I finally have photographic evidence that my teeth are really, really improving. I took my daughters to a function last week at which there was a professional photographer taking photos. Usually in such situations I just do my usual closed mouth, tight lipped, teeth concealing smile. However, this was a woman photographer and she was fierce! There was no way she was going to accept anything less than a full on toothy, Hollywood smile. So, in the interests of leaving there in one piece I went for it.
I am happy to endure a lot in pursuit of my Hollywood smile, but one thing that I’m not prepared to suffer is bad breath. I have begged my husband to tell me if he smells even the slightest whiff, but honestly, I think he is too kind to bring it up. My daughters, however, are another story and would gleefully revel in letting me know, so it’s them I am relying on as an early warning system. Nonetheless I’m absolutely pedantic about keeping my aligners clean and have scoured the internet for tips on cleaning Invisalign.
My orthodontist’s suggestions for cleaning Invisalign involved cleaning them with a soft toothbrush and water (but no toothpaste) and soaking them daily in a solution of 1/10 parts bleach and water. However, I am squeamish about chemicals, and more importantly I suffer from Crohn’s disease, so the last thing I would ever do is put something in my mouth that might trigger a flare up of my illness. Not only that, I think the bleachy smell alone is enough to put me off- I don’t want to give myself excuses not to wear them.
Consequently, I have developed my own little Invisalign cleaning system, and am happy to report that three weeks in, both sets of aligners have stayed crystal clear and odour free.
Firstly, and I think this is crucial, I don’t ever eat or drink anything except water whilst wearing my aligners. I am also absolutely fastidious about rinsing them under running water after I remove them from my mouth. Believe me, this is important -if you forget to do it by the time you come to reinsert them they are less than fragrant.
Secondly, before I put them back in I do the full brush, floss, rinse routine, almost without exception. The only times I haven’t been able to do this because I have forgotten my toothbrush I have at least flushed my mouth thoroughly with water before putting them back in, and then taken them out and brushed as soon as I get the chance. I do notice when I do this that they have a very slight smell- personally, I don’t think it is ideal, even though my ortho’s assistant says she does it all the time. As well as brushing and flossing my teeth I also give the aligners a quick going over with the toothbrush before I re-insert them. There’s nothing worse than not cleaning Invisalign before you put them in your mouth. I have read of people using pre-pasted disposable toothbrushes for when they are out and about. I haven’t tried them, but you can find them here.
Lastly, when I clean and floss for the last time at night I soak them in a denture bath (a small plastic tub) with water and a Polident tablet. This gives them a slight pinky tinge, which rinses off under running water, but definitely makes them seem fresher. I should point out that Invisalign expressly recommend against this, although it was suggested to me by my orthodontist’s assistant as the way she cleans hers.. I wouldn’t want to lead anyone astray…
Just thought I would write a quick post about teeth bleaching or whitening with Invisalign because I get a lot of queries about Invisalign whitening and how to whiten your teeth with Invisalign. You probably can’t tell from my previous photos, because, in truthfulness, I am embarrassed and only pick the best pictures, but my teeth are really quite yellow.
Fortunately one of the great things about Invisalign is that you can use your aligner trays to bleach your teeth. Unfortunately, you have to do it before you get your buttons (attachments) on- so in my case (and I’m not sure if that is standard) within the first four weeks. For those of you who haven’t heard of attachments yet, stick around, because I’m sure you’ll be hearing me moan about them in the near future! In short, they are small blobs of a tooth coloured substance attached to your teeth to help give the Invisalign aligners more grip.
For the first week I was still too consumed by the newness of it all to get around to bleaching, but last night I thought I would give it a shot. I can’t bleach my crown, but it is being replaced at the end of the process, so I have decided on balance to bleach anyway and just deal with having a mismatched crown for now. Let’s be honest, my teeth are pretty dire anyway, one slightly mismatched tooth will barely make a difference.
