If you have recently started to work with an orthodontist or cosmetic dentist to straighten your teeth with clear aligners, then you may be surprised to find that the braces smell a bit when they are removed from the mouth. If this foul odor is bothersome to you, find out how you can easily get rid of it.
Clean With Soap
Clear aligners are made from a thermoplastic material that is hypoallergenic, flexible, and biocompatible. The aligners are safe and effective when it comes to moving the teeth, and the material is thin and transparent. However, the aligners are also slightly porous due to the flexible bonds that make up the thermoplastic. While this is ideal to move the teeth slowly and consistently without a great deal of discomfort, some debris can work its way into the openings along the aligners. Plaque will stick and collect on the braces and so will bacteria.
Two types of bacteria will eat away at the dental plaque in your mouth. These bacteria include the gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria that live in the oral cavity. The gram-positive bacteria eat the sugars in the plaque and create an acid that eats away at the dental enamel. The gram-negative bacteria eat the protein in the plaque and create gaseous sulfur byproducts that cause the mouth to smell. The gram-negative bacteria are responsible for bad breath and they can also cause your clear aligners to smell.
Since acid and sulfur producing bacteria are bad for both the health and smell of your mouth and aligners, you should pay attention to cleaning practices that kill gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. Fortunately, cleaning products that advertise their ability to kill bacteria must be able to eliminate both gram-positive and gram-negative microorganisms. This means that a simple antibacterial soap can be utilized to clean your clear aligner braces.
Use antibacterial soap to clean your clear aligners thoroughly once or twice each day. Use a clean cloth, like a washcloth, to apply the soap and rinse the aligners with warm water. Never use hot water on your aligners or you may warp the thermoplastic material. When you are done rinsing the aligners, slip them back on your mouth.
If you notice a film on the aligners after you clean them with the soap, then this is a sign that the plaque has started to harden into tartar. Soak your clear braces in a small glass of white vinegar to help release some of the tartar.
Do Not Use A Hard Toothbrush
It is necessary to brush your clear aligners whenever they are removed and then placed back in your mouth. However, if you use your normal toothbrush to do the brushing, then you may end up scraping the thermoplastic. This will leave ridges or grooves in the aligners where more bacteria and plaque can gather. Not only will this encourage the aligners to smell, but this will make them appear milky or white instead of transparent.
Soft toothbrushes can help to reduce scratching issues, so choose a brush that is labeled as extra soft or super soft. These brushes are sometimes sold as post-surgical varieties or they are marketed as brushes for sensitive teeth and gums.
Do not use toothpaste to clean your aligners. You should instead use plain water in between your cleanings with antibacterial soap. You can also purchase cleaning powders or fluids that are sold specifically for cleaning clear aligners and retainers. Cleaning wipes are also available and can reduce your need for a toothbrush altogether. This is also true of cleaning tablets that can remove plaque and food particles when you remove your aligners to eat. Just make sure to stay away from tablets and cleaners that are meant for dentures. These products will often cause yellow stains to appear on the thermoplastic. Contact a dentist like David Jackson, DDS for more information.