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Your Top Invisalign Clear Aligner Questions Answered

I’m Dr. Ella Osborn, your orthodontist here at Seaport Smiles, and today I’m going to answer some of the questions my patients always ask about Invisalign clear aligners.

How do I clean my aligners?

The best way to clean your Invisalign aligners is to brush them with a little soap, water or toothpaste. For maximum cleanliness, you should do this ideally, after every meal if you want to keep them very, very clear. You can also use the cleaning crystals that come in your Invisalign kit, or denture cleaner solution that you can get at the CVS or Amazon. It works very well and you can do it once a day to keep them optimally clean.

How long do I have to wear my aligners each day? 

You want to make sure that you’re wearing your aligners 22 hours a day. You only want to take them out when you’re eating and brushing your teeth. You want to put them back in as quickly as possible, because they’re only moving your teeth when they’re in your mouth.

What can I drink with my Invisalign?

You can drink water and clear liquids that will not stain your trays. Trays is just another word for aligners. A good rule of thumb is if you spill something on a white shirt or your carpet, and it stains, it will probably stain your aligners as well. Stained aligners are no less effective than perfectly clear ones, they just don’t look as invisible.

What should I expect after I receive my aligners?

So of course, there’s a little bit of discomfort when your teeth are starting to move. Aligners put pressure on your teeth – an orthodontic force – that activates your body to respond and allows the teeth to move to a beautiful smile. Of course, you will feel some pressure and a little bit of tightness, especially when you receive your first aligner. That will start a few hours after you get the trays. It’s very normal. And it’s what we want, because it means that your teeth are starting to respond to the force and move.

Every tray after that is usually just tight and doesn’t really cause any kind of discomfort. A little bit like Spanx, if you know what I’m talking about. After that, once in a while, you may get to a tray where you feel a little bit of extra pressure, like you did with the very first one. We’re often doing different things and treatment during different times. So it’s very common to have different levels of discomfort throughout.

What should I do about the discomfort?

I always say why tolerate pain if you don’t have to. So it’s perfectly reasonable and encouraged if you can, to take some Tylenol to help manage that mild discomfort that you may feel.

Will my speech change with Invisalign?

Patients often want to know if their speech will change with Invisalign clear aligners. It’s very common for the first few days for there to be a slight lisp. Because there are different materials now on your teeth and your tongue has to adjust. The lisp can be minimized by making an extra effort to enunciate and to speak as much as you can. You’ll adjust within a couple of days and speak perfectly normally very soon.

Can I smoke with my Invisalign?

We discourage smoking in general, of course, but as far as smoking and Invisalign, smoking with your aligners in will cause them to be discolored. They’ll take on a stained, yellowish color, which is not aesthetically pleasing. So if you must smoke, please remove your aligners first.

Do I need to do anything special now that I have Invisalign?

The attachments on your teeth are cleaned just like your teeth are cleaned. So you want to make sure that you brush them well, just like your teeth and you floss between every tooth. There’s really nothing different with having Invisalign compared to regular oral hygiene. You just want to make sure that you’re thorough, and that you brush and floss after you eat, and before you put your aligners back in.

Why do you need to brush and floss after eating before putting the aligners back in? This is very important as you want to clean your teeth before you wrap them up again. If you wrap them up again, and they’re covered in sugar or residual food, that can start to cause cavities or other issues. So you want to make sure that you’re very thorough, this is very important.

Can I wear my Invisalign while playing sports?

Patients are very active and they love to play sports. Contact sports are great fun, and you can leave your aligners in when you’re playing any kind of sport, even swimming. You may have to wear a mouthguard over them, and we encourage you to do that. And you can do that with no issues, any mouth guard that you can get at a store will work.

Now that I have Invisalign do I still need to go to the dentist?

Absolutely. Everything is the same. Your oral hygiene is very important. So you want to continue to see your dentist and hygienist for cleanings every six months and complete any treatment, if any is indicated by your dentist.

How do I take my aligners in and out?

At first, your aligners can be a little tight. So we provide you with a special little tool, a little hook that helps which is very useful at first. When you are going to remove your aligners, you want to start on the inside in the back, and hook and pull up a little and away from your teeth. Pull away from the attachments across until it’s removed.

To put your aligners back in, you want to do the opposite and start in the front. Push down and then work your way backwards. When placing your aligners, it’s very, very important to do something called massaging the attachments. massaging attachments is critical for the efficacy of your aligners. And what that means is with your thumb and forefinger, and quite literally squeeze the teeth, especially those that have attachments to make sure that they’re locked all the way down. You want to squeeze from the top down to the bottom, pass the attachment to the gumline and really make sure that they’re fully fully engaged. And you want to do this with very active pressure.

We always say that when you’re massaging your attachments, you’re getting a very, very deep tissue massage, not a gentle calming one. Why is it so important? It really engages your attachments in your aligners and puts the most amount of orthodontic force that the aligners can give. This is critical if they’re going to do their job to their fullest extent. Remember to wash your hands with soap and water before removing your aligners and before putting them back in.

Do you still have questions about Invisalign or want to know if Invisalign is right for you? Give us a call at 617-752-2220 or go online to schedule your complimentary, no-obligation consultation. We offer in-office and virtual appointments for your convenience.


Seaport Smiles is located in Boston, MA and is the only multi-disciplinary orthodontic and craniofacial surgery practice in New England. They offer a full range of facial plastic surgery,skin care, and orthodontic services.