10 Weird Clear Aligner FAQs

Written by Chris Pearson GDP Registered Dentist

When you start using clear aligners, you’ll probably have a few questions. Some of those questions are practical and sensible, like ‘How long should I wear my aligners for?’. Occasionally, we hear a question that we’re not expecting.

Of course, there’s never a stupid question. Every question is valid and deserves a great answer. Here are 10 of the weirdest questions that people have asked about aligners, because we know that others will have the same questions even if they’ve not been brave enough to ask them!

Can you kiss while wearing aligners?

Your aligners fit securely into your mouth, so they’re not going anywhere when you’re locking lips with someone else. You can kiss when you’re wearing aligners, and they won’t cause any problems. In fact, kissing whilst wearing clear aligners will be so much better than kissing with traditional braces. Can you imagine getting two sets of wire braces locked together when you’re smooching? At least with clear aligners, there are no bits of metal to get caught and keep you kissing forever!

Do aligners make your face smaller?

Aligners don’t change the shape or size of your face. These clear plastic trays simply fit on your teeth and move them gently over time. Your teeth will be straighter, but the rest of your face will stay the size it’s always been.

If you had considerable dental malocclusion and needed a lot of realignment, then you might notice after you’ve had braces that your face does look a bit different. If your overbite or underbite has been fixed, your smile might not look the same as it did before your treatment. You might also notice that your jaw and chin look different when your mouth is closed. You’re unlikely to notice any difference to your face shape after using clear aligners, as these kinds of significant changes can only be achieved with other treatments like traditional braces with dental extractions. If your teeth need that much adjustment, you’re likely to be told that you’re not a suitable candidate for clear aligners.

Do you lose weight while wearing aligners?

Sadly, clear aligners don’t have magical weight-draining powers. They can’t be sold as a quick fix diet plan alternative. That said, some people do lose weight when they’re wearing clear aligners.

Clear aligners must be removed every time you want to eat or drink. Leaving the aligners in your mouth can damage the aligners and your teeth. After your snack, you must clean your teeth before you reinsert your aligners. Frankly, it’s more effort than most people are used to when they reach for the popcorn!

You need to wear your clear aligners for around 22 hours a day. If you wear them less, you risk your treatment taking longer or not being successful. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for extra snacks outside your usual mealtimes, which is why clear aligners can put a stop to any mindless snacking between meals. You might lose weight whilst wearing clear aligners, simply because snacking is no longer as easy as it’s always been.

Can you drink vodka/wine/beer while wearing aligners?

You can’t drink anything, except water, when you’re wearing clear aligners. In order to keep your aligners and teeth in the best possible condition, you need to take your aligners out whenever you’re eating or drinking.

If you drink with your aligners in, the liquid can get through gaps in your aligners and be held in the trays against your teeth. It’s a fast-track route to tooth decay and other damage like staining. Whenever you drink, unless you’re drinking water, remove your aligner trays completely. Before you put your aligner trays back, rinse them and brush your teeth. Where possible, to save yourself the effort, stick to plain water.

Of course, wearing aligners doesn’t mean that alcohol’s completely forbidden. As long as you take your aligners out, and remember to rinse them and brush your teeth, you can still enjoy your favourite beer, vodka or glass(es) of wine. Just remember that you should be wearing your aligners for 20-22 hours every day. After mealtimes, there’s not that much time to keep your aligners out for drinking. One night off shouldn’t cause too many problems, but try not to do it too often if you want to stay on track with your treatment plan.

How can I naturally straighten my teeth?

Unless you have superhuman strength or some qualifications from Hogwarts (and is that really natural at all?), you don’t have the power to straighten your teeth without some kind of tool or intervention. There are no natural ways to make your teeth shift to new positions.

If you want the easiest route to straighter teeth, clear aligners can help. They’re as close as you’ll get to a ‘quick fix’, with average treatment times of six months. You can go through your whole treatment plan at home, without the need to visit a clinic. You also won’t need to have anything permanently fixed to your pearly whites.

Clear aligners are as close to natural teeth straightening as you can get. You can’t wave a magic wand or push your smile into place, but it couldn’t be easier than slotting a discreet plastic tray over your teeth.

Who has the best teeth in the world?

It’s impossible to say who has the best teeth, since that question’s surprisingly subjective, but did you know that Swedish people are said to have the whitest in the world? In Denmark, most people have very healthy teeth and have needed very little intervention.

