Clear Aligner Treatment From a Hygienist’s Perspective

A straighter smile is a more confident smile. And a clean, straight smile is even better. That’s where Dental Hygienists, like Sarah Mueller RDH, shine. Let her tell you about how a Hygienist can make positive difference in your clear aligner therapy.

Motto: Hi, Sarah. Tell us a little about what Aspen Dental Hygienists do and why that matters in clear aligner treatment.

Sarah: Whether you have clear aligners or not, I think of Dental Hygienists as “Preventive Specialists”. Ultimately, our job is to try to prevent patients from needing to see the Dentist! (laugh) But seriously, Dental Hygienists are all about preventive care. From routine cleanings to homecare products to oral cancer screenings, Hygienists play a crucial role in helping patients get and stay healthy. Homecare of your aligners and mouth is really important while in clear aligner therapy. Your aligners themselves will not cause cavities. But proper oral care is critical to ensuring your success.

Motto: So, clear aligners don’t cause cavities, but oral care while wearing aligners is critical to preventing them. Why is that?

Sarah: Think of it this way, your clear aligners are on your teeth for at least 22 hours each day. So, any food, sugar or acid that’s on the inside of your aligner, is going to sit on your teeth for a long time.  Similar to how food breaks down, or goes bad, in the fridge, any type of food or sugar will begin to break down under your aligner.  This process produces bacteria that weaken the tooth. That’s why oral hygiene is SO important, especially while wearing aligners. I stress brushing your teeth and trays after EVERY meal, EVERY snack and EVERY beverage, before putting your aligners back in. If you don’t have time (or a toothbrush) to brush your trays, at least give them a good rinse with water.  I also recommend rinsing your mouth with water to keep the pH of your mouth neutral. And, always use your Motto™ Cleaning Tablets at the end of the day.

Also, drinking lots of water also helps to keep your teeth and aligners clean all day long . You don’t have to remove your aligners to drink water, and it will help make up for the lack of healthy saliva flow that helps keep your teeth clean.

Motto: What is the importance of dental cleanings during the clear aligner process?

Sarah: I’m so glad you asked. Patients need to understand that clear aligners are going to move their teeth to a healthy position but routine hygiene visits and great homecare are very important parts of making sure the clear aligner treatment is successful. That includes coming into an office for routine maintenance visits (cleanings) and talking with your Hygienist about areas of concern. For instance, there might be an area where we are creating more space between the teeth so that they can move into the right spot. These areas tend to collect food debris. We have great homecare products and tips and tricks to help you keep your teeth, gums and aligners clean at home. As an added bonus, routine cleanings help to remove surface stains and make your teeth look whiter. Ultimately, we want patients to LOVE their smile. Your Hygienist, routine maintenance, and great homecare are key players in getting patients to their end goal- Having a beautiful, healthy smile. Fortunately, Motto is offered at Aspen Dental, where we have AMAZING Dental Hygienists on staff. So, you can get your cleaning done at the same place you do your clear aligner therapy. We do it all!

Motto: How often should a patient schedule a checkup during Motto clear aligner therapy?

Sarah: Many patients don’t realize this but your Hygienist can make recommendations, based on YOUR specific oral needs. Sometimes we are able to work with insurance companies to get them to cover, or discount, additional maintenance visits. If you are a patient that builds up bacteria more than others, or has a health condition that warrants more cleanings, some insurance companies will work with you to cover those cleanings more often. Regardless of insurance coverage, you may be a patient that could benefit from additional or more frequent cleanings. Your Hygienist would be the person to talk with to see if that would benefit you and your oral health. So, continue coming in for routine checkups and maintenance while you’re in Motto clear aligners.

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