How To Reduce Cavity Risks When Using Clear Aligner Braces

Posted on: 7 July 2015


If you are an adult with crooked teeth, then you should know that is never too late to address misalignment concerns whether you are worried about oral health or simply aesthetic appearance. As an adult, metal and ceramic braces are not ideal, and neither are damon braces due to appearance and general pain. Pain is often much more considerable as an adult, because the teeth have been solidified in the jaw for a much longer period of time. For these reasons, clear aligner braces are often chosen. The braces are invisible and they are more comfortable since they move the teeth much more gradually. However, there are still some drawbacks to wearing the aligners, and forming cavities underneath the hard plastic is one of them. Thankfully, you can prevent decay from forming with the tips listed below.

Give Your Teeth a Break

Most cosmetic dentists and orthodontists will tell you to leave your clear braces in your mouth for as long as possible. Usually, the retainers should remain on the teeth for 20 to 22 hours every day for the best results. This leaves two to four hours where the retainers do not need to be on the teeth, and most of the free time will be spent eating and drinking. However, you should not rush to put the aligners back in immediately after you are done eating. When you eat, bacteria feed off the plaque and food particles in the mouth and then release acidic materials. The acids drop the pH of your mouth and your saliva will work to restore the natural and neutral balance. This takes time though. If you put your aligners in too soon, you may trap some of the acids close to your teeth. 

Instead of placing your aligners back in your mouth right away, wait for 15 to 30 minutes after eating a meal. Rinse your mouth with water to get rid of some of the debris that allow bacteria to feed and then brush afterwards. If you are in a hurry, then chew a piece of gum for five minutes before brushing your teeth. The gum will increase saliva production and reduce mouth pH at the same time.

Do Not Cheat When Drinking Fluids

Your cosmetic dentist will ask you to remove your aligners when you eat food and also when you drink any fluids besides water. However, you may feel like you can cheat and drink fruit juice, soda, coffee, or other beverages with the retainers snapped on the teeth.

Usually, between 20 to 30 aligners are required to complete the entire tooth straightening process. The teeth are moved less than one half of a millimeter at a time, and the desired changes in the teeth are built into the aligners. The aligners typically sit tight against the teeth when first placed in the mouth, and this means gaps or spaces may be seen between the teeth and the rigid plastic as force is used to shift the teeth. The spaces are unfortunately perfect for fluids to sit directly against the teeth without the ability of saliva to rinse them away.

Good Drinking Habits

Fruit juice and other sweet beverages contain sugar that directly feed bacteria and can lead to cavities. Coffee, soda, and other drinks are acidic and they can weaken the dental enamel until it is soft enough for bacteria to bore through the protective layer of the teeth. To reduce cavity concerns, make sure to remove the aligners before drinking these fluids and brush afterwards.

You can also stick to drinking water throughout the day, since you do not need to remove the aligners. Water can also move around the teeth a small amount to get rid of any bacteria, plaque, and acids that have become trapped underneath the aligners. The fluid will also work to flush the bacteria away from the gums, tongue, and cheeks so your teeth are exposed to fewer microorganisms when you do remove the retainers.

For more information about using invisible aligners to straighten your teeth, contact a local cosmetic dentist