Invisalign is the answer to many people’s prayers for an alternative to braces. They’re sleek, low-profile, and not uncomfortable. Unlike braces, they don’t stick out much. That means you don’t have to learn how to enunciate your words all over again. But there are some unique restrictions on your day-to-day worth knowing, especially when it comes to diet. Learn what food or drink that might lead to bad news at your next dental exam with Invisalign.
Food & Drink Affecting Plaque Buildup
You might understandably think that clear spirits like vodka might not affect your teeth. But alcohol can leave trace sugars between your teeth and your Invisalign retainer. These sugars provide oral bacteria with the food they need to multiply, leading to increased plaque buildup.
While not firmly linked yet, alcoholism correlates with higher tooth decay. Given that information, beer, mead, whiskey, and even straight vodka can impact your plaque levels, which, if unremoved, can develop into tartar, then cavities, and eventually gum disease.
Needless to say, ice cream, soda, slush drinks, milk, juice, or any drink with sugar in it can have that much worse effect on plaque buildup. Even a dash of lime juice in water can lead to plaque. The more sugar you give oral bacteria undisturbed by brushing teeth or mouth rinsing with water, the more plaque can thrive.
Having mentioned all that, a good, thorough brushing of your teeth and aligners — along with flossing — should take care of all your plaque concerns. You can drink (or eat, in the case of ice cream) these “essentials” to your heart’s content if you have time for the necessary hygiene! But “all things in moderation” is probably better for your health overall.
Drinks & Staining
While there’s definitely a grey area in distinguishing one dental shade from another, many drinks do cause noticeable extrinsic staining (colour pigments seeping past the outer enamel of your teeth). If you’re not careful, your teeth could be stained as much as your aligners, at which point, teeth whitening and new aligners might be your only recourse for a light enough smile.
As you might be able to guess, anything that can stain your teeth on its own can stain your Invisalign aligners that much more. The big offenders for tooth discolouration are:
- Red wine
- Chewing tobacco
- Black tea
Try to avoid these offenders as much as you can while you’re on your Invisalign journey. Without an immediate visit to the bathroom to brush your teeth, staining can reach your aligners.
Some wearers experience stains while drinking anything but water. Coffee, red wine, tobacco, and tea might seem obvious to avoid staining — but even a lightly shaded white wine can stain your aligners, and maybe even your teeth. It’s best to make water your go-to drink for the duration of your time with Invisalign.
Smoking & Staining
Smoking tobacco or cannabis is about as effective at staining your teeth than chewing tobacco — and we see this discoloration in patients who smoke regularly. Vaping can also cause similar discolouration.
Foods Affecting Fit
While staining and plaque affect the enamel of your teeth first and foremost, some food and drink can interfere with the orthodontic function of your aligners. If something you ate becomes stuck between your teeth, it can cause a great deal of discomfort, and it can undermine the way your aligners work.
Sticky foods like taffy or chewing gum can stick in between your teeth or even on your teeth’ surface. That extra material can interfere quite a bit, so it’s crucial to avoid this type. If your fit is off, it could throw off the orthodontic process.
Sometimes stringy meats like steak or chicken can become lodged between teeth. Unless you have time to floss thoroughly after these foods, you may find meat gets stuck and hinders the tight fit required for Invisalign. Like sticky foods, if your fit is off, it could throw off the orthodontic process.
Chewing ice cubes, or crunching down on hard candies or popcorn kernels can damage your teeth, with or without Invisalign. On your teeth, severe damage to your teeth can lead to full or partial crowns, also called inlays or onlays. If damage to your teeth is slight, then a dental bond might do the trick.
But if you bite into hard foods while wearing your aligners, that might crack or break the aligners, meaning you’ll need replacements. Even small cracks can alter the necessary pressures.
Your dentist moulds the plastics making up your aligners with heat. If you drink a very hot beverage with your aligners in, you could warp the plastic, so it might not put pressure on teeth in the right places.
When in Doubt Choose Water
You may find the hygiene requirements with Invisalign a bit intense, but the struggle might be worth it. By living with less food and drink every day to save time on hygiene, some Invisalign patients feel healthier! If you feel up to the challenges and want a smoother look to your orthodontics, ask your dentist about Invisalign today!