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Aligner Care 101 – How do I take care of my clear aligners?

Aligner Care 101 - Look after your aligners and they'll look after your teeth!

Table of contents

#1 Daily Aligner Care

#2 Best oral care practice during clear aligner therapy

#3 Aligner Care and Special Occasions

#4 Aligner Treatment Essentials

#5 Aligner care FAQs

With the idea of wearing invisible aligners some questions might arise: “How do I take care of my aligners?”, “Can I drink coffee with aligners?” or “Can I chew gum with aligners?” just to name a few! For these and many other reasons we’ve put together a proper aligner care guide for you. Always remember that if you properly follow an aligner care regimen, you’ll ensure your treatment plan goes according to…well, plan!

#1 Daily Aligner Care

Our mouth is by no means an easy environment for orthodontic appliances; quite the contrary! With bits of food getting stuck here and there, sugary treats causing all sorts of havoc, and nightly teeth clenching that produces enough force to bite through bone, aligners are confronted with a rather difficult setting. That’s why we’ve created these top tips to ensure your dental health, teeth straightening success and aligner survival.

1.1) How do you store your aligners?

When you receive your aligners, you will get a little hard case to store them in. You should always store your aligners in a protective teeth aligner case, instead of just wrapping them up in tissue paper. Aligners can break if something falls on them or if someone accidentally sits on them. You might even throw them in the rubbish as a mistaken used tissue! This picture shows the case that you’ll receive in your first aligner box from Straight Teeth Direct.

teeth aligner case

It is the perfect size for storing your aligners and chewies, and handy for day-to-day life at the office or out and about.

Keeping them in when eating or drinking something else than water could make them cloudy, distort them if in contact with heat or worse, could cause them to crack and become ineffective.

When it’s time to eat, just pop the aligners out. You can rinse your clear aligners off after taking them out, before putting them back in or both.

This handy little aligner case even has a built-in mirror that can save you time going to the nearest bathroom just to take your aligners out or put them back in!

The little holes at the top of the case ensure that air comes in and out of it for your aligners to stay nice and dry. Bacteria can spread quite quickly in a wet environment, so it’s a big hygienic must that you have clean aligners every time you put them back in! Speaking of which, that leads us to the next point…

1.2) Clear aligners oral care & cleaning tips

Keeping your aligners clean is so very important, and maintaining proper dental hygiene is just as essential! Luckily it’s much easier to keep an ideal oral health during the process with removable aligners than with fixed braces. You can literally take them out to properly brush and floss.

1.2.1 How often should I brush my teeth with aligners?

You must brush your teeth after every meal or snack before putting the aligners back in your mouth. Chewing on some minty gum might do the trick in everyday life, but when using aligners we need to go the extra step and brush after each meal.

The aligners are made to press accurately and precisely on your teeth. Teeth surfaces need to be clean to have the right forces on them. This is why you need to brush your teeth and clean them thoroughly after eating. Wearing aligners with food inside could damage them and stop the tooth movement delaying your progress.

1.2.2 How do I keep my teeth aligners clean & fresh

If you’ve been asking yourself questions like “Why do my aligners smell?” We have an answer for you. Like your dental routine, it’s good to have an aligner care routine. Whenever you remove them, make sure to clean aligners with a soft toothbrush and some water. This will remove plaque from invisible aligners and leave them clean, ready to wear again. However, sometimes the natural bacteria and plaque build up can be difficult to clean using only water.

1.2.3 Can I brush my aligners with toothpaste?

Toothpaste was made for teeth, whether you want to keep a regular dental routine or to make your teeth look brighter. It has a different effect on aligners though, especially whitening toothpaste, can make your clear aligners turn cloudy, and that is why we wouldn’t recommend you using it to clean your aligners!

1.2.4 Can you use hand soap to clean aligners?

The answer is yes. As long as it’s not coloured or has a scent, as it could otherwise stain your invisible aligners. You also want to avoid scrubbing them, as that may scratch and damage your aligners.

