It’s perfectly normal to have questions about eating with Invisalign teeth straighteners. Somehow, these questions always seem to come up more often during the holiday season, when people are indulging in their usual holiday treats.
The issue is that many holiday treats are known to be bad for teeth already. Sugar-loaded candy can help speed along tooth decay, and sticky treats can ruin enamel. And there is an endless list of foods that are a bad idea to eat with braces (Explore: "Foods To Eat And Foods To Avoid With Braces.")
So do those holiday treats also hurt Invisalign aligners? Will they cause the process to take longer? Are candy canes off the menu?
From Eating With Invisalign to Traveling With Your Aligners
Food and Invisalign
First, and most important, you should avoid biting or chewing food when your Invisalign aligners are in your mouth. Part of the reason is that there is always a risk—small, but present—that biting or chewing a tough piece of food can crack or distort the aligner. The aligners are made to withstand a lot of force, but why run the risk?
Even if your aligners don’t crack, hygiene is an issue. By wearing your aligners while eating, you will now need to clean your teeth and your aligners when you are done, especially if you’ve indulged in sweet holiday treats (even those that don’t require chewing). Most people don’t want that added hassle.
All that said, one of the advantages of Invisalign is that they are easy to remove. The best thing to do, then, is to remove the aligners before eating, and then replace them after you clean your teeth after eating.
Drinking with Invisalign
Things are a little different when it comes to drinking. Since there is no chewing or tooth-on-tooth contact involved, you can drink most things safely. There are a few exceptions to keep in mind:
- Invisalign aligners are made with a type of plastic. So, drinking really hot drinks run the risk of distorting their shape. It's best to the take straighteners out.
- Drinks known to stain—coffee, tea, and drinks with a lot of food dye—can cause your aligners to become discolored.
- Even with your aligners in, liquids will seep between tooth surfaces. This can be bad if you drink sugary drinks. It is recommended that you brush after these drinks to remove any sugar and prevent cavity formation.
Cleaning Your Invisalign After Meals
Though there are commercial products on the market for cleaning and maintaining Invisalign straighteners, many people with Invisalign simply use a toothbrush and warm water to get food particles off of them. You can find more tips and tricks here: “Best Ways To Clean Invisalign Every Time: Tips And Tricks.”
If you find your treat intake going up, you may want to clean your aligners more often. Sugar from food can coat your aligners just as it coats your teeth, creating a breeding ground for the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease.
Travelling with Invisalign
Not all holiday eating happens at home. If you are traveling to visit family or friends over the holidays, be sure to prepare:
- Bring your case for your aligners, so you have a safe place to put them when eating or visiting.
- If you have special cleaners, bring them as well (or plan to spend a few days cleaning with a toothbrush).
- Bring healthy snacks; this will help you resist the temptation to overload on sugary treats.
Choosing the Right Food for Healthy Teeth
Really, the question on most people’s minds is this: How long will Invisalign take?
If eating the wrong foods makes the process longer, people are willing to change their habits. Likewise, if certain foods make the process go more quickly and smoothly, it is a good idea to focus on those foods.
The foods that really help the Invisalign process are those that are good for your teeth generally:
- Cheeses, meats, nuts (especially almonds), yogurt, and milk have not only protein but also calcium and phosphorus, both shown to help protect tooth enamel.
- Some green vegetables, such as broccoli and spinach, are also high in calcium.
- Fruits and vegetables with high water content (apples, celery, cucumbers, etc.) will dilute the sugars and starches in them, which in turn helps keep those sugars and starches off your teeth.
Convinced you can do what it takes to straighten your teeth with Invisalign? Or maybe you just have further questions about the process? If you live in the North Carolina area, you can schedule a consultation with your Elite Invisalign Provider, The Happy Tooth. Our team is more than happy to walk you through the treatment process: