Invisalign® with drinks & beverages.

Complications - hot temperatures, staining, tooth decay. / Is drinking coffee, tea, and soda OK? - General rules and precautions.

What's wearing
Invisalign® like?

Drinking with your aligners in place is not recommended.

The maker of the Invisalign® system (Align Technology, Inc.) states that you should remove your aligners before drinking most types of beverages. This page outlines some of the reasons that lie behind their recommendation.

In general, the problems with beverages that may occur fall into one of two main categories. They are:

  • The effect that the drink might have on your aligners, such as warping or staining.
  • The possible harm that the drink might cause to your teeth, such as tooth decay or other damage.


1) Damage caused by drinks to Invisalign® aligners.

a) Dark beverages may stain invisible braces.

Beverages that have a strong coloring may cause Invisalign® aligners, or the debris that has accumulated on them (such as tartar), to stain.

This includes drinks like colas, tea, coffee and wine. But any type of tinted beverage, especially if consumed frequently, has the potential to cause this problem.

The new Invisalign® plastic.

In 2013, Align Technology began using a new material to make their Invisalign® aligners. While it's physical characteristics are superior to the old plastic in many ways, the company has stated that many doctors feel that it tends to stain more easily. So, this issue may be slightly more of a problem now than it has been in the past.

Solutions.
  • Each patient's experiences will vary. For some, the degree to which their aligners stain over the short two-week time span that they're worn may not be readily apparent and therefore not a significant problem.
  • Debris that has accumulated on the surface of aligners (such as tartar) may be what has picked up the stain. For remedies and best practices about cleaning appliances, visit this page.
An Invisalign®.

b) Hot liquids may warp your aligners.

It's possible for very hot liquids (coffee, tea, or soup) to warp removable tooth aligners.

  • Invisalign® appliances are just made out of thin plastic. [This goes for other brands too (ClearCorrect®, Simpli 5®), as well as clear plastic orthodontic retainers (Vivera®, Essix).]
  • When they're made, a sheet of the plastic is heat-softened and then vacuumed-formed (sucked down) over a model of your teeth to create their needed shape.

    That means, at least in theory, that a high-heat environment, like drinking a piping-hot cup of coffee, might soften an aligner up enough to distort it.

How much of a problem is this?

This is one of those issues that's probably more of a theoretical problem than a common one. But since ruining even one aligner is a relatively big, and possibly expensive, inconvenience, why take the chance?


2) Effects of beverages on your teeth when aligners are worn.

When you wear Invisalign®, it creates a barrier between your teeth and the rest of your mouth. And due to this isolation, the harmful effects of some types of drinks may be amplified.

A) Problems with sugary beverages.

Background.

Saliva provides a number of benefits for teeth. It creates a washing and cleansing effect. It also dilutes and buffers bacterial byproducts that can cause cavities or gum inflammation.

When clear braces are worn, the barrier they create inhibits these beneficial actions.

Beverages can seep inside Invisalign® aligners.

Sugary drinks that seep inside your aligner can promote tooth decay.

An example.

Take the situation where a sugary drink (soda, juice, sweetened coffee, etc...) is consumed while a person is wearing Invisalign®.

  • At least some of the beverage will seep into the interior of the aligners.
  • And once it has, it becomes a food source for the cavity-causing bacteria living in the dental plaque around the teeth.

Since the presence of the aligner tends to inhibit the flow of saliva, the tooth-damaging acids created by the bacteria won't be diluted and neutralized as effectively. The net effect can be one where the environment within the aligners is tipped towards active tooth decay formation.

The time and cost involved with repairing this type of damage can be substantial.

B) Potential problems with acidic beverages.

Acidic drinks, like soda and some fruit drinks, can leach mineral content from teeth. A person's potential for experiencing this type of damage is simply a function of how acidic the drink is and the duration of the tooth's exposure to it.

In those cases where an acidic beverage is allowed to pool inside a person's aligners:

  • Its concentration will not be as effectively diluted by saliva.
  • It may be held in close contact with the teeth for a comparatively prolonged period of time.

Both of these issues could, at least in theory, amplify the tooth-eroding potential of the beverage.


Drinking water when wearing Invisalign® is encouraged.

Sipping cool water while wearing your Invisalign® aligners is OK and, in fact, makes a great idea.

There is no potential for it to stain or warp your aligners. And any water that does seep inside will only help to dilute and flush away bacteria and bacterial byproducts that might cause damage to your teeth or inflame gums.

You don't have to give up your favorite beverages.

Of course, you can still continue to enjoy a cup of coffee, or any other drink, whenever you want. Just take your aligners out first.

Then, once you're finished, clean your teeth as is appropriate (brush and floss if you've eaten something, and rinse out with water) and then reinsert your appliances.

 

 

[Reference sources for this topic.]

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