Minneapolis, MN – If you do a quick Google search with the phrase “does Invisalign cause cavities” you’ll find several entries from blogs claiming that a patient all of the sudden developed cavities while in Invisalign treatment. But does wearing Invisalign make your more prone to developing cavities?
“The short answer to that is no, Invisalign treatment doesn’t make you more prone to cavities,” says a Minneapolis orthodontist, a St. Paul orthodontist. “The best way to fight against tooth decay is by properly brushing and flossing your teeth, and by having a straighter smile. Crooker, overlapped and crowded smiles are harder to clean, and therefore more prone to decay.”
So why would people think they should blame Invisalign for their cavity development?
One common concern is that while wearing Invisalign, patients prevent saliva from coming into contact with teeth, and washing away harmful bacteria. Your doctor explains that saliva is important to help keep the mouth clean – in fact, it’s the mouth’s natural defense against bacteria. And while the aligners do cover the teeth, simply upping your water intake during the day while wearing your aligners can help.
Another common question is whether you can create a breeding ground for bacteria by putting your trays in after you eat. And your doctor says this one isn’t so far-fetched.
“If you don’t clean your mouth out after you eat, and instead just immediately put your aligners in, you could be trapping harmful bacteria and food particles up against your teeth,” says your doctor. “While I don’t see many patients who develop cavities during treatment when I do see one, this is the primary reason.”
Your ORTHODONTIST advises all of her patients to follow one simple rule – don’t put your aligners in until after you have cleaned your teeth. And that means brushing and flossing after every meal and snack. Pack a travel toothbrush and toothpaste in your purse, briefcase, or school bag, and don’t forget the floss.
“Flossing is important to get the leftover food particles that simple brushing can leave behind,” says your ORTHODONTIST. “This is especially important before you put your aligners back in. Cavities form when the bacteria that already lives in our mouths comes into contact with the food we eat. This can create what is known as an acid attack, which eats away at the enamel. Over time, cavities form.”
That’s why brushing and flossing carefully before putting your aligners in is so important. It’s not enough to just brush in the morning and before bed, and only floss once a day. Any time food or drink come into contact with your teeth, you are leaving your mouth open to the possibility of cavities.
“If it is completely impossible to brush and floss before putting your aligners back in, be sure to drink plenty of water to wash away the remaining food particles,” says your doctor. “You can also chew a sugarless gum that contains xylitol for a few minutes before putting the aligners back in. Xylitol is a natural sweetener that research has proven can help reduce cavities. Chewing gum can help remove remaining food particles, and produces extra saliva that can help to clean the teeth. The xylitol will work to help protect your teeth.”
Your ORTHODONTIST offers the following as the proper steps after eating and drinking:
- Don’t brush your teeth as soon as you finish eating. This will give your mouth time to self-clean, and your mouth won’t be as sensitive from chewing.
- Drink plenty of water and swish it around after eating.
- Chew a sugar-free gum with xylitol for a few minutes, or until the flavor goes away.
- Floss your teeth carefully, then rinse with water.
- Gently brush your teeth, paying close attention to ridges and the back teeth where food particles may get lost. Don’t forget to brush your tongue.
- Rinse with water.
- Carefully clean your Invisalign aligners with soap and water before placing them back in your mouth.
Remember that having to stop in the middle of treatment to repair a cavity can set your entire treatment back. Take the time to properly care for your teeth, and Invisalign will be a snap.
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