Clear dental aligners are quickly becoming a popular alternative to traditional braces. The number one advantage of custom-fitted clear dental aligners is that they’re removable. Unlike metal braces, you can take your clear aligners out during meals and not have to suffer brushing the individual brackets.
But just like in conventional braces, there are dietary restrictions when wearing clear dental aligners. These food products and beverages may impede your treatment or damage your aligners, so be sure to avoid them.
Coffee, Tea, and Other Hot Drinks
This restriction may be a turn-off for hardcore coffee drinkers, but it’s necessary because caffeine can discolor the attachments quickly. Although loved by many, coffee and tea are known for causing a yellowish stain on the teeth, and they have the same effect on your dental aligners.
Coffee contains a chemical compound called tannin, which is the main culprit behind the discoloration. This compound is also present in tea, berries and other fruits, and legumes.
Apart from causing discoloration, coffee, tea, and other hot beverages can also cause deformations on your dental attachments. Clear dental aligners are typically made from plastic, either acrylic or polycarbonate. The temperature of hot drinks may cause deformations in the plastic material.
Water is your best friend, in the meantime, because most drinks aren’t good for dental aligners. But if you’re desperate for your daily caffeine fix, you can have a cup of joe in the morning before you put on your aligners.
Beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages are also a big no when you’re wearing clear aligners. The sugar in the alcohol combines with the bacteria in your teeth, which can lead to plaque buildup. If you don’t properly brush your teeth after a drink and immediately put on your aligners, the plaque can develop into a cavity.
Red wine, beer, and other colored alcoholic drinks can also cause discoloration on the teeth and your dental aligners. Chromogens give these beverages their color. Director of oral biology at Columbia’s College of Dental Medicine Dr. John Grbic explains that the chromogens cling to the enamel on the teeth, which can eventually cause stains.
Dr. Grbic suggests consuming alcoholic drinks with a straw to prevent discoloration. But even then, rinse your mouth with water after drinking to make sure that there is no alcohol residue before you wear your aligners.
Gum, Candies, and Sticky Food
This food group is a common restriction for people who have metal braces. But even for clear teeth aligners, these can be damaging. Sticky food, such as caramel and chocolate, can easily sink into the tight spaces between teeth and can be difficult to remove. If you fail to remove the food remnants, the sugar from the candy can cause tooth decay.
Avoid food that can easily get stuck in teeth, such as popcorn, nuts, and chips, for the same reason.
Proper oral habits during your orthodontic treatment go beyond food restrictions. Clean your teeth and your aligners thoroughly to prevent bad breath and plaque buildup. Time your meals, so you can follow the prescribed wear time of at least 20 hours, allowing your dental aligners to create their intended effect.