The system my dentist has given me is a home bleaching kit called nitewhite, that has 22% peroxide. (Note- if you live in the UK you can’t buy this there because it’s stronger than is allowed- you can order it from Amazon here though with shipping to the UK). For tooth whitening with Invisalign you use your invisalign aligners as the bleaching tray and stick one spot of bleach into each tooth space. My orthodontist charged me $40 for the bleaching, which seems fairly reasonable to me, particularly when compared to the cost of the zoom whitening system that my dentist suggested.
I merrily filled my aligners with the bleaching gel last night, taking care to put only as much liquid as suggested into each one. Nonetheless when I put them in the gel squirted out the edge of the aligners onto my gums. I spent 10 minutes or so mopping up the excess with a cotton bud.
They actually made my aligners feel tighter again, more like the second day of wear, so perhaps it is advisable to do this only on the second week of each set, I imagine that in the first few days it might make them more uncomfortable.
This morning, I jumped out of bed and inspected, and my teeth are definitely whiter. Probably by 2 or 3 shades at least. However, one of my bottom teeth, (and of course, one of the ones at the front) has an area that is significantly whiter than the rest. Really a kind of Hollywood “gleam”. It looks like I have dropped a spot of liquid paper onto my tooth, but vigorous brushing has shown me that it is not going to change. Strangely it also appears more opaque than the surrounding tooth. Really, I have no idea how this happened or what I am supposed to do about it. I think in the meantime I’ll just keep going, bleaching each night and hoping that they match up, and then ask my orthodontist about it at the next appointment.
I am writing this second element of this post another day on, after a second night of tooth whitening with Invisalign. Nothing new has happened with the odd white spot, but the rest of my teeth are looking MUCH whiter. In fact, there is something strangely addictive about this whole whitening thing. I hope I can temper my enthusiasm so I don’t end up with one of those crazy over-bleached smiles…of course, I would then have to get a serious orange suntan to match to get the full Eurotrash look going on- and with my pale aspirin English Rose complexion that is never going to happen.. but if I start posting pictures of an over-tanned, over-bleached me, feel free to let me know via the comments form! I am supposed to keep going for several more nights, but I may have a break for a bit as I noticed that my gums are sensitive and prone to bleeding the morning after the bleaching.
Still, my husband, who has always been fervently against me changing pretty much any aspect of my appearance has admitted that my teeth look much better whiter. I actually think it makes me look younger, or maybe I’m just flattering myself! Lord knows, it wouldn’t be the first time.
It seems to me that this might actually be a good thing to do at the beginning of the Invisalign process as a motivational tool. It can be quite trying getting used to wearing the aligners, and this bleaching has acted as a little boost, a metaphorical pep talk, in helping me imagine how great my teeth might look once they are finished.
The only problem is that once you start scrutinising your teeth so intently, as Invisalign has a way of making you do, you find more and more faults. I have never liked my teeth, but I never thought they were that bad. Now, I can tell you what I dislike about the shape, position and angle of each one. I seem to remember writing at the beginning of all this that I was looking for nice teeth, not perfect teeth. I think, maybe, I just need to get out more..
Here is a picture of the offending tooth with its white spot, (bottom centre) and I didn’t even have to enhance this picture to make them look whiter. Yay! You can see in the picture just how mismatched that ugly old crown on the top row now looks, but my teeth matched it perfectly before, so maybe it’s a good thing that it no longer matches!!
A quick PS a week later. I have found that after about 3 consecutive nights of whitening with Invisalign my gums get sore and cracked. I think it is best to bleach 2 nights, followed by 2 nights bleach free and repeat as necessary- please let me know whether you have a better method
This is the product that I used for tooth whitening with Invisalign. I purchased it through my orthodontist but it is also available here through Amazon a lot cheaper!
For people who don’t yet have Invisalign trays there are also kits that come with a tray for you to use so you get the same bleaching effect without needing Invisalign.