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One of the most important parts to remember about Invisalign aligners is that they need to be cleaned.

Although the aligners are meant to be disposed of every couple of weeks, they still require cleaning. Otherwise, you can have a very smelly or dirty set of aligners to put on every day.

Keep reading to find out the best practices for keeping your aligners clean.

Remember, when it comes to Invisalign, there’s a difference between cleaning and rinsing. Rinsing your aligners may make them appear slightly cleaner, but you haven’t done anything to address the unseen bacteria that can build up.

The following is the basic cleansing process listed on the Invisalign website for nightly cleaning:

  • Rinse your aligners with water every night.
  • Brush your aligners with a soft-bristled toothbrush (not the one you use to brush your teeth daily) and gentle, clear liquid soap to remove any debris or food particles that have accumulated during the day.
  • Rinse thoroughly after brushing.
  • Store in a protective case whenever they aren’t in use.

Cleaning accessories

Invisalign sells a “Steraligner” product with tray. Ingredients include rubbing alcohol and sodium bicarbonate, a natural antiseptic.

To clean your aligners, you place them in the tray and soak for 3 minutes. Rinse the sterilizing solution off, and brush with warm water.

Invisalign also sells a product called “cleaning crystals” that you dissolve in water and soak your aligners in.

These crystals contain cleansing agents, including sodium sulfate. These ingredients are similar to those of products used to clean retainers (but not denture cleaners) if you’re looking for a less expensive and more accessible alternative.

The basic cleaning method described above is often enough to keep your aligners clean at night — but it may not be the most thorough approach.

A study published in the journal Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology studied the pathogens on invisible aligners that were changed every 2 weeks for a 6-week period.

They studied three approaches:

  1. rinsing with water
  2. using effervescent tablets plus brushing
  3. brushing the aligners alone with toothpaste and a toothbrush

At the study’s conclusion, researchers determined that brushing and using effervescent tablets most effectively cleaned the aligners. They also determined that brushing was only slightly inferior to using the tablets.

You should clean your aligners on a nightly basis, usually at the same time you brush and floss your teeth. This helps to remove any built-up food, debris, and bacteria you naturally accumulate during the day.

You can also clean your Invisalign when they appear visibly dirty, such as if you accidentally drank something that wasn’t clear while wearing them or if you put them on too quickly after eating.

In addition to more extensive cleaning measures, you should also rinse your aligners each time you take them off.

Even though you change your aligners every 2 weeks, they’re still worth cleaning carefully.

Failure to do so can cause the aligners to appear discolored (making your teeth look yellow) or can cause bad breath. Plus, you’re continually exposing your teeth to built-up bacteria.

Some cleansers are simply too harsh or damaging to use on your Invisalign aligners. Examples of these include:

  • denture cleaners
  • mouthwashes, especially those that contain alcohol
  • scented soaps, which can easily start to taste bitter
  • toothpaste

You should also refrain from using cleansing soaps that have added dyes (such as blue, red, or green soaps). These can easily stain your Invisalign, which can make for a long 2 weeks of wearing.

Using a coarse bristle-brush — not a soft-bristle toothbrush — may also be too harsh on your Invisalign.

Following some best practices for taking care of your aligners can help keep them clean and bacteria-free. Here are some examples:

  • Always take out your aligners when eating. Otherwise, food particles can become built-up in the aligners or damage the aligners so they’re no longer effective.
  • Refrain from drinking anything other than water while your aligners are in. Otherwise, you risk staining or damaging them.
  • Refraining from using very hot water to clean the trays.
  • Store your aligners every time you aren’t using them in an airtight container. This reduces the likelihood you’ll lose them and protects them from bacteria.

Using these practices can help keep your aligners clean and your treatment most effective.

Invisalign is a popular way for people to straighten their teeth, but the aligners need regular cleaning in order to be effective.

Showing some care to your aligners can help keep them as clear and undetectable as possible. Because they’re made to be disposed of, they can’t usually hold up to harsh methods of cleaning, such as abrasive brushes or very hot water.

If you have a problem keeping your aligners clean, talk to your dentist. They can recommend other methods specific to your dental needs that can help you keep your mouth and aligners clean.