Invisalign has revolutionised the world of orthodontics, offering a discreet and comfortable alternative to traditional braces. This clear aligner system has gained popularity among adults and teenagers alike, providing a less noticeable way to straighten teeth and improve smiles.
A common question that many prospective and current Invisalign wearers have is, “can you eat with Invisalign?”
This article aims to address this query in detail, helping you understand how Invisalign works in relation to your daily eating habits.
The Basics of Invisalign
Invisalign is a modern orthodontic treatment that uses a series of clear, custom-made aligners to gradually move teeth into their desired positions. Here’s a brief rundown of how Invisalign works, and its key features:
Customisation: Each set of aligners is precisely crafted to fit your teeth, based on a treatment plan devised by your orthodontist.
Treatment Process: Over the course of your treatment, you will receive a series of aligners, each slightly different from the last. You typically wear each set for one to two weeks, for 20-22 hours a day, generally only removing them to eat, drink, brush, floss and while playing sport.
Removability: One of the defining features of Invisalign is that the aligners are removable. This allows for easier cleaning of your teeth and the aligners, as well as the freedom to remove them for short periods.
Material: The aligners are made from a patented thermoplastic material, which is both strong and clear, making the treatment less noticeable.
The removable nature of Invisalign aligners is a significant advantage, offering flexibility that is not possible with traditional braces.
However, this feature also brings about the common question of whether it is possible, or advisable, to eat while wearing the aligners.
In the following sections, we will delve deeper into this topic, providing clear guidance and practical advice.
Can You Eat with Invisalign On? The General Guidelines
When it comes to eating with Invisalign, the general recommendation from orthodontists is clear: aligners should be removed before eating.
Risk of Damage: Chewing puts a significant amount of pressure on your teeth, and by extension, on the Invisalign aligners. Eating while wearing the aligners can lead to them getting cracked, warped, or otherwise damaged. Even foods that are not particularly hard or crunchy can pose a risk due to the grinding and pressure exerted during chewing.
Staining and Odours: Consuming foods and flavoured drinks can contribute to the development of unpleasant odours, or stain the clear aligners, defeating one of the primary aesthetic benefits of Invisalign.
Increased Risk to Overall Oral Health: Food particles can become lodged between your teeth and/or gums, and your aligners, which may lead to bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease. This risk is magnified because saliva, which typically flows freely around your teeth, is obstructed by the aligners. As a result, it's less effective at flushing out food remnants and maintaining a balanced pH, which is disrupted by food particles and any resulting plaque accumulation.
Discomfort: Eating with Invisalign aligners may also be uncomfortable. Very sticky foods can get stuck to the aligners, causing inconvenience, and adding complication to your cleaning routine.
Benefits of Removing Invisalign Before Eating
Understanding the potential risks of eating with Invisalign on, it becomes clear why removing your aligners before meals is beneficial.
Here’s a closer look at the advantages:
Protecting the Aligners from Damage: Removing the aligners before eating protects them from the pressure and forces exerted during chewing, helping to maintain their integrity and clarity, and ensure they can effectively do their job of gradually shifting your teeth.
Maintaining Oral Hygiene: Removing the aligners to eat not only reduces the risk of food particles getting trapped, it also provides an opportunity for you to rinse or gently brush the aligners themselves before putting them back in. This helps to keep your aligners and your mouth fresh and clean.
In the next sections, we will explore more generally what kinds of foods and drinks are safe to consume with Invisalign, as well as provide tips on how to best care for your aligners and maintain your oral hygiene throughout your Invisalign treatment journey.
Eating with Invisalign: What You Need to Know
Invisalign offers a flexible and less intrusive solution to traditional braces, but it does come with its own set of guidelines, especially when it comes to eating and drinking.
Snacking and Invisalign
Frequency: With Invisalign, it's not just about what you eat, but also how often. Frequent snacking means you'll need to remove your aligners more often, which can be inconvenient and may potentially prolong overall treatment time.
