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Aligner care tips for a better straightening experience

how to take care of aligners

Key points:

  • If you properly follow an aligner care regimen, you’ll ensure your treatment plan goes according to plan.
  • Aligners are constantly put to the test. 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.
  • Make sure to brush your teeth, floss and properly clean your aligners daily.
  • The best way to store your aligners is in an aligner case.
  • Life doesn’t always go according to plan, so make sure to keep reading and learn how to take care of your aligners on special occasions too!

Optimal Aligner Care

Before going into more detail, watch this video and get a head start on how to take care of your aligners!

How do you store your aligners?

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!

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

Why is our aligner case perfect for better aligner care?

  • It comes with your aligners at no extra cost;
  • Perfect size for storing your aligners and chewies;
  • Handy for day-to-day life at the office or out and about;
  • It 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 ensure that air comes in and out 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…

Clear aligners oral care & cleaning tips

Keeping your aligners clean is important, and so is maintaining proper dental hygiene! Luckily it’s much easier to keep an ideal oral health during the process with removable aligners than with fixed braces.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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 them. You also want to avoid scrubbing them, as that may scratch and damage your aligners.

  • Our top tip on how to clean invisible aligners

An easy and effective solution to this is to use a 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. 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 to keep them sparkly clean!

If you’re already on treatment with us and like the sound of these aligner cleaning tablets and want more information, send us a message through your secure Straight Teeth Direct app account.

Best oral care practice during clear aligner therapy

Here’s a recap from the video in the intro! We’ve created this pyramid to help you visualise the best practices to get the best results while maintaining your healthiest smile:

Aligner and oral care pyramid


  • Daily practices

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

  • 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.

We’ve put together two oral care packs that perfectly compliment your aligner journey at an unbeatable price. In them you’ll find an oral irrigator and an Instant Dentist Smartpower Ultrasonic Toothbrush, which removes up to 70% more plaque than a manual brush. Currently, these bundles are exclusively available to our members. Send us a message through your app account to get your hands on them.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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!

Clear aligners & social gatherings

Though you should wear your aligners for 22 hours a day, life isn’t always so accommodating. Clear aligners are here to suit 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:

Special occasions clear aligner tips

The 22 hour aligner rule

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. If you don’t wear the aligners enough, it can result in slower tooth movement.

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:

Invisible aligner care essentials

Aligner care cheat sheet for all different stages

Before clear braces:

  • We highly recommend making an appointment with a hygienist before starting your journey. Professionally cleaned teeth will ensure any buildup of calculus, tartar or hardened dental plaque.
  • Part of your clear braces treatment requires taking impressions of your teeth which will then be 3D scanned and analysed. Even a small amount of calculus can distort the exact measurements the lab and assigned dentist will work with to make your treatment plan and clear aligners. If your photos reveal unhealthy gums or too much calculus you will be asked to first see a hygienist before making your impressions.
  • Get into the habit of brushing and cleaning between the teeth with floss or a small brush regularly. Use a fluoride mouthwash to prevent cavities.
  • Teeth don’t just need to be straightened for aesthetic reasons. Everyone wants a lovely smile, and crooked or overlapping teeth are notoriously difficult to keep clean which can lead to bacteria buildup and gum disease.

During Treatment:

  • Clean teeth and gums help with treatment progress. Regular brushing helps accelerate the movement of your teeth. Keep a small interproximal or TePe brush at home, this helps keep the areas between the teeth clean and free ensuring faster tooth movement as calculus can slow teeth alignment down.
  • Your aligners are made from a clear, flexible material that is invisible, comfortable and removable. Each time you take your aligners out to eat or drink it is recommended you rinse them and brush your teeth before inserting them back on, and they will remain brilliant, bright, clear and hygienic.
  • You will be given clear instructions on how to care for your aligners.

After Aligners:

  • By now, if you have looked after your teeth during treatment, you will have developed an excellent oral hygiene routine and be in the habit of regularly brushing and flossing your teeth. Don’t let this slide.
  • Take care of your wonderful new smile by continuing to see your hygienist every six months for a professional cleaning.
  • Keep your newly straightened teeth in position. Some may want to consider having a fixed retainer fitted by your dentist in addition to the removable retainer you will receive. You will be given instructions on how to keep this clean.
  • Don’t forget to visit your dentist every six months for a check-up. Dentists can spot potential weaknesses before they become a problem.

Aligner care FAQs

  • Can I chew gum with aligners?

You should definitely not chew gum whilst wearing aligners. You can however chew gum if the aligners are safely removed beforehand!
Quick health tip: you should not chew gum that contains sugar. This could lead to tooth decay, cavities and even gum disease!

  • 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.

  • 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!).

  • 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!

  • Can you exercise with aligners?

This will entirely depend on the sport you’re practising. 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. You can still play less intense sports while wearing your clear aligners though!

  • 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 practising 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!


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