Can you still maintain a healthy diet while using Invisalign?
Clear aligners, sold under the brand name Invisalign, are an excellent option for correcting minor to moderate problems with your teeth. Whether they’re crowded together or you are self-conscious about the gap between your front teeth, this treatment plan may be just the right choice for you. However, it’s natural to have concerns about dietary restrictions when receiving any type of treatment to your teeth. These concerns are common, considering the restrictions imposed upon patients who have traditional braces. Luckily, clear aligners do not impact your dietary choices at all. You will continue to be able to enjoy a varied, healthy diet.
Understanding the Invisalign System
While braces and clear aligners work towards many of the same goals, your orthodontist may choose aligners for you based on your needs. Clear aligners are shaped much like retainers and snap into place on the teeth. Computer technology is used to make a series of aligners just for you, to address your specific needs. By wearing an aligner for 20 hours a day, your teeth will be gently nudged into the desired position. You will use a new aligner every few weeks, depending on your orthodontist’s instructions, until your treatment is complete. You may need anywhere between six and 48 aligners to finish your treatment, and your orthodontist may also need to install attachment points to your teeth to serve as anchors for teeth that need to be pulled into position.
The Routine of Clear Aligners
You will be instructed to wear an aligner for 20 hours a day, every day, and replace the aligner each week. You should only remove your aligner to eat and to perform your oral hygiene routine. This means that you can eat all of the same healthy foods you enjoyed before you started treatment.
There are some foods you will need to be cautious with during your treatment. For example, hard candies and gum can get stuck on any attachment points you have installed. You should not eat or drink with the aligner in your mouth. If you do decide to drink with it in, you will need to be careful of items such as coffee and red wine as they can stain the clear aligner. With it out, however, you can enjoy everything you normally eat and drink. You don’t need to remove the aligner to drink water, but even fruit juice and soda will leave sugars behind that can promote tooth decay.
You should definitely not attempt to eat even soft foods with the aligner in place. Food can get trapped between your teeth and the aligner, leading to cavities. It can also be intensely uncomfortable and make your aligner difficult to remove. Always brush and floss your teeth after you eat before reinserting the aligner.
Other Behavior Modifications You’ll Need to Consider
You will also need to curb certain habits regarding your mouth while you’re under treatment. For example, the following behaviors are not acceptable while wearing your aligner:
- Chewing gum, as it can become stuck or entangled in the aligner.
- Sucking on candies, as they leave behind a filmy, sugary residue that can lead to tooth decay.
- Chewing on plastic, such as pens and straws. This can lead to wearing down of the teeth, the aligner or both.
- It’s also quite unsanitary.
- You’ll need to stop grinding or clicking your teeth. If you grind in your sleep or aren’t sure if you do, talk to your orthodontist before you begin treatment.
Dietary Changes Due to Discomfort
While aligners are not known to cause outright pain in the vast majority of patients, there can be some discomfort. This is especially common whenever you switch to a new aligner at the end of the two-week cycle. You can take over-the-counter pain medication like Aleve or Advil to help. Some patients also use products like Ambesol or Orajel, if your gums are tender. If the discomfort lasts more than a few days or you notice a sore developing anywhere on your gums, call and let your provider know. He or she may want to see you in the office to check on your condition.
If eating hard foods is uncomfortable, you may want to make different food choices on days when your mouth is tender. Instead of ordering a salad, consider some hearty soup or steamed veggies. If biting into a sandwich roll is unpleasant, consider a soft wrap instead. There is no need at all for you to make less-healthy choices, even on days when you’re experiencing discomfort.
The Final Result and Your Nutritional Health
No discussion of clear dental aligners and diet would be complete without mentioning that well-aligned teeth are excellent for good nutrition. By having your bite perfected, your ability to bite food off and chew it will be optimized. This will give you better digestion and more food choices for the rest of your life.
If you’re considering Invisalign, you need not worry about it limiting your healthy diet. You will be able to select the same foods as you do now, because you will not be wearing an aligner while eating. You may need to choose softer foods occasionally, especially on days when you are wearing a fresh aligner and your mouth may be a bit sore.
If you’re considering having your teeth aligned, make an appoinment at Nease and Higginbotham Orthodontics. We’d be happy to discuss your case and your options with you!