Timing: The aligners need to be worn for 20-22 hours a day for optimal results. Keep an eye on the total time you're keeping the aligners out each time you remove them, especially if you do tend to be a frequent snacker. Make a conscious effort to work towards popping your aligner trays back in as soon as possible, otherwise if you delay, you'll find they're only back in for an hour or so until its time for your next meal!
Recommendations: Keep your total wear time in mind when planning meals and snacks, with a view to minimising the number of times you need to remove your aligners.
Drinking with Invisalign
Water: You can (and should) drink plenty of room-temperature or cold water with your aligners in. Staying hydrated is important, and as long as the water isn't hot, it will not compromise the aligners or your teeth.
Other Beverages: For any drink other than water, it’s recommended to remove your aligners. Beverages like coffee, tea, and red wine can stain the aligners, while sugary drinks can increase the risk of tooth decay.
Hot Drinks: Hot drinks can potentially warp the aligners, altering their shape and effectiveness. Always remove your aligners before consuming hot beverages.
Recommendations: Keep total wear time in mind when planning drinks other than room-temperature or cold water. If possible, aim to consume these beverages at meal times in order to reduce the total amount of time your aligners are out of your mouth.
Chewing Gum and Invisalign
Not Advisable: Many patients wonder if they can chew gum whilst wearing their Invisalign. This is generally not recommended. Gum can stick to the aligners and is challenging to remove. It can also contribute to excessive wear and tear on your aligners.
Aligner Chewies: Orthodontists often advise against chewing gum with Invisalign aligners in. However, they frequently recommend the use of specially-designed 'chewies'. Chewies play a role in ensuring your aligners fit snugly and exert the right pressure on the teeth in the intended areas. Crafted from a spongy material, these compact, reusable cylinders can help to ensure optimal results. Your orthodontist will guide you on recommended chewie usage and timing.
Cleaning and Care After Eating
Maintaining oral hygiene is critical during Invisalign treatment. Here’s how you can keep your teeth and aligners clean after eating:
Brushing and Flossing: Ideally, you should brush and floss your teeth after every meal or snack before putting your aligners back in. This helps to remove food particles and prevent plaque build-up.
Cleaning Aligners: Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to gently clean your aligners with cold water. Avoid using hot water, as this can warp the plastic.
Storage: If you’re out and can't clean your aligners immediately, store them in their protective case until you can.
Regular Check-ups: Keep up with your dental check-ups and cleanings, and follow any additional care instructions from your orthodontist.
By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your Invisalign treatment is as effective as possible, while also maintaining the health and appearance of your teeth and gums.
How to Manage Social Situations with Invisalign aligners
Navigating social eating scenarios with Invisalign doesn’t have to be a challenge. With a bit of planning and discreet practices, you can enjoy social gatherings without compromising your treatment.
Communication: If comfortable, inform close friends or family about your Invisalign treatment so that they understand when you need to remove and replace your aligners.
Discreet, Hygienic Removal: Not everyone wants to remove their aligners in front of an audience in a restaurant or cafe! Furthermore, it is recommended to wash your hands with soap and water prior to removing your aligners. When out and about, most people find a restroom is the best place to manage aligner care.
Always Take Your Invisalign Case Out with You: Keep your case handy for safe Invisalign storage while you're eating meals or enjoying beverages other than water. Unfortunately, putting your aligners in a serviette or napkin often results in your aligners being accidentally discarded, especially when you're distracted in social situations!
Rinse and Replace: After eating, excuse yourself to clean your teeth and replace your aligners, ensuring you're back on track with your treatment.
Healthy Eating and Invisalign Treatment
Luckily, maintaining a healthy diet tends to go hand-in-hand with successful Invisalign treatment. Here’s how you can stay on-track and make the process smoother:
Consistent Wear: If you aim to keep your aligners in for the recommended 20-22 hours per day, the rest tends to fall into place. Plan ahead for healthy meals or snacks that will work with this timeframe.
