Clear Aligner Tips - How To Keep Your Wear Period From Being Extended

1 February 2016
 Categories: Dentist, Articles


If you have crooked teeth as an adult, then the idea of having metal braces secured in your mouth just may make you cringe in pain. Traditional metal braces are uncomfortable, and this is one reason why many adults choose clear plastic aligners instead. Fortunately, clear aligners can move the teeth as quickly as metal braces. You will be likely to be provided with an average of 20 or 30 aligners that need to be worn for about two weeks each. However, if your teeth do not move as quickly as they should, then the aligners may sometimes need to be worn for three weeks. If this happens more often than not, then this will greatly increase the amount of time it takes to straighten your teeth. To reduce this concern, follow the tips below.

Wear Aligners As Much As Possible

Your dentist, orthodontist, or cosmetic dentist will inform you to keep your clear aligners in your mouth for 20 to 22 hours each day. This will help to keep constant pressure on the teeth so they shift according to your tooth movement plan. While this timeframe does allow you to keep the aligners out of the mouth for two to four hours, you should try to keep it closer to two hours. The more pressure that is placed on the teeth, the quicker they will shift.

To help with this, set up and follow a meal and snack schedule for yourself so you are not constantly taking out the aligners to eat. To help retain energy, keep consistent blood sugar levels, and stave off hunger, you should eat around every two or three hours. Schedule three meals and two or three snacks evenly throughout the day. If you go with a three meal and two snack plan, then set aside 30 minutes for each meal and 15 minutes for each snack.

Once you set up your schedule, prepare your food while your aligners are still in. Take them out immediately before you want to start eating. Place the aligners in a small dish of antibacterial mouthwash. This will kill the bacteria on the aligners so you do not have to brush them before returning them to your mouth. You also should carry small disposable toothbrushes that are sold covered with toothpaste. Rinse your mouth with water after you are done eating, use the toothbrush, rinse your aligners, and place the aligners over your teeth. Make sure that you have at least two or three minutes free at the end of your meal time to do all of these things.

If you stick to this meal schedule, try to stay away from foods that are highly acidic. You will need to brush your teeth before placing aligners back in your mouth to avoid food getting trapped underneath them. However, you should not brush your teeth after you eat an acidic food or you may damage your dental enamel. You should wait 30 minutes, but this can greatly disrupt your aligner wear schedule. Try not to eat oranges, lemons, or grapefruits to avoid this problem.

Ask For Attachments

If your teeth are extremely crooked, then it may be difficult for the clear aligner braces to grip onto the teeth properly to move them. When this happens, the wear period for the aligners will need to be extended. Thankfully, this problem can be avoided if you speak to your dental professional about securing buttons. Buttons or aligner attachments are small and clear resin formations that are adhered to the center of the teeth.The attachments are rectangular or square and help the aligners to grip better so they place the correct amount of pressure on the teeth. The attachments are not placed on every tooth, but they are added to the teeth that need to be moved or shifted the most. 

Along with using the attachments, make sure the aligners sit on the teeth correctly once they are exchanged. In some cases, you may see spaces across the aligners where the teeth are supposed to sit, but the aligners will not fully snap into place. If this happens, you need to place pressure on the aligner to force them over the teeth. Fold a washcloth several times and place it in the mouth where you see such a space. Gently bite down on the cloth for 60 seconds at a time, several times a day, until the aligner sits properly.

For more information, contact an experienced dentist, or visit sites like