1.2.5 Our top tip on how to clean invisible aligners

An easy and effective solution to this is to use an invisible aligner cleaner method. To start you off, we include a complimentary sample of 3 premium cleaning tablets for aligners in your StraightBox™ aligner kit whenever stocks allow. These pair perfectly with your teeth straightening treatment routine. Just pop an aligner care tablet into a glass of water with your aligners, let them soak for 15-30 minutes before gently brushing and rinsing with water. Do this once or twice a week (or as much as you feel is necessary) to keep them sparkly clean!

If you’re already on your teeth straightening journey and like the sound of these aligner cleaning tablets, we have good news for you: Through our partnership with an aligner cleaning tablet service, you can now get free shipping and maintain aligner hygiene throughout your treatment in the most effective and convenient way possible! For more information, send us a message through your secure Straight Teeth Direct™ app account.

#2 Best oral care practice during clear aligner therapy

At-home teeth straightening with invisible aligners usually takes between 5-9 months. However, some straightening movements can take over 12 months to complete, depending on your individual case. We’ve created this pyramid to help you visualise the best practices that you can stick to throughout the course of your aligner treatment to get the best results while maintaining your healthiest smile:

Oral care pyramide

2.1 Daily practices

As explained above, it’s important that you clean your teeth and aligners every day. You should also use your chewies as specified in your treatment plan. And don’t forget to wear the aligners for the recommended daily duration. 

2.2 Weekly practices

Apart from flossing regularly, it’s also a good idea to invest in an oral irrigator. It allows you to propel liquid through your teeth gaps to thoroughly clean your teeth in surfaces hard to reach. If you have any specific oral hygiene concerns, such as gum problems or sensitivity, you can fill the oral irrigator with part water and part targeted mouthwash to treat your individual needs. You can do this on a weekly basis, just like soaking your aligners in a cleaning tablet solution.

Wondering where to find an oral irrigator? For your convenience, we’ve done a lot of research and testing to put together two oral care packs that perfectly compliment your aligner journey at an unbeatable price. They include an oral irrigator, as well as an Instant Dentist™ Smartpower Ultrasonic Toothbrush, which removes up to 70% more plaque than a manual brush, perfect for the daily practices outlined above. Currently, these bundles are exclusively available to our members. Send us a direct message through your app account to get your hands on them.

2.3 Monthly practices

Every month, the Straight Teeth Direct™ team will get in touch to remind you about your monthly progress reviews. All you need to do is snap 5 pictures of your teeth from different angles without wearing the aligners and one showing how the current aligner fits. Then, submit them for the clinical team to review them via the Straight Teeth Direct™ app. They will compare your results with your predicted progress, track your tooth movement and aligner fit and order your next batch of aligners accordingly.

2.4 Bi-yearly practices

No matter how well we stick to our at-home dental care regime, it’s important to visit a dental hygienist regularly to get our teeth professionally cleaned. During this process, they can also check for any dental concerns that may have started arising, such as gum disease, so that appropriate action can be taken immediately. Another way that you can easily and affordably check-up on your oral health is by using a teledentistry platform like Instant Dentist™.

If you have already completed your aligner therapy and are (hopefully!) using retainers to keep your smile nice and straight, it’s important to renew them twice a year. Just like aligners, plastic retainers are only meant to be used for a certain amount of time before being replaced. If used longer than predicted they may wear and allow your teeth to move again.

2.5 Yearly practices

Last but not least, don’t forget to visit your local dentist once a year for a full dental health checkup. You can complement this with x-rays if deemed necessary to identify any possible underlying issues, as well as an evaluation of your gum health.

#3 Aligner Care and Special Occasions

Whether it’s a holiday, first date or a formal dinner, sometimes we spend the whole evening or even day snacking away and drinking at social occasions. And that’s perfectly fine! 

Girl smiling with invisible aligners

3.1 Clear aligners & social gatherings

Though you should wear your aligners for 22 hours a day, life isn’t always so accommodating. Clear aligners, on the other hand, are here to accommodate our modern lifestyle. Just take them out for the occasion and pop them back in afterwards. There’s no harm in leaving them in their aligner case a little longer once every so often. Just don’t make it a habit! 