Plain Water as Your Go-To-Drink: Between meals, enjoying plenty of room-temperature or plain water is the easiest and healthiest choice whilst undergoing Invisalign treatments. After eating, water is also useful to help rinse away any food particles.
Avoid Sticky, Sugary Treats: As you'll need to make sure your teeth are clean each time you replace your aligners, it is not only easier, but also healthier to avoid indulging in treats that will get stuck between your teeth and in your molars.
Carry a Care Kit: Keep a small kit with a toothbrush, toothpaste, and your aligner case with you for quick cleaning on the go.
Consideration for Invisalign Attachments
In terms of eating restrictions, we tend to focus on the Invisalign aligners themselves, with their removability being a key attraction. However, Invisalign attachments should also be taken into consideration. Invisalign attachments are little buttons (usually clear or tooth-coloured) affixed to the teeth, providing the aligners with a surface to exert pressure against for intricate tooth adjustments. Not all patients require these attachments, but most do.
For best results, and to reduce the chance of repair appointments (and associated treatment delays) foods you should consider avoiding whilst wearing Invisalign attachments include:
Extremely hard items like (boiled lollies, ice, nuts)
Very sticky, chewy foods like (caramels)
Given that Invisalign attachments are small, not fixed to every tooth, and lack wires, you won't need to be as careful as you would with traditional braces. However, some care and consideration of your Invisalign attachments if highly advisable in order to ensure you experience the fastest, smoothest Invisalign treatment experience.
Can You Eat with Invisalign? Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Food Can You Eat During the First Week of Invisalign Treatment?
Sometimes you will experience some discomfort as your teeth start to move. During the first week, it is recommended to have softer foods on hand to ease the adjustment period. Options like yogurt, smoothies, soups, and mashed potatoes are ideal.
Which Foods Are Safe to Eat During Invisalign Treatment?
You can eat most foods during Invisalign treatment, as long as you remove your aligners before eating. Some consideration for Invisalign attachments is advisable however, so hard hard or very sticky foods are best avoided (e.g., hard lollies and caramels).
How Long Should I Wear Invisalign Trays?
Invisalign trays should be worn for 20-22 hours per day, only removing them to eat, drink, for sport and for oral hygiene.
Do I Have to Brush My Teeth Every Time I Eat with Invisalign?
Yes, it's recommended to brush your teeth after each meal before putting your aligners back in to maintain oral hygiene.
What Happens if You Eat with Invisalign?
Eating with Invisalign can lead to damaged aligners, trapped food particles, and an increased risk of cavities, gum disease and staining.
6 Do's of Eating with Invisalign
Do remove your aligners before eating.
Do rinse your mouth and aligners before re-inserting.
Do brush after every meal.
Do carry a travel toothbrush for on-the-go cleaning.
Do drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Do follow your orthodontist's advice on care and maintenance.
Why Should I Remove My Invisalign Trays Before Eating?
Removing aligners prevents damage, maintains oral hygiene, and ensures your treatment progresses as planned.
Can You Drink Coffee with Invisalign?
It's best to avoid hot drinks like coffee and tea while wearing Invisalign as they can warp the aligners. Simply remove your aligners before drinking coffee or tea, and replace afterwards.
Should I Change My Diet When Wearing Invisalign?
There's no need for a drastic diet change, but you may find it more comfortable to eat softer foods, in the initial stages of treatment. You'll probably find yourself snacking less often, and drinking more water between meals.
Can You Drink Water with Invisalign?
Yes, you can and should drink water while wearing Invisalign aligners. It helps to keep your mouth hydrated and clean.
Find out more about Invisalign®:
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See what to do if you want Invisalign Maroubra in the Fine Orthodontics clinic.
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Read more about Invisalign cost at our clinics.
Find out how long does Invisalign take to see results.
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What can you drink with Invisalign? Tips for achieving the best results from orthodontic treatment.
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