CONGRATULATIONS! Your orthodontic treatment has begun. With proper care, together we will create a beautiful, healthy smile. While patients generally feel that treatment with Invisalign is easier and more comfortable than with traditional braces, there are still some points of which you should be aware, so that you have the best experience possible.
How many hours per day do I need to wear my aligners? It is very important to wear your aligners full time, taking them out only to eat and brush your teeth. This means about 20-22 hours/day. If you do not wear them as recommended, the teeth will not move as planned, and the aligners will fit progressively more poorly as you attempt to advance. If this happens, a new set of aligners will need to be made, delaying your progress.
How long do I need to wear each set of aligners? Depending on the treatment plan, patients are directed to advance to the next aligners every 7-14 days. This might change during treatment for various reasons to ensure maximum effectiveness and efficiency. You will be given enough aligners to last until your next scheduled appointment.
Insertion and Removal: You have been instructed on how to best insert and remove your aligners. We have a tool available that can be very helpful for those with very short nails or expensive manicures.
Brushing and Flossing: One of the biggest advantages to using removable aligners, is that you can continue to clean your teeth without the interference of braces. Wearing the aligners all day and all night does reduce the rinsing effect of saliva, so, if you don’t keep your teeth extremely clean, you can still develop decalcifications (white spots and cavities) and swelling of the gums. You might find yourself wanting to brush more often to keep your mouth feeling fresh.
Cleaning the Aligners: Brushing the aligners with water is usually all that is necessary. Avoid toothpastes, as they are abrasive and will scuff them up, making them less clear. Denture soaks, hand soap, and dish soap are other options.
Diet: Another big advantage to using Invisalign is that you don’t really have to be concerned about avoiding foods that would otherwise damage braces. Just remove your aligners and enjoy your favorite foods! People who snack frequently, however, often find this to be inconvenient. You can either consolidate your meals or just accept the need to rinse/brush your teeth and aligners more often.
Tooth Soreness/Looseness: The light pressure placed on teeth often creates some discomfort or soreness. This can be significantly reduced by taking Tylenol or Advil during the first couple of days after starting with a new aligner. Eating softer foods during these periods is usually helpful. It is also normal for the teeth to feel somewhat loose, as this is necessary for them to move.
Rubber bands: Yes, you can wear rubber bands with Invisalign. If this is a part of your treatment plan, you will be given instructions when the time comes.
Aligners Are Numbered: In addition to being printed on the individual packages, each aligner has a tiny number printed on it. The aligners are almost impossible to tell apart, so we will show you how to identify them.
Appointments: Appointments for patients with Invisalign are much simpler than those for patients with braces and can be less frequent. In addition to the aligners that you are currently wearing, be sure to also bring any unworn aligners that you may have been given.
Fortunately, in contrast to traditional braces, there are not many things that can go wrong with removable aligners, but below are a few:
Broken aligner: This is most common at the beginning of treatment, when patients are still getting used to removing them properly. If a crack develops, continue wearing it until you are due to switch to the next one.
Lost (or hopelessly broken) aligner: In most cases, you can simply advance to the next aligner a little earlier than planned. If you haven’t been given the next one yet or if you have difficulty inserting the next one, go back to the previous aligner and contact us. Replacement aligners can be ordered if necessary.
Broken attachment: Although uncommon, attachments can come off or break. This can easily go unnoticed, so try to pay attention to this possibility. They are placed on certain teeth for a reason, so, if one comes off, it is very possible that the affected tooth will not move as planned.
Rough edges: The borders of the aligners are trimmed with a robotically-controlled laser and fit closely to the contour of the gumline. However, you might find an area that is irritating to your cheek, lip, or tongue. You can try to smooth it with an emory board or call us to have it trimmed.
Please do not hesitate to call if you have any questions. During office hours, we can be reached at (336) 292-3355. After hours, please listen to the voicemail message for instructions on how to reach the doctor. If he is not immediately available, leave a message, and your call will be returned as soon as possible on the same day.