Making the choice to start Invisalign treatment is the first step toward straighter teeth. New users learn that they must keep the clear plastic aligners in for 20 to 22 hours each day. Dentists also tell patients to remove Invisalign when eating. But what about drinking? Is it okay to have a morning coffee or sip a beverage throughout the day while wearing Invisalign?
Drinking with Invisalign is not a good idea. In general, water is the only liquid that is safe to drink with Invisalign trays in the mouth. Drinking any other beverages might harm the plastic trays and the patient’s teeth.
That said, the Dental Health Society understands that there are situations where removing Invisalign might be inconvenient. Understanding why it is so important to do so when eating or drinking—and the rare conditions when it might be okay—will help patients make good decisions.
Why Invisalign and Beverages Don’t Mix
It surprises some patients that they should remove Invisalign trays while drinking as well as eating. After all, there is no chewing involved, so no issues with sticky or crunchy food that might damage the trays. Still, there are other reasons to avoid taking a drink with Invisalign.
Increased Chance of Tooth Decay
Any liquid other than water likely contains sugars or acids. Even unsweetened soda, tea, or even clear, carbonated beverages like sparkling water are acidic.
These beverages get underneath the Invisalign trays when they are left in the mouth. The sugars and acids sit, trapped, on top of the teeth. Saliva won’t be able to naturally rinse any of it away. As time passes, decay will attack the tooth enamel, causing cavities.
Everyone is familiar with plastic food containers that still smell like the food that was in them, even after a thorough washing. The same can be true of plastic aligner trays. The same acids and sugars that cause cavities also can result in bad breath. Even after brushing and flossing the teeth, odors from beverages might linger on Invisalign trays.
Part of Invisalign’s appeal is that they are hard to see in a person’s mouth. But the clear plastic can get dingy and discolored by certain beverages. In addition to sugars and acids, many drinks also contain dyes that will stain Invisalign trays. And it’s not just artificial coloring that can be a problem. Natural colorings in things like cranberry juice, coffee, or red wine are some of the worst things when it comes to stains on Invisalign. And once the tint sets in, no amount of cleaning will get them clear again. All a patient can do is wait until it is time to move on to the next set of trays.
Invisalign treatment works because of the precise shape of each set of trays. Their position in the mouth is what moves the teeth into alignment. Drinking hot beverages with the trays in can soften the plastic, making them warp or change shape. This can interfere with the desired movement of the teeth. Teeth might not move at all, or worse, move in the wrong direction. Even though the patient wears each set of trays for only about 2 weeks, it can disrupt the treatment plan.
Is There a Safe Way to Drink with Invisalign?
There is nothing that makes drinking with Invisalign 100% safe for the plastic trays or the teeth. Unless a patient sticks to only water while the trays are in place, there is always a chance of doing some damage.
There are, however, some things that patients can do to lessen the negative effects of drinking with Invisalign trays on their teeth.
Opt for Clear Beverages
Choosing clear or light-colored drinks over dark liquids. Clear soda or white wine has less chance of staining Invisalign than coffee, grape juice, or red wine. Remember, though, that even though lighter beverages might not discolor the trays, their sugars, acids, and carbonation can cause cavities and bad breath.
Is Alcohol Worse for Invisalign than Non-Alcoholic Drinks?
All beverages (besides water) have at least some sugar and acid, even if they do not taste sweet or acidic. The alcohol content of a beverage does not matter when it comes to Invisalign. Both can cause the same type of damage. So, one can drink beer, wine, or spirits with the same results as soda or juice—possibly harming their Invisalign. This is why nothing but water is recommended.
Can You Drink Using a Straw with Invisalign? And Does That Help?
Patients who have had their teeth whitened are often told to drink through a straw. This way, liquids do not have time to linger and re-stain their whitened teeth. Unfortunately, the same concept does not work quite as well for drinking with Invisalign. True, a straw might make some of the liquid bypass the front teeth. But saliva will mingle with the beverage and move it throughout the mouth. Chances are that a good amount of the drink will make its way under the tray and have contact with the teeth.
The Best Way to Drink with Invisalign
If someone forgets or purposely does not take out their Invisalign trays to have a drink, it is not the end of the world. By cleaning them as soon as possible afterward, it is possible to avoid major problems.
Rinsing the aligners is recommended right after removing them and right before putting them back in. This is also good advice if someone has a beverage with them in. Take them out as soon as it is convenient and rinse them in clear water.
Brushing is even better. As soon as possible, brush both the teeth and the aligner trays. Invisalign requires special handling when it comes to cleaning. Abrasive toothpaste, denture cleaners, colored soaps, and hard toothbrushes are not recommended. Neither is hot water. All of these things can damage the trays. Instead, the best way to keep Invisalign clean is with a soft-bristled brush and clear liquid hand or dish soap. Rinse the trays well with clear water before replacing them.
For the Best Results, Remove Invisalign When You Drink
By far, the most effective way for patients to protect their Invisalign trays and their teeth is to take them out whenever they drink anything but water. It is also important to store them properly while they are out of the mouth, so they do not get lost or damaged.
Remember, though, that Invisalign should only be out of the mouth for 2 to 4 hours each day. Taking the trays out for meals, plus for every sip throughout the day will add up fast.
Invisalign treatment requires some self-discipline to be successful. Part of that is a commitment to keeping them in the proper amount of time. This is why many people find it necessary to limit their drinking to mealtime. The rest of the day, water can quench their thirst and keep their Invisalign trays in shape to do their job.
Are you thinking that Invisalign might be right for you? Use our search tool to make an appointment with an Invisalign provider in your area.