How to Care for Invisalign Aligners: Your Complete Guide
smiling woman placing in clear invisalign tray

Most of our Invisalign patients love the confident feeling of having straighter teeth without a bunch of metal in their mouths. But for Invisalign aligners to work properly, you have to care for them correctly.

Unlike traditional braces, which feature wires and brackets, aligners are removable and therefore require special treatment on a daily basis to remain intact and effective.

Here’s everything you need to know about caring for Invisalign aligners throughout your treatment, including how to use Invisalign and how to clean your Invisalign trays.

Caring for Invisalign Aligners Starts with Cleaning

Mastering how to clean your Invisalign trays—particularly if you kept them in while drinking or eating—is essential for properly caring for your Invisalign trays. 

If possible, don’t wear your trays during mealtimes as this can cause your aligners to smell bad and to become stained. This is particularly true if you consume acidic drinks, sweets, and spices. However, if you accidentally leave the aligners in, you can clean them by following the steps below.

Lukewarm water is generally all it takes to remove contaminants such as dirt, grease, and food debris after you’ve munched on snacks or sipped your favorite soft drink. Cold water can also help with removing plaque (the sticky film that food leaves behind on the teeth) and tartar (the hardened form of plaque). Never use hot water, as the high temperature may end up damaging your plastic trays.

Once you’ve rinsed off your Invisalign trays, be sure to gently pat the aligners dry using a cloth. The trays can then be placed in the container or case that came with them.

Note that you may also use a toothbrush to clean an Invisalign aligner. Just be sure to use circular, tiny brush movements on your tray as you would on your natural teeth. This will help to remove bacteria and plaque that have built up on your aligners.

Water and Soap

In addition to caring for your Invisalign trays by rinsing them with plain water, you can combine water with antibacterial soap for excellent cleaning results. Simply squeeze a dollop of liquid soap into a bowl of warm (not hot) water. Then, stir the water to create a sudsy mixture. Afterward, soak your trays in your soapy solution for between 20 and 30 minutes. Finally, rinse your trays clean.

Water and Vinegar

A solution of water and vinegar may also come in handy for rinsing your Invisalign trays. Just mix three parts warm water with one part white vinegar. Then, soak the trays for around 20 minutes. Afterward, rinse the trays under a stream of cool water.

Water and Baking Soda

Another way to clean your Invisalign trays is by mixing water and baking soda. Stir together one-half cup of water with one tablespoon of baking soda, and allow your trays to soak for an hour. Once an hour has passed, remove the aligners from the solution and wash them off with cool water before you wear them again. 

Note that the vinegar and soap methods mentioned above are the fastest cleaning options. However, if you’re not pressed for time, baking soda can be an excellent tool for cleaning and caring for your Invisalign aligners.

baking soda box near bowl containing baking soda

What to Avoid When Caring for Invisalign Trays

In addition to learning how to clean your Invisalign trays, you’ll also need to make an effort to avoid chewing on your trays when wearing them. 

Unlike a sports mouthguard, these plastic trays aren’t made to handle such pressure, so if you bite or chew directly on them, you could tear them. Likewise, steer clear of hard foods, such as popcorn, nuts, and bread crusts, to avoid scratching or breaking your aligners. You should also avoid extremely hot beverages, as the high temperature may crack or warp your aligners.

Again, the easiest way around this is to remove your aligners while eating and drinking.

Twisting, Folding, and Bending

Avoid bending your aligners as well. The more you fold the trays, the more likely they are to become misshapen or even break. When this happens, your aligners won’t fit on your teeth correctly. Unfortunately, this could ultimately cause your teeth to shift or even extend your treatment time.

Other Common Mistakes

When cleaning your aligners, resist the temptation to brush the trays with toothpaste, as toothpaste is generally too abrasive for plastic trays. In addition, don’t soak your aligners in a commercial mouthwash. Mouthwashes often contain color pigments that could stain or tint your trays over time.

Also, avoid leaving your trays laying out in an area if you’re serious about caring for your Invisalign trays properly. Doing this will only expose the aligners to bacteria that may harm the trays and you. Instead, always place your trays in the case they came with. Ideally, Invisalign trays should always be kept in a dry and cool place.

Foods to Avoid During Treatment

Even if you remove your aligners before you eat and drink, you should still bypass certain foods and drinks while undergoing orthodontic treatment with Invisalign. For example, don’t eat hard foods that may push your pearly whites out of their proper place, like jawbreakers or uncooked carrots. In addition, stay away from sticky foods such as caramel and gum. These items promote plaque formation, and they can also pull at your trays and end up breaking them.

As a general rule of thumb, it’s okay for Invisalign patients to drink coffee. However, if caring for your Invisalign trays is a priority for you, don’t sip coffee all day long for two reasons. First, this can cause your trays to stain. And second, if you constantly remove the trays to take a sip of joe, your teeth won’t get the full 20 to 22 hours of Invisalign time that they should have each day.

smiling woman after caring for Invisalign trays

Start Invisalign with Alondra Dental Care

Alondra Dental Care is a full-service dental practice catering to patients in and around Norwalk, CA, including in Orange and Los Angeles counties.

Our wide range of services includes bridges, implants, veneers, and Invisalign. When it comes to caring for your Invisalign aligners, we’ll show you how to clean your trays at home as well as how to use the Invisalign correctly. 

If you’re considering Invisalign, or if it’s simply just been a while since your last check-up, get in touch with us to learn more about how we can enhance your smile. We are currently accepting new patients and are happy to meet with you for a consultation.

About Dr. Abad

Dr. Abad founded Alondra Dental Care with the goal of providing superior dental care through attentive service and state-of-the-art technology. For over 20 years, Dr. Abad has been putting patients first at every step of their dental treatment. When she's not in the office, Dr. Abad can be found in her garden or out giving back to the community. As a member of the American Dental Association, California Dental Association, American Association of Clear Aligners, and Harbor Dental Society, Dr. Abad enjoys educating others on the importance of quality dental health and regular dental exams.