Can you eat while wearing Invisalign® aligners? How about chewing gum? -

Why you shouldn't eat while wearing your aligners. | Reasons why your dentist might suggest that you should. | How having Invisalign® treatment may change your eating habits. | Ways to minimize eating discomfort.

You shouldn't eat with your aligners in place, for a couple of reasons ...

What's Invisalign®'s recommendation about eating?

The official word stated on Invisalign.com (August 2018) is that your aligners should be removed "for all meals and snacks, including gum."

Why this stance?

While they don't go into detail, the underlying basis of their recommendation is related to the risks involved. As outlined on this page, some of these involve potential damage to your aligners. Others are related to possible risks to your oral health.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes, possibly. Despite Invisalign's® basic stance, some dentist feel that the risks involved with wearing your aligners while you eat are overshadowed by the benefits that doing so can provide (we explain below). So per your dentist's instructions, possibly eating while your aligners are in is OK.

Other things to know about eating and Invisalign®.

Whether or not during your treatment process you end up eating with your aligners in or out, there are some basic food related issues that will tend to affect you either way.

These include the way that you eat, when you eat, or the types of foods you'll likely want to consume. This page also gives tips about steps you can take that will help to minimize the amount of discomfort you experience during meals.


1) Reasons why you shouldn't eat with Invisalign® in place.

a) You might damage your aligners.

This is probably the reason that's most obvious to most people. While Invisalign® tooth aligners are durable and strong, they are just made out of thin plastic. And when they're exposed to chewing forces, it's possible to crack, break or distort them.

Each and every aligner is important.

Any type of damage that does occur to an aligner will likely affect its fit, or the effectiveness with which it's able to create tooth-moving forces. If so, it will be unable to accomplish the specific stage of your treatment that it was designed to make.

If that's what's happened, it will have to be replaced because no other aligner can substitute, and a patient's pre-made series of aligner sets doesn't come with spares.

Having the new one made means treatment delay and added expense. Damage an aligner often enough and the progress of your case can really start to bog down, and become just that much more expensive.

Why look for trouble, just take your aligners out when you eat.

One of the biggest advantages of the Invisalign® system is that since you can take your aligners out, maintaining your regular diet is no problem at all. You can just eat normally.

But to insure that everything goes smoothly with your treatment, you just need to take the simple step of protecting your aligners by way of taking them out before you eat.

What's wearing
Invisalign® like?

b) Eating with your aligners in place isn't that pleasant.

If you do try to eat food while wearing your aligners, it's unlikely that you'll find the experience all that easy or satisfying.

  • You'll probably find that the food wants to stick to them, or gum them up in a significant way.
  • You may find that eating at home is passable. But doing so in public tends to create a bit of a spectacle.

c) You'll still need to clean your aligners.

Even if you don't take your aligners out to eat, once you've finished you absolutely will have to remove them so they can be cleaned, along with your teeth too. If you don't ...

  • Any debris that's accumulated in and around your aligners will be unsightly and foul.
  • If your aligners and teeth are not cleansed thoroughly, the accumulated food debris and associated dental plaque that will ultimately form can place your teeth at increased risk for cavities and gum inflammation.

This latter point, especially in regard to decay, is a big issue. Being embarrassed by food trapped in your aligners is one thing. But if you allow cavities to form, doing so will have permanently affected your teeth for the remainder of your life.


Why do some dentists say it's OK to eat with your aligners in place?

Despite the concerns we've mentioned above, some dentists specifically tell their patients that it's alright for them to wear their aligners when they eat, and in fact that they should.

While this recommendation may seem curious to you (considering the risks involved), doing so can provide some benefits. They include:

  • You'll be able to wear your aligners just that much more each day. - While the amount of time you spend eating may not be a lot, anytime your aligners aren't being worn your case can't progress. So by eating with them in, you'll gain a little extra treatment time each day.
  • Chewing with your aligners in place helps them to seat better. - It's the fit of your aligners over your teeth that creates and directs tooth movements. And the pressure you place on them as you eat tends to force them down and therefore helps to insure this fit. As a result, your case will tend to progress more rapidly and predictably.
Make sure you really follow your dentist's instructions.

Some patients seem to hear their dentist say it's OK for them to eat with their aligners in but fail to hear the remainder of instructions given.

  • You'll still need to remove your aligners after you eat and clean both them and your teeth. - There is no exception to this rule. Eating foods with your aligners in place is a risky proposition in regard to maintaining your oral health.

    Cleaning up after eating with your aligners in is probably more of a task than if they had been removed. And it needs to be performed promptly (the longer you wait the longer the conditions that form cavities will persist). So if this is the approach you are using, be prepared to bring your A game.

  • Ask your dentist if there are some types of foods you should avoid. - Comparatively hard foods (raw carrots, nuts, etc...), and the forces needed to chew them, will place your aligners at comparatively more risk for damage, so your dentist may ask you to avoid them.

2) Can you chew gum while wearing Invisalign®?

You'll find that chewing gum with your aligners in place makes a poor choice.

  • The gum will tend to stick to their surface. It will be time consuming and messy to remove.
  • In no way were your aligners designed to withstand the kind of abuse that chewing gum creates. And doing so will likely end up ruining one or both of them.

    (Keep in mind, if you damage even just one aligner, replacing it is an involved and costly process.)

  • The official word on Invisalign.com is that your aligners should be removed "for all meals and snacks, including gum." (August, 2018)


3) Wearing Invisalign® will likely change the way that you eat.

One of the great conveniences of having Invisalign® treatment is that you can simply take your aligners out. So as compared to traditional braces, your eating activities may not have to change all that drastically.

However, despite this convenience most patients still find that they need to alter their standard eating habits at least a little bit.

a) You may decide to eat less frequently.

Having Invisalign® may change your mind about how often you choose to eat. That's because after every meal or snack you'll need to clean both your teeth and aligners, and that can take a bit of time and effort.

So to make your life simpler, you may decide to change your eating habits from frequent snacking to a routine of larger, less frequent, meals.

b) At times, softer foods may be needed.

During the course of your treatment, you'll probably find that there are times when your teeth are especially tender and sore. (Like during those first few days when you switch to a new set of aligners.)

During these periods, you may need to shy away from hard foods (that require relatively more biting pressure) in favor of comparatively softer foods.


4) Suggestions for minimizing eating discomfort.

Here are two ideas for Invisalign® patients who find that they experience (at least from time to time) tenderness with their teeth when trying to eat.

  • Start the use of each new set of aligners at bedtime. This way your teeth will have several hours to get used to their fit, and settle down, before your next meal.
  • Taking an anti-inflammatory analgesic (ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil) an hour before meals can help to minimize the amount of tenderness you experience while eating. (Read the label of the product you choose so to make sure it is an appropriate medication for you.)
 

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Comments

eating

my orthadontist told me to eat with them in because it cuts down treatment time by 45%

tt

We've added a section above that explains the advantages that your dentist is trying to gain by having you wear your aligners when you eat. Just remember, as discussed above, there are risks associated with doing so, so keep them in mind so you don't cause yourself some problems.


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