it’s the best way to keep the aligners clean and fresh on the go. Simply squirt a dime-sized amount in your aligners, top and bottom, each time you replace them. Aligners should be worn only after brushing teeth whenever possible -- BrightByte does not replace basic oral hygiene. The next-best way to clean your aligners would be to mix 50% vinegar and 50% water, and to allow the aligners to soak in the solution for about 20-30 minutes. Then rinse them off, before wearing them again.
Using anything else on the aligners, such as a toothbrush and toothpaste, can cause little scratches over time that trap bacteria within the aligner. We want to make sure the aligners remain as clean as possible throughout your treatment, so keeping a solution like this on-hand in case you’re out of BrightByte is perfect!
Don't use these tools on your aligners.
Read magazine articles and entertainment blogs, and you might walk away believing that you need to invest in cleaning solutions for your aligners. While it's true that some experts recommend cleaning agents for aligners, these tools aren't always necessary. And some can harm your aligners in nasty ways.
Steer clear of tools such as:
- Toothbrushes. Toothbrush and toothpaste can cause little scratches over time that trap bacteria within the aligner.
- Toothpaste. Since they are made to clean the hard, tough, enamel surface of your teeth, most toothpastes are much too abrasive for polymers used in aligners.
- Soap. Detergents can leave an awful taste in your mouth, and they're not made for digestion.
- Denture crystals. These fizzy powders can damage and cloud up your clear trays. Mouthwash. Dyes in these liquids can stain your aligners.
- Hot water. High temperatures can bend your trays, and that means they won't fit into your mouth and move your teeth effectively.
Some aligner companies send home tooth whitening products that slide into your aligners to help brighten your teeth. Anything a company sends along with your trays is safe to use. But anything else could harm your investment in your smile.
3 more ways to protect your teeth.
Wearing aligners is a proven way to improve your oral health. In fact, researchers found that after wearing aligners for six months, people tended to brush more often, and they had less plaque on their teeth.
To protect your teeth:
Brush Every Day
Floss At Least Once A Day
Use Dental Rinse
Cut Back On Sugar In Your Diet
Aligner cleaning FAQs.
How often should you clean your aligners?
You should clean your aligners once per day. While this may not seem like enough since your dentist recommends you brush your teeth between two and three times per day, remember that most people wear their aligners for about 22 hours per day. If you opt for overnight wear, or about 10 hours per day, you only need to clean the aligners once — when you take them out.
You should also rinse your aligners in cool water whenever you take them out to eat or drink something. This helps reduce the residue that can build up inside the aligner. It also prevents your aligners from getting stained or cloudy.
Can you clean your aligner with toothpaste?
No, you should not use toothpaste as an aligner cleaner. Since you use toothpaste on your teeth, this might seem counterintuitive, but toothpaste can warp the aligner.
Many toothpastes contain tiny grit, which helps to scrub stains and plaque off your teeth. But this grit can damage the aligner with microscopic scratches. Scrubbing your aligners with your toothbrush can also damage the plastic, allowing bacteria to collect inside the scratches and increasing the risk of tooth decay.
Even though you will only wear your aligner for about two weeks, preventing it from warping is important. This ensures you get the most benefits possible from each aligner.
Other solutions you should not use to clean your aligners include:
- Mouthwash, especially those with alcohol.
- Baking soda.
- Denture cleaners or retainer cleaners.
- Regular soap, especially soaps with perfume or scents.
Can I just leave my aligners in water to clean them?
No, using only plain water to clean your aligners once per day does not clean them thoroughly enough.
At byte, we recommend using a solution of 50% vinegar and 50% pure water. Leave your clear aligners to soak for 20 to 30 minutes before putting them back in. White vinegar is effective at killing many microbes, so this can keep your aligners clear and bright for the two weeks you need them.
You should also take your aligners out when you eat a meal or drink something like coffee that might stain them. When you do, rinse them off with just water after you take them out, and be sure to brush your teeth before putting the aligners back in.
Can I rinse my clear aligners in hot or boiling water to clean them?
No, using water that is warmer than room temperature can warp the plastic of the aligner. Only use cool water to clean or rinse your aligners.
Warm or hot water can warp the aligner, even in minor ways that you may not notice but could prevent them from being effective at aligning your teeth. You should also be careful of drinking hot beverages or eating hot foods while you have your aligners in.
Will I get cleaning instructions with my clear aligner trays?
Mouth Microbes: The Helpful and the Harmful. (May 2019). National Institutes of Health.
What You Need to Clean Your Retainer, According to Experts. (May 2019). The New York Times Magazine.
The Dynamics of the Oral Microbiome and Oral Health Among Patients Receiving Clear Aligner Orthodontic Treatment. (August 2019). Oral Diseases.
Brushing Your Teeth. American Dental Association.
The True Story of Why You Get Cavities, According to a Billion Microbes. (March 2017). University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry.
Frequently Asked Questions. Byte.