Wearing Invisalign 20+ hours a day as recommended is very important for your orthodontic treatment to succeed, but it will often lead to plaque, buildup, stain and occasional food particles inside your Invisalign trays. Luckily, keeping your Invisalign clean is very simple if you use the following cleaning methods as part of your oral hygiene routine.
What should you use to clean your Invisalign?
There are several easy and effective ways to clean Invisalign trays. These are some of the ones I find the most effective:
Best for daily clean: Clear hand soap
Clear, lightly-scented hand soap and a soft manual toothbrush is a simplest, easiest way to clean your Invisalign trays. You are already about to brush your own teeth, might as well brush your aligners!
Although it's very tempting to use toothpaste and your own toothbrush (which should be electric!), toothpaste will scratch your aligners, and electric toothbrushes do not fit inside the aligners very well. Just make sure to avoid colored or heavily-scented soaps, as they might stain your aligners.
Best to remove stains: Hydrogen Peroxide
If your Invisalign turn yellow or brown, hydrogen peroxide is an easy and cost-effective way to get your aligners clean. Make cleaning solution equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and lukewarm water. Let your aligners soak for 20 minutes, then rinse them and put them back in.
It might take several tries to get all the stain off, and you might also try white vinegar (not together with the peroxide) to remove any hard buildup that the stain might be attached to.
Best to remove hard buildup: White Vinegar
White vinegar is a great way of removing hard buildup from your aligners. Dilute 1 part of distilled white vinegar in 3 parts of water and let your aligners soak for 15-20 minutes. Rinse them well and make sure to use a soft manual toothbrush to remove any plaque that was loosened up by the vinegar.
Be aware that vinegar will leave your aligners smelling like vinegar even after rinsing. Soaking your aligners in plain water for a few minutes will help but a faint smell might linger for longer.
Alternative: Invisalign-brand cleaners
Invisalign Cleaning Crystals
Invisalign crystals are a popular, easy-to-use daily cleaning product. Just dilute the crystals in lukewarm (not hot!) water and soak the aligners for 15 minutes or more. Convenient and effective, but significantly more expensive than any of the alternatives (about $27 a month if you use it once a day every day).
Invisalign Cleaning Spray and Foam
Both the foam and spray are ready-to-use hydrogen peroxide and SLS (detergent) solutions. Very convenient but significantly more expensive than the alternatives. Be aware that the bottles are really, really tiny! (the spray is ONE THIRD OF AN OUNCE for $11.99!!!)
How do you clean Invisalign without damaging it?
Cleaning Invisalign aligners without damaging is easy as long as you keep these in mind:
DO NOT use hot water
it will change the shape of your aligners and they might not fit properly anymore! Always use cold water or barely warm water
DO NOT use toothpaste
Most toothpastes have an abrasive ingredient (usually silica) to help remove stains from teeth, but they will create fine scratches on Invisalign aligners that will make them get stained even easier. For proper cleaning, gently brush them with a soft bristled toothbrush with clear liquid hand soap.
DO NOT use baking soda
Baking soda is very abrasive, and will cause scratches on your trays. Plus, since most buildup is due to calcium deposits, white vinegar does a much better job.
What is the easiest way to clean Invisalign?
Although many orthodontists advise using Invisalign cleaning crystals, the easiest way to keep your aligners clean is to use a soft toothbrush and clear antibacterial soap.
How Often Should I Clean My Invisalign Trays?
You should clean your Invisalign aligners every day, at least once a day. Usually, the best time is when you brush your teeth and do your oral hygiene routine. Decide if it is more convenient to clean them when you brush your teeth in the morning or at night, choose a cleaning method and try to stick with it.
We usually recommend cleaning them with hand soap and a soft bristled toothbrush every day, and to clean them with peroxide or vinegar only if they have heavy stains or buildup (see the technique above).
How to Remove Stains From Invisalign Trays?
As obvious as it may sound, the best way to not have stains on your Invisalign trays is to avoid eating with them and to avoid beverages that will stain them, such as tea, coffee and colored sodas. Just to stay safe, it is better to just drink water while wearing your aligners, since sugary drinks and stuck on food particles can lead to tooth decay.
That said, once your normally clear trays have turned yellow or brown, most dentists recommend lightly brushing the inside of the trays with a soft toothbrush with a clear antibacterial soap. If this cleaning routine doesn't do it, try soaking them in one part peroxide and one part barely warm water for 20 minutes.
Can I Use Toothpaste to Clean My Invisalign?
No! Most toothpastes have a fine abrasive (either silica or baking soda) that helps them remove stains from teeth, but will scratch clear aligners.
Can I Use My Invisalign for Teeth Whitening?
Yes, you can as long as the whitening product is intended to be used that way. The trays used for Invisalign treatment extend to cover part of your gum, so they will keep whitening gels in contact with your gums. This can lead to irritation or burns on your gums.
If you received the whitening gel from your orthodontist as part of your Invisalign treatment plan, there is a good chance that the product is safe to use inside your Invisalign. If in doubt, wear the whitening gel in the trays for half the recommended time to start and see how your gums react.
Most importantly, never wear your aligners with a teeth whitening gel to sleep. This can lead to severe burns of the gums. If you have any problems, contact your orthodontist immediately.
How do you clean Invisalign retainers?
Invisalign retainers are very similar to aligners. You can safely use the same cleaning routine that you already use to keep your Invisalign clean. You do not need a special retainer cleaner.
Using a clear liquid hand soap and a soft bristle brush under cold or barely warm water will do the trick. See the guide above for more details.