October 18, 2018 Ann Le Invisalign is a state-of-the-art alternative to braces. Invisalign are clear, custom-made aligners for anyone, whether a teenager or an adult, who wants straighter teeth in general or to fix overbites, underbites, gaps in teeth, crossbites, or open bites. Using cutting edge technology, Invisalign has revolutionized our smiles. You will still be able to do everything you love, like participating in sports and going out with friends. In fact, that’s the great thing about Invisalign versus braces: no one will suspect you are wearing them because they are clear and are more comfortable for the person wearing them and harder for another person to identify them. Though the technology that goes into creating Invisalign is advanced, they do still require diligent care, and that includes minding what you eat and drink. Drinks that Are Safe with Invisalign Water (room temperature or cool) Drinks You Should Avoid with Invisalign Everything else, including: Hot water Tea Coffee Wine and Beer Any other alcoholic drink Soda Juice Carbonated/sparkling water (such as La Croix) Other carbonated beverages Milk Drink Only Water for the Very Best Results As mentioned above, water is the only safe beverage you can drink while wearing Invisalign aligners. Not only does drinking water alone help protect your aligners and teeth, but, by doing so, it helps you achieve the very best results within the expected time frame. Thus, Invisalign requires your commitment to (1) wear them for no less than 22 hours a day, and (2) protect your teeth and the aligners because they are costing you quite a bit of money and you want the best your money can provide. What does this mean for your day-to-day living? It means drinking only water for the very best results. Consider your morning coffee. If you want to protect your teeth and the aligners, you must take the aligners out — the hot liquid can warp the aligners while the caffeine can stain both them and your teeth. But if you take the aligners off, you are looking at around 30 minutes, if not longer, of being without your aligners. That time adds up quickly. And if you have the aligners off more than 2 hours, then you risk not getting the very best results your aligners can provide. Why You Should Only Drink Water Knowing you should only drink room temperature or cool water while being treated with Invisalign is not enough; you should know why. The reasons are threefold: Anything other than water has the potential to stain the aligners. Any hot liquid can warp the aligners. Drinking anything other than water with the aligners on risks liquid seeping between the aligners and your teeth and developing conditions for tooth decay. Anything other than room temperature water, therefore, has the potential to harm the aligners or your teeth. Aligner attachments, small dots added to the teeth made from dental composite material which some patients require in more complex orthodontic cases to help correct and manoeuvre the aligners, should be unaffected by other liquids given the relatively short treatment period. So remember, you are paying for your beautiful smile, make sure you make the most of it. Invisalign is only temporary, but your smile will be permanent. Negative Effects on Invisalign Aligners Most people choose Invisalign because of the appearance or lack thereof. Invisalign are virtually invisible, smooth aligners. Drinking anything other than water can negate this main selling point. Dark drinks like coffee, tea, and wine will stain the aligners. Hot drinks like tea can warp the plastic. Stains have a direct effect on the appearance of the aligners while warped plastic impacts the aligners’ effectiveness, sometimes requiring you to purchase a new set of aligners. Negative Effects on Teeth While many people choose Invisalign for the advantage of their invisibility, they do not choose Invisalign for their convenience. If you do choose to drink anything other than room temperature water and fail to remove the aligners each time you take a sip of that drink, you risk your oral health. When you drink a liquid with the aligners on, that liquid can seep down between the aligners and your teeth. Acidic drinks — like tea, coffee and alcohol — and sugary drinks — like juice and soda — are especially dangerous. The tiny space between your teeth and the aligners acts as a breeding ground for bacteria, and this is exacerbated by sugar and acid: Sugar is a food source for this bacteria, allowing bacteria to nurture cavities. Acid can drain minerals from the teeth, causing weak and decayed teeth. Saliva would normally help prevent sugar and acids from destroying your teeth but, with Invisalign, the aligners form a barrier between the saliva and teeth. This adds to the negative impact drinks other than water can have on your teeth while you are being treated with Invisalign. It is important, therefore, that even when you remove the aligners to eat and drink, to brush and floss afterwards to prevent the build up of any acidic or sugary food remnants between the aligners and your teeth. Does Drinking Through a Straw Help? It is hard for some people to imagine that throughout the course of the Invisalign treatment, they will not drink anything other than water. For that reason, many people put their hopes in the straw. If you have ever whitened your teeth, then you were probably told to drink through a straw. For some people, they think the same will hold true during Invisalign treatment. But hot drinks remain hot and are not usually suitable for straws. Even when the drink cools somewhat, the temperature may be warm enough to drink through a straw but hot enough to still have a warping effect on the aligners. As for cool yet dark, and/or acidic, and/or sugary drinks, a straw may be used to lower the risks of these drinks and the damage that could be done to the aligners and your teeth. That said, you still run the risk of harm. Your mouth is a wet environment and full of saliva. When the drink mixes with the saliva, it is bound to have contact with the aligners, and that means trouble for you, especially over time. Your aligners can still be stained or warped and your teeth can still become decayed. Straws minimize the risks but do not prevent them. What if You Accidentally Drink Something Besides Water? If, for whatever reason, you forget about your aligners and accidentally drink something other than water, do not fret. The solution is simple enough: Remove the aligners. Rinse out your mouth and the aligners. If you have toothpaste and a toothbrush with you, brush your teeth. Then put your aligners immediately back on. Remember: for Invisalign to work its best, you should have them on no less than 22 hours a day. Those two remaining hours will add up quickly, so if you have to remove them for cleaning, do so quickly. Don’t get distracted and leave the Invisalign off, or else you may prolong the duration of treatment, meaning prolonging the duration of drinking only room temperature or cool water. Ann LeAnn Le has been successfully managing dental practices since 1990. She is currently Practice Manager at Bunker Hill Dentistry in Houston, TX which she runs with her husband Dr. Tri M Le.