Updated September 27, 2021
If you are considering ways to upgrade your smile, you may be thinking about Invisalign. These devices are clear plastic aligners that fit over teeth. They are less noticeable, less permanent, and less invasive than traditional metal braces.
People with traditional braces have to be careful about the food they eat. They may also experience trouble speaking clearly. Patients who wear plastic aligners wonder about this too. The good news is that because of the way they are designed, Invisalign problems with eating and talking tend to be easier to deal with.
Eating Your Favorite Foods
Wearing braces means saying “no” to a number of foods. Biting into an apple or corn-on-the-cob, or chewing anything hard like nuts, ice, or a popcorn kernel can dislodge or break brackets or bend wires. Chewy, sticky caramel and gum are definitely on the list of forbidden foods.
Invisalign, on the other hand, does not get in the way of enjoying any favorite foods. This is because the trays are removable, and patients can—and should—take them off while eating.
Unlike traditional metal braces, which are stuck on the teeth for years or months at a time, Invisalign trays are specifically designed to be removable. As long as you’re wearing the trays for 20-22 hours each day, you’ll get the full benefit.
Patients should not wear Invisalign while eating or drinking anything but water. While this might seem inconvenient, it means that patients can eat whatever they want. It is fine to indulge in all types of goodies without the fear of needing an emergency dental appointment to fix damaged braces.
It can be tempting, especially around special events or the holidays, to leave trays in while eating or drinking. Patients might not want to draw attention to themselves by popping the trays in and out. Or, they may be concerned about getting in the prescribed number of hours. But wearing Invisalign while eating or drinking even a little bit is a bad idea, as it can damage the trays. Food and sugars can get trapped in them too, promoting decay. Along the same lines, avoid gum since it will stick to the trays.
Drinks can be a problem, too: Coffee, tea and red wine will stain the plastic. Hot beverages might warp them. Drinking through a straw can minimize contact between a drink and the Invisalign trays, but it is usually best to skip them or take the trays out.
While patients can eat any food during Invisalign treatment, they may be surprised that they do not always want to. Aligner trays are meant to fit tight and are in the process of gradually forcing teeth into a new position. This can cause some mild discomfort, especially on the first day or two of a new set. Over-the-counter pain relievers usually do the trick, but in the meantime, it might hurt to eat certain foods. Switching to soft items that don’t require heavy chewing might be necessary for a while.
Protecting Trays While You Eat Or Drink
Believe it or not, removing trays during meals or snacks sometimes results in more Invisalign problems than eating or drinking. It is possible to damage or misplace trays if they are not put somewhere safe when they are out of the mouth. Worse yet, they could be accidentally thrown in the trash. Using a case is recommended whenever they are removed.
Putting trays back in right after you eat or drink can be problematic too. Brush first, when possible, or at the very least rinse both the trays and the mouth with water. This will prevent bacteria from growing under the trays and potentially causing bad breath and cavities.
Whether using Invisalign, Byte, or Smile Direct Club products, replacing a lost or damaged tray can be expensive and might delay the treatment schedule. So enjoy all the foods you love, but be sure to keep track of your trays while you do.
Talking While Wearing Invisalign
Invisalign, like any orthodontic appliance that stays in a patient’s mouth, may take a few days to get used to. Invisalign trays completely cover the teeth, essentially making them look and feel slightly thicker than normal. Some people will experience a very slight, and temporary, change in speech for the first couple of days after starting Invisalign.
If this does happen, it will most likely affect the pronunciation of “s,” “sh,” or “th” sounds. Often, however, the problem is minor enough that other people will probably not notice it. Any speech problems should go away completely once the mouth and tongue adjust and adapt to wearing Invisalign. It is unlikely, but if there is a speech problem that does not go away, talk to the dentist. Invisalign is supposed to fit snugly to the teeth and not slip or slide around. There could be a problem with how the tray was molded. This could make it either too tight, too loose, or not seated properly on the teeth. Any of these could make it hard to talk.
Invisalign is made out of very thin plastic, and the vast majority of people who use both Invisalign and traditional braces don’t experience any speech impediments. It’s also pretty unlikely that someone would develop a lisp with each new set of aligner trays. Once a patient has gotten used to wearing them, each new set of trays is similar enough to the previous ones that there is very little adjustment the mouth and tongue need to make.
If you find yourself feeling self-conscious at first about speaking while wearing Invisalign, one of the best ways to move past it is to simply practice speaking. It may seem silly, but reading aloud (to yourself or others) and talking with people will help you get used to talking with Invisalign trays even faster. After all, the goal of repositioning your teeth with Invisalign is to help you have a healthy smile you can feel confident about.
If you’re ready to take the leap and try Invisalign, we recommend using our tool to make an appointment with an Invisalign specialist near you.