When It's Okay To Remove Clear Teeth Aligners -- And When It's Not

28 September 2015
 Categories: Dentist, Articles


The advent of clear, removable teeth-aligning trays has made straightening teeth much more convenient for adults. These aligners don't require an orthodontist; a general dentist with the proper training can provide them. New trays are provided as the teeth gradually shift.

Many people look forward to having clear braces they can take out whenever they want. However, removing the device frequently and keeping it out for several hours is counterproductive. If you're interested in getting removable braces, understand that you must leave the appliance in most hours of the day or your teeth will take a very long time to become properly straightened.

When You Should Remove an Aligner

Before You Eat

It may seem incomprehensible that anyone would want to eat with the aligner in place. People tend to do this because a new set fits very tightly. It can be a hassle to remove and put back on, especially if someone just wants a mid-day snack.

You should always remove the aligner before you eat. First of all, the plastic can become damaged due to chewing force. Second, chewing while wearing an aligning tray is usually not very pleasant. Third, food can get stuck in the appliance. 

Dentists recommend that patients who wear aligners brush after eating. That means you would need to take the device off anyway after you eat. You may need to eat less often if you tend to munch throughout the day. 

When You're Drinking Anything But Water

Coffee, tea and soft drinks that aren't clear can stain the plastic. Hot beverages can warp them. Sugary beverages, including fruit juice, slip into the aligners, which hold that sugar against your teeth until you take the device out. That's hard on enamel and can lead to tooth decay. 

Sipping on sugary or acidic beverages all day can be hard on teeth as it is, but at least the protective effects of saliva help. With an aligner, the normal amount of saliva doesn't reach the teeth.

Your best option is to drink coffee, soda and other beverages while you eat and before you brush. If you can't brush after drinking a sugary beverage, at least take the appliance out and rinse it with water -- and rinse your teeth as well. 

Drinking water is encouraged. The trays can make your mouth a bit dry, which encourages bacteria growth. 

When You're Tempted to Remove the Tray -- But Shouldn't

While You're Sleeping

If the aligner feels uncomfortable when you're sleeping, you'll be tempted to take it out. Unfortunately, it's normal for a new tray to make your teeth and gums feel a bit tender and achy. You need to be vigilant. If you keep the devices out for six or more hours while you sleep, your teeth will probably never reach the level of straightening you want.

During Social Occasions

Unless this is an extremely important social event at which you need to look your absolute best, keep the aligner in place. It's difficult for anybody to see the device even when they're very close to you. Taking it out every time you go on a date or out with friends will hinder your teeth-straightening progress.

What You Can Do Now

Set an appointment with a dentist who provides clear removable braces and learn whether you're a good candidate for these devices. They are generally best for people with mildly crooked teeth, or for individuals who wore braces as a youngster but have experienced some gradual teeth shifting since then. Once you get your tray, keep it in as many hours per day as you possibly can. The more hours you wear the aligner, the faster you'll get the results you want. 

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