Is it OK to drink beverages while wearing Invisalign®? - Staining / Tooth decay
Drinking while your aligners are in place is not recommended.
Align Technology, Inc. (the maker of the Invisalign® system) suggests that you should remove your aligners when you consume most types of beverages. On this page you find some of the reasoning that lies behind this blanket recommendation.
In general, the potential for problems falls into one of two general categories. They are:
- The effect that the beverage might have on your aligners, such as warping or staining.
- The possible harm that the drink might cause for your teeth, such as tooth decay or other damage.
1) Possible effects beverages may have on your Invisalign® aligners.
A) Hot liquids may warp your clear braces.
It's possible that consuming very hot liquids (coffee, tea, or soup) might warp your removable braces.
Invisalign® aligners are made out of plastic. When they are fabricated, a heat-softened sheet is vacuumed down over a model of your teeth. Due to this thermo-plastic nature, if your aligners are placed in a high-heat environment, their original shape, and consequently their fit on your teeth, may become distorted.
B) Dark beverages may discolor your invisible braces.
Colored beverages can cause Invisalign® aligners, or the debris that has accumulated on their surface (such as tartar), to stain. This includes colas, tea, coffee, wine and any other type of tinted beverage.
Of course, the experience of individual patients will vary. For some, it may be that the amount to which their aligners stain is so minimal (over the short two-week time span that they are worn) that it is not readily apparent and therefore not a significant problem.
(For a remedy, check out our pages about cleaning Invisalign® clear braces.)
2) Effects beverages may have on your teeth if they're consumed while you wear removable braces.
When invisible braces are worn, they create a barrier between your teeth and the rest of your mouth. And because of this isolation, the consumption of some types of beverages may result in a situation where the harmful effects of the drink are amplified.
A) Problems with beverages that can promote tooth decay formation.
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 cavity formation or gum inflammation. When clear braces are worn they create a barrier that inhibits the contact of saliva with wearer's teeth, and therefore tend to diminish some of saliva's beneficial actions.
For example, take the case where a sugary beverage (such as soda, juice or sweetened coffee) is consumed while a person is wearing their clear braces.
At least some of the beverage will seep into the interior of the aligners. Once it has, it will become a food source for the cavity-creating bacteria living in the dental plaque on the person's teeth.
Since Invisalign® tends to inhibit the flow of saliva, the tooth-damaging acids created by the bacteria won't be diluted and neutralized quite as effectively. The net effect can be one where the environment within the aligners is tipped towards active tooth decay formation.
You need to take this risk of tooth decay formation very seriously.
Although the primary focus of this page is the consumption of beverages, you need to understand that allowing the accumulation of bacteria (dental plaque) and any type of food source for them (solid or liquid) will result in an environment within your aligners that will place your teeth at greater risk for tooth decay.
As described above, the aligners can act as a container within which the conditions for decay formation can become quite favorable. They also act as a barrier to beneficial effects, such as the dilution of bacterial acids by saliva.
B) Potential problems with acidic beverages.
Acid beverages, like soda, can leach some of the 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 how long it is in contact with their teeth.
In those cases where an acidic drink is allowed to pool inside a person's clear braces, its concentration will not be as effectively diluted by saliva. Additionally, it may be held in close contact with the teeth for a comparatively prolonged period of time. Both of these acts, at least in theory, could be considered to be factors that could amplify the tooth-eroding potential of the beverage.
Drinking cool water when wearing your Invisalign® aligners is a great idea.
Drinking cool water while wearing your Invisalign® braces is OK and, in fact, a great idea. There is no potential for this drink to stain or warp your aligners. And any water that does seep inside them will only help to dilute and flush away bacteria and bacterial byproducts that might cause damage your teeth.
You don't have to avoid consuming your favorite beverages, just remove your aligners first.
Of course you can still drink whatever beverages you want during your Invisalign® treatment. It's just that if there is any question that doing so might cause harm to either your aligners or your teeth, just take your braces out. Then, once you are finished consuming the beverage, clean your teeth as is appropriate (brush, floss and rinse) and then reinsert your invisible braces.