Invisalign and Braces: Hygiene Habits

Keeping a healthy mouth while in orthodontic treatment

Patient fitting Invisalign Tray
If you have Invisalign® trays or braces, hygiene is a must. Yes, it will take some work, but a beautiful and healthy smile that lasts a lifetime is worth it.

What does oral hygiene look like for people with braces or Invisalign®? It comes down to some very important daily habits. If you've slacked on oral hygiene in the past, get ready to enjoy the always-clean feeling of a well-maintained mouth. 

Invisalign®, braces, hygiene -- top daily habits to maintain

  • Brushing - Brush after every meal and before bed.
  • Flossing (or water flossing) - Floss once a day. 
  • Antiseptic rinse - Rinse whenever you brush or floss.
  • Interdental brushing - Use this special brush to clean under and around braces.
  • Retainer or aligner cleaning - If you have a retainer or Invisalign trays, clean daily.

Brushing with Braces or Invisalign® Aligners

Because braces tend to attract food particles. You'll need to brush after every meal. Expect brushing to take a bit longer, but doing it correctly is important if you want to avoid long-term damage to your teeth. Using gentle, circular strokes, brush all of your teeth's exposed surfaces (the front of your teeth above and below braces, tips of teeth, chewing surfaces, and the backs of your teeth). 

Use a small interdental brush (or proxabrush) to get to those hard to reach spots under wires and around brackets. Remember to work gently and patiently. You don't want to damage your braces. 

If your orthodontic treatment involves Invisalign®, good news, brushing will be easier for you. You'll want to remove your trays when you eat. Brush after every meal while undergoing Invisalign treatment, following your dentist's normal brushing instructions.

Flossing (or Waterflossing)
This one's tricky. Flossing will require the use of a floss threader if you have braces. Hygiene isn't just about keeping the fronts and backs of your teeth clean. It's about every dental surface that can attract plaque and cavities. So, while it's a bit more challenging than normal flossing, getting the hang of using a floss threader and flossing daily will be essential. 

If you have Invisalign® trays, just floss as your dentist directs. We know this step is tempting to skip, but to keep your gums healthy and to avoid cavities between your teeth, it's important to maintain daily flossing.

Waterflossing is a water-based alternative to traditional flossing and a great way to avoid using a floss threader. The Waterpik Waterflosser is easy to use. Simply aim it at those normal flossing areas (gum lines and between teeth) and spray a stream of plaque-cleaning water. If you're like most people who feel guilty for not flossing enough, you will love that it's so much easier to use than traditional string floss. You will also be happy to know it works better. The combination of brushing and using the Waterpik Waterflosser is:

  • Up to 3 times more effective than brushing and traditional flossing.
  • 50% more effective at reducing gingivitis than brushing and string flossing.
  • And up to 5 times more effective than brushing alone for orthodontic patients.

Rinsing
Swishing antiseptic rinse around in your mouth after flossing and brushing help remove stubborn bits of food and plaque that can cling to your teeth. Note: this is not a replacement for flossing. Rinsing also freshens your breath. And who doesn't like that?

Retainer and aligner cleaning - If you're in the retainer phase of your orthodontic treatment, you'll want to clean your retainers daily by soaking them in lukewarm tap water in which you've dissolved a denture cleaning tablet (we like Efferdent and Polident). 

Invisalign® trays require daily cleaning too, but due to their lighter construction, we suggest cleaning them with gentler products.

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