How to Clean Your Invisalign Braces & Keep Them from Becoming Cloudy

If you want straighter teeth, then you have several different options when it comes to braces. If aesthetics are important to you during the straightening process, then clear aligners are your best option. However, aligners can become cloudy during the two-week wear period, and this can make the braces quite noticeable. You can prevent clouding and keep your braces invisible with the following tips.

Use the Right Cleaner

Invisalign braces are made from an elastic thermoplastic material. The thermoplastic is a flexible polyurethane based material that is soft enough to place gentle pressure on the teeth. Since the thermoplastic is somewhat soft, it can be scratched. Invisalign aligners are meant to be crystal clear so they remain invisible, but scratches in the thermoplastic will make the aligners appear cloudy. If the scrapes collect debris, then they can stain as well.

Scrapes often appear along the aligners when an abrasive material is used to clean them. Plaque will build on the aligners and contribute to the formation of cavities, so you will be asked to brush them. Dental professionals often recommend cleaning them several times a day. However, you will need to avoid cleaners with any sort of abrasive materials. Most toothpaste will have abrasive ingredients like silica, so you will need to avoid cleaning with your normal paste. Also, you should avoid any other cleaner that contains a mineral ingredient like calcium carbonate, feldspar, pumice, calcite, emery, or corundum. 

You can use strong cleaners to clean your braces as long as they contain no gritty agents. Bleach and vinegar can be used, and so can natural and non-abrasive toothpastes. Dish soap is a good cleaner as well. When you choose the type of cleaner that you want, use a different toothbrush to scrub the aligners. When cleaning the outsides of the trays, hold the toothbrush vertically and move it along the crevices of the aligner. Hold the brush vertically when cleaning the inside and rinse thoroughly with warm water when you are done cleaning.

Invest in an Ultrasonic Cleaner

Even if you are serious about cleaning your teeth and aligners every time you eat, plaque can still build on the clear trays and make them look cloudy. Teeth that are crooked are difficult to clean, and bacteria may gather and cling to one another around areas where your toothbrush cannot reach them. As the bacteria cling together, they excrete a sticky material that helps the microorganisms stay in place against the teeth. This is called a biofilm, and it is called plaque when it forms in the mouth. The biofilm can expand and collect on the clear aligners and make them look dingy and cloudy. Some of the plaque can be removed through brushing. However, the film can harden into tartar and brushing will not release the film.

If your clear aligners are cloudy or dingy and the material cannot be removed through brushing, then use an ultrasonic cleaner to remove the biofilm material instead. An ultrasonic cleaner releases sound waves through a pool of water, and these waves place pressure on your aligners. The vibrations cause contaminants on the outside of the thermoplastic to break up and fall off. 

Some ultrasonic cleaners are extremely powerful, so purchase one made for dental appliances to clean your aligners. Some products are made specifically for clear aligners, but you can also purchase a device made to clean dentures and other types of dental appliances. If you have an ultrasonic cleaner you want to try, then make sure to set the device on the lowest setting before placing your aligners in the water to reduce damage concerns. You can add special aligner cleaning tablets to the water or a few tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide. This will help to break up the biofilm on the aligners.

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