Here are some aligner tips and tricks for those special occasions:

Aligners tips and tricks

3.2 The 22 hour aligner rule

two invisible aligners

Why the 22 hour aligner rule, you may ask? It’s actually very simple. Every aligner is made to move your teeth by up to 0.2mm over a period of about 2 weeks. Though that may not seem like much movement, over time it’s what ensures your dream smile transformation. Did you know that ancient orthodontics was performed by finger pressure? simply pressing on a tooth for long enough every day will make it move.

This is why sucking your thumb can cause crooked teeth. Teeth move in response to constant forces. The key being: are they good targeted forces to straighten teeth, or unwanted forces that make teeth crooked.

Straight Teeth Direct™ aligners are designed with pressure points. This directly presses and guides teeth gently on the exact movement path to a straighter smile. This is why you need to wear aligners for 22 hours a day. Making sure that teeth are pushed into the new place, while remodeling their foundations to keep them there.

If you don’t wear the aligners enough, then the force activation will be incomplete and movement can’t happen fully. This can actually result in slower tooth movement.

#4 Aligner Treatment Essentials

Now that you know how to take care of your invisible aligners, you may be wondering what items you should get hold of to be fully prepared for your teeth straightening journey.

To help you out, we’ve put together a helpful aligner essentials list:

Aligner treatment essentials

#5 Aligner care FAQs

We couldn’t find a better way of ending this blog than by answering some of the most common questions people in invisible aligners treatment ask:

5.1 “Can I chew gum with aligners?”

If you are in aligner treatment, you should definitely not chew gum whilst they’re in your mouth. You can however chew gum if the aligners are safely removed beforehand!

Quick reminder: Whether you’re using invisible aligners or not, you should not chew gum that contains sugar. This could lead to tooth decay, cavities and even gum disease.

5.2 “Can I drink coffee with aligners?”

Drinking hot coffee with your aligners may cause the plastic to deform. If your coffee is not hot, it will most definitely stain your aligners. So always remember that, if you can’t remove your aligners before drinking coffee or any other coloured drink, carefully sip it through a straw.

5.3 “Can I smoke with aligners?”

Our suggestion here is very similar to the last one. We don’t recommend it as it will most likely stain your aligners (and teeth!). So again, if you can’t remove your aligners, make sure to drink sips of water regularly to reduce the staining effect.

5.4 “How often should aligners be changed?”

With Straight Teeth Direct, you receive your aligners in batches. Each set of aligners is made to move your teeth over a period of about 2 to 4 weeks depending on your individual wear plan. So, make sure to wear them for as long as you’re supposed to before switching to your next aligners. Don’t worry though as you will always get reminders and instructions on when to change for the next set, as well as a whole team of people always ready to assist you when needed!

5.5 “Can you exercise with aligners?”

This will entirely depend on the sport you’re practicing. Bear in mind that aligners do not work as mouth guards, so if you’re boxing, performing martial arts, and other physical sports, you’d better get a proper mouth guard and keep your aligners in their case!

So, can you play sports with aligners? You can play less intense sports while wearing your clear aligners. Just don’t forget that invisible aligners are not supposed to protect your teeth in any way, high-impact sports may break them.

5.6 “Can you play musical instruments with aligners?”

Playing musical instruments with aligners is not an issue in most cases. If you’re planning to play a musical instrument like the saxophone, clarinet or any brass instruments that may cause you some discomfort though. There’s a reason why clear aligners are called removable braces – you can remove your aligners before practicing or performing live. It’s important to understand that even though you can take your aligners out to play a musical instrument, they need to be worn for at least 22 hours a day and you must follow your treatment plan!


If you still have any doubts, the Straight Teeth Direct team is just a message away through the app, so feel free to send your questions or pictures so we can ensure you’re still on track 😉

As you can see, aligner care is quite straightforward when you break it down. If you’re interested in finding out more about aligner care and at home teeth straightening, check out our Straight Teeth TV channel full of useful info, like this video on aligner tips and tricks!


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