Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to adopt stellar hygiene practices across all facets of life, including oral hygiene.
Good hygiene practices are essential to helping stop the spread of any virus, including the novel Coronavirus. It is one of your best defenses in staying safe.
The route of infection (hand-to-mouth) makes oral hygiene and proper care of clear aligners and other devices (retainers, mouth guards, night guards, etc), critical. Therefore, we have created a safety tip sheet for stellar care of your clear aligners.
Tips to Care for Your Aligners During the Pandemic
Tip 1: Routine Hand Washing
Washing your hands properly remains your first line of defense in combating virus transmission. According to the CDC, hand washing should take place after contact with anything, place, or person that has potentially been contaminated. Today, that basically translates to any public space, as well as your home.
The CDC guidelines recommend to carefully wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. Do not forget to thoroughly dry your hands.
If soap and water are not available, then you can use hand sanitizer to disinfect your hands. Do ensure that your hand sanitizer is at least 60% alcohol. When using hand sanitizer often, it is also prudent to moisturize your hands regularly to prevent drying, which can lead to skin cracks and chafing that further allows germs a stronghold on your skin.
Of course, with any type of oral device, you will want to pay careful attention to washing your hands prior to inserting, removing, or adjusting your device. Otherwise, touching your mouth/device with dirty hands could lead to contamination.
Tip 2: Routinely Clean Your Aligners
Keeping your aligners clean is also important. Aside from plaque buildup, your aligners act as a magnet for bacteria and germs.
At a minimum, aligners should be brushed in the morning and before bed, but it is even better if you can brush after meals and snacks, too. Once removed, your aligners should be rinsed to further remove any stray residue buildup.
Tip 3: Soak Your Aligners
Take your aligner hygiene one step further by soaking them when not in use. Soaking solutions, such as cleaning crystals, denture cleaner, .5% to 3% hydrogen peroxide, or a homemade solution of 50/50 distilled vinegar to water, just helps to complete the removal process of bacteria and residue buildup. Your aligner will be left sparkling clean and ready for its next use.
One note here is that you have a lot of soaking solutions available, but you will want to avoid any colored mouth rinses, such as Listerine. These can easily stain your aligners.
Tip 4: Do not Forget to Clean Your Aligner’s Case
From bacteria to odors, your case can quickly become a port for germs and bacteria to get introduced into your mouth if you do not care for it properly.
Prevent this grimy scenario by simply washing your case every one to two days with warm soapy water. Make sure to rinse and dry the case immediately.
Stay Informed to Stay Safe
We understand the anxiety COVID has created amongst various segments of the population, including those undergoing orthodontic treatment. Establishing an open line of communication with your Orthodontist and keeping scheduled appointments can help ease this anxiety and keep you as informed as possible.
Ensure that you are following the CDC guidelines on masks, hand washing, social distancing, and other protocols in place to stop the spread of COVID, and always follow the recommendations your provider offers on caring for your aligners.