One of the first things people notice when meeting someone is their teeth. Having healthy teeth is a sign of good overall self-care and hygiene. We use the appearance of somebody’s teeth as a measurement of how much they take care of themselves. It’s no wonder that millions of people have turned to clear aligners for a better smile.
Traditionally, braces alone had been the leading option to straighten teeth. But in recent years, more advanced practices and technique have become available. One popular option is the use of clear aligners.
Depending on your treatment plan and the amount of time you’re willing to dedicate to teeth whitening, it may be possible while wearing aligners. The question is, how is it done? Will it affect the clear aligners? Here we will explore, step-by-step, the best ways in which you can whiten your teeth during clear aligner treatment.
Before you start any treatments, you should consult your orthodontist for a full examination and teeth assessment. This will ensure that nothing you plan on adding to your regimen affects your teeth or clear aligners in a negative way. For example, if attachments are part of your treatment plan, teeth whitening tools such as whitening strips may make them more noticeable.
Attachments and Whitening Strips Don’t Mix
Aligners sometimes use attachments on the teeth to gently move them into the correct position. Because of this, teeth whitening solutions may be a bit more complicated with aligners if attachments are part of your treatment plan. If you buy teeth whitening strips at the store and use them as directed, you will end up whitening the areas exposed to the strip but the area behind won’t be in contact with the strip itself. This can result in uneven white patches on your teeth that become more noticeable once the attachments come off at the end of your aligner treatment.
However, depending on the placement of the attachments, not all whitening treatments will need the same amount of caution. If your aligner attachments are exclusively on your molars, you can have a bit more freedom by using teeth whitening systems only on visible teeth. There might still be discoloration, but on the back teeth, it may be less noticeable than it would be on your front teeth.
Types of Treatments
In terms of teeth whitening with aligners, there are two main options:
- At-home treatments
- In-office treatments
Depending on the extent of staining on your teeth or factors such as attachments, you’ll want to choose the option that is best for you ranging from gentle to strong.
With commercial home bleaching treatments, people can use a strip that is placed over the teeth. Other companies employ a gel that’s placed on a tray. Most of these whitening products are peroxide-based bleaching agents. They’re the most common form of home bleaching sold on the market. They’re popular due to their availability and ease of use but may not be as effective in whitening teeth with aligners.
There are a few potential downsides to these treatments including sensitivity and irritation to the gums. If you have aligners, you might not want to deal with the added discomfort that teeth whitening may cause, especially since your teeth are already going to be more sensitive as they shift to their desired positions. In addition, if you have sensitive gums or depleted enamel, strong bleaching agents may not be the best option.
Gentler options that may be good for use during aligner treatment are whitening toothpaste or mouthwash. These still give some benefits of whitening while not being as harsh as strips or gels, so you don’t have to worry as much about negative side effects or discoloration.
In-office bleaching treatments tend to be stronger than the ones you can take home. This procedure is done at the dental clinic with a higher concentration of peroxide. The reason why they can use a higher concentration is that they can isolate the treatments to target areas and avoid accidentally damaging your gums. They use a special rubber dam to create a barrier and keep the whitening where you want it, without excess irritation. In-office treatments also include laser whitening.