Guide to Clear Trays that Move Teeth

Listen to Dr. Cooper’s Podcast on this topic:

First things first, whatever you do, wear them all the time.  If the trays are not in your mouth they are not moving your teeth.

Keep ‘em clean:

Both your teeth and your trays need to stay clean and free from food grime and germs.

Why?  Food and sugar attract bacteria and bacteria likes an acidic environment to make cavities and gum/bone disease that is shown by puffy, red or bleeding gums.  Not to mention it makes your teeth look dirty and your breath stinky.

How?  Brush your teeth and trays at least twice a day.  The most important time to brush your teeth and trays is before bed, then only drink water after you have cleaned your teeth and trays.

Your mouth actually gets really dry at night. Because it gets dry, the bacteria on your tongue and gums and teeth are not washed away by your saliva and it makes you even more prone to the damage they can do if you leave the food, bacteria & acid on your teeth all night.

As an added bonus, you can floss normally.  See the video below for the proper way to floss:

Taking the trays in & out:

Sometimes the trays feel like they are going to be stuck in your mouth, especially the first set you get.  This is a common feeling until you get used to taking the trays in and out.  You can also order Aligner Removal Tools – we like to find them on Amazon – to help pull the back of the trays down first.  Then you may need to push or pull the trays from the side to get them off the front teeth.  Every set of aligners has its own, custom attachments for you, so there is no right or wrong way to get the aligners in and out, you just have to try different ways on your own set until you are comfortable.

Eating and drinking with the trays:

Take the trays out and you can eat or drink whatever you would normally.

With the trays in the only officially sanctioned drink is….water.

Some people claim they drink other things with them in successfully…none are officially OK. So drink at your own risk with trays in.  Here is the common list of questions on beverages:

  • Coffee or Tea:
    • It does not have sugar if you drink it black, but it acts as the opposite of a whitening tray. It will make your teeth dark.
    • If you have cream and sugar in it then you will have to clean the trays and teeth well
    • If its hot, it could cause the plastic to weaken, possibly deform, and render that set of trays useless because they won’t move your teeth in to place
  • Soda/Sports Drinks/Energy Drinks:
    • Acid will cause cavities and tooth scars
    • Sugar will cause cavities and tooth scars
  • Wine/Beer/Spirits:
    • Acid will cause cavities and tooth scars
    • Sugar will cause cavities and tooth scars
    • Darker liquids act as the opposite of a whitening tray. It will make your teeth dark.
    • Lighter liquids with low sugar content alternated with water to neutralize the pH is the only way to try to circumvent the system – but this is not

Basic Rules:

  • Sugar with trays on will increase likelihood of tooth scars (white or brown) and cavities
  • Acid with trays on will accelerate likelihood of tooth scars (white or brown) and cavities
  • Dark colored things will stain your teeth and make them darker instead of whiter
  • Hot drinks may deform trays and move your teeth to the wrong place

What if the trays aren’t fitting?

Double check the aligner number and make sure it’s the right set.  If not, put the right set in.

Did the old set fit really well with your teeth?  If so, then use Chewy’s – or really anything squishy that won’t damage your trays to chew on to seat your trays every time you put them in your mouth.

If the old set was not fitting well, then wear it another 7-14 days and ensure it is fitting well before switching to the next set of trays.

If the current trays were fitting well and then there was some damage to the trays, then move to the next trays and wear them the whole time you would have worn the damaged set plus the whole time you would have worn that set of trays.  Then if any issues are still present, make an appointment with your Orthodontist.

If they were fitting, there is no damage and then they stop fitting as well.  Look back at your schedule and ensure you have been wearing the trays 22+ hours per day (really, really ask yourself to be honest with yourself).  If you can honestly say that for the last 7 consecutive days you have been wearing the trays 22+ hours per day, then call and ask for an appointment.  Otherwise, sit yourself down and give a pep talk and re-commit to wearing the trays 22+ hours per day.

Attachments falling off:

Attachments are the tooth colored shapes that are bonded to your teeth with clear tray treatment.  They give the plastic an extra spot to push on to get the best movement of your teeth.

Attachments will fall off every once in a while.  Luckily, the clear trays will keep your teeth mostly in place without the attachment.  Sometimes you don’t even have to bond it back on.

Keep the trays in your mouth and 1 set previous (and clean it) in case the attachment needs to be put back on at your Orthodontist’s office.

Whitening Teeth & Trays:

You can whiten your teeth with clear trays, even with attachments.  If your dentist or orthodontist has given you some whitening gel then you can use that.  Any over-the-counter formulation will work.  The higher the concentration, the less time it takes to get the teeth white, but the more chance for tooth sensitivity.

If the trays are getting cloudy or stained, begin using a foam – at time of writing we like EverSmile Foam – that you can put in the trays and it will help keep them clean.  If you need to clean the current tray use a retainer cleaner that foams in a cup to try to jump start cleaning it.  Otherwise, use a different tooth brush than your regular one and brush with hydrogen peroxide on the trays only – not your mouth!