Exactly six weeks ago, I embarked on a fateful journey to straighten my teeth via invisible aligners. Oh, what an eventful six weeks it has been.
I’m certainly no stranger to orthodontic appliances. In fact, I had braces two (2) times as a teen—braces phase #1 was specifically to fix my horrific overbite. Over a period of about three years, I had rubber bands snap inside my mouth. I broke off brackets on pieces of candy and had power chains forcibly eliminate my gap tooth. I endured a torture devise known as a distal jet attached to the roof of my mouth. I dug in the trash can for retainers, and also, I melted a retainer in the car once. In one particularly mortifying instance, my mom spotted my orthodontist at the Cheesecake Factory, and bullied him into opening his office on a Saturday IMMEDIATELY AFTER HE FINISHED HIS LUNCH to fix the band around my molar that had broken off and was now perpetually stabbing my gum. We followed him in his car from the restaurant.
Compared to that hell, invisible aligners are a walk in the park, (and yes, after all that, my teeth still shifted, and here we are! Wear your retainers, kids!). But still, I’ve had to adjust my routine somewhat significantly in order to accommodate my new mouth accessories.
Personally, I opted to go with the classic Invisalign, so my knowledge is purely based on my experiences with that aligner brand—though I imagine the experience of slowly straightening you teeth via plastic tray thing isn’t too different even if you’ve opted for a different company to do the straightening.
The transition from non-Invisalign wearer to Invisalign wearer was a tedious one, but I can decisively say that there are a few things that made the whole process a tad smoother. Consider investing in some of these products if you too have decided to straighten out your smile.
My orthodontist made it abundantly clear that I should be wearing my Invisalign for 22 hours per day, and the two Invisalign-free hours are reserved for eating, brushing your teeth, and cleaning your trays only. So you shouldn’t really need a bunch of extra aligner cases lying around, because the aligners should be in your mouth!
That being said, I found it useful to have an extra case on hand. The case that comes with the Invisalign is pretty slim and easy to take on the go, so I leave that one in my purse and keep this one from Amazon on my table at home.
After a full day of hanging out in your mouth, your trays are going to get pretty gross. You’re not supposed to brush the trays; toothpaste can make them look less clear and the bristles can cause scratches. Invisalign sells these special, expensive cleaning crystals, but my orthodontist said I just can just use regular, ol’ Efferdent. Yup, I’m a girl in my mid-twenties buying denture cleaner.
The best time to soak those suckers is first thing in the morning, since, like your breath, they’re particularly grody when you first wake up. But if you want to clean them twice a day like you do your teeth, nothing is stopping you.
If you’re going to clean your trays (which you are), you should have a denture bath. No one said this was going to be glamourous.
By all means, you can also just use a cup, but it’s helpful in the morning to have that strainer that prevents my trays from falling in the sink. Also, this might be paranoid, but I don’t want my cups tasting all Efferdent-y.
My orthodontist handed me a packet of these little guys when I went to go pick up my trays, but I’ve since bought more on Amazon. Basically, as your treatment progresses, some of the trays are harder to put in than others, especially during the first few days of wearing a new tray. Chewing on these little squishy things helps make sure the aligners are on good and tight. Mine are mint flavored, but there’s a flavorless option as well.
Every article I read about Invisalign prior to my treatment warned me that it’s important to brush your teeth after every meal, before you put your trays back in. My orthodontist had a more realistic outlook: She told me I probably wouldn’t actually stick to such a vigorous brushing routine—and she was right.
So far, it really hasn’t mattered much, but I do like to have a toothbrush on hand anyway, just in case I eat something particularly messy. Also, Invisalign wearers have to put up with having tooth-colored attachments glued onto their teeth, and I constantly think that food is caught on them (this is rarely actually the case). This is by far the best travel toothbrush I’ve come across. It folds up into its own built-in case, making it super tiny and easy to carry around. Plus, the bristles are soft, which you’ll appreciate because...
Invisalign makes your teeth incredibly sensitive, and it makes sense. You’re literally moving your teeth around inside your skull. It’s not a comfortable process.
Tooth sensitivity isn’t something I’d ever experienced before, though, so I opted to buy some sensitivity toothpaste (both regular-size and travel-size as an accompaniment to the aforementioned toothbrush). It hasn’t really helped, but it can’t hurt.
Note: Something that can hurt? Whitening toothpaste. Bleaching has been known to cause tooth pain, so maybe wait until after your treatment is over before going after that gleaming white smile. Plus, if you have attachments on your teeth, the part of underneath won’t whiten, so you’ll be left with discolored spots.
But you’re already flossing every night, right? Just kidding, no one does that. Although, now that I wear aligners all day, I do feel much better if I floss nightly and just clean out any gunk that might have been crammed under the tray. Cocofloss is the best, but if you really want to go crazy, splurge on a Waterpik. Just be sure to use lukewarm, not cold, water, because tooth sensitivity!
Speaking of having crap in your teeth, I now carry around a little compact mirror. It makes me feel better to be sure nothing is stuck in the tray after I’ve eaten, and to ensure that there’s no lipstick on my aligner, because for some reason, lipstick sticks to aligner trays like glue.
You have all your stuff, now where will you put it? In a pouch or toiletry bag, there’s where. It makes the most sense to have a designated “Invisalign bag” that can easily be transferred from your purse or backpack, to your gym bag, to a tote, and back again.