There’s a bit of a stereotype surrounding British people, suggesting that they have less impressive teeth than their American counterparts. In fact, this is likely to be nothing more than a cosmetic difference on the surface. It’s true that American smiles often look straighter and whiter, but behind the scenes it’s actually the case that Brits suffer less with tooth decay.

In Japan, dental hygiene is incredibly important. The Japanese have turned teeth brushing into an art and called it hamigaki. Look out for thousands of Japanese YouTube videos teaching young children how to brush, with all sorts of catchy songs and animations. Japanese children brush after every meal, including after lunch at school. Japanese people are very comfortable brushing their teeth in public.

The condition of your teeth will depend on your brushing habits and your diet. To some extent, your genetics also play a part. Some countries have better dental hygiene overall because processed sugars aren’t consumed, whilst others pay a lot of attention to brushing and visits to the dentist.

Here’s another fun fact:

Vijay Kumar, from India, holds the World Record for having the most teeth in his mouth. He has 37 natural adult teeth, where usually people have 32 (or fewer, if they’ve had some extracted).

Are yellow, crooked teeth unattractive?

Crooked and yellow teeth might not be everyone’s favourite look, but they certainly don’t make you unattractive.

Teeth that are very yellow might be a sign of poor dental hygiene, but staining can also be caused by other habits like drinking coffee, juice or fizzy soda. Lots of drinks and foods can cause teeth to be yellow, so it’s actually a common, natural look. Over time, most people’s teeth will stain unless they only eat rabbit food!

Some people choose to pay for teeth whitening treatments, but there’s nothing unattractive about being comfortable with the way you look. If you don’t want to invest in teeth whitening treatments, you’ll have more cash to spend on other things.

Crooked teeth, again, are a very natural occurrence. Some people are blessed with naturally straight teeth, but most people have teeth that overlap or have some noticeable gaps. Many people have overbites or underbites, meaning that their teeth don’t line up when they close their mouth.

If you’re comfortable and happy, that’s no problem. If you’re not happy, there are treatments available to get the straighter smile that you’re dreaming of. Clear aligners can straighten your teeth, so you can feel even more confident.

We all have different teeth. It’s understandable that yellow and crooked teeth might make you feel less attractive, but they’re not actually a problem unless they’re having a negative impact on your health and wellbeing. Crooked teeth can lead to problems eating, speech problems and pain, so if that’s the case then it’s time to take action and fix things. Otherwise, treatment is simply cosmetic.

Can I soak my aligners in vinegar?

You can use vinegar to clean your aligners, but be careful which vinegar you choose!

To clean your aligners, mix one part vinegar with three parts warm water. Use white vinegar, as other types can stain your aligners and cause yellowing. Leave your aligners to soak for 20 minutes, but remember to rinse them under cold water before you put them back into your mouth!

Why do my retainers stink?

Over time, aligners and retainers will collect a build-up of bacteria. This thin, invisible layer of bacteria can make your aligners smell unpleasant. It can also stain the plastic and might make it feel slimy or grimy, though often there are no signs apart from a bad smell.

It’s incredibly important to properly care for your clear aligners and retainers. Proper cleaning won’t just keep them in great condition, but also helps to keep your teeth healthy. A bacteria build-up on retainers or aligners could damage your teeth or make you ill. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, as each provider suggests a different method, or use one of the tried-and-tested methods that you’ll find online if you search.

If you’re slightly too relaxed about cleaning your aligners, this won’t be too much of a problem. Most people only wear their clear aligners for about two weeks before they switch to a new set. Two weeks isn’t long enough for any significant build-up of unpleasant bacteria. Retainers are different, with each set being worn for about six months in total. If you don’t stick to a good cleaning routine, your retainers are going to get grubby. You can’t see the bacteria, but it’s there on your retainers and it’s in your mouth night after night.

If your retainers smell, it’s time to make sure you been cleaning them properly. Look for aligner, denture or retainer cleaning tablets. You may also want to use a UV retainer cleaner, and other methods like vinegar soaks. There are lots of options available. You might want to try more than one, to make sure you’ve cleaned them thoroughly.

If no amount of cleaning is helping your retainers, you might need to buy a new set.

Can I wear braces at 30?

You might feel old when you find out your colleague was born in the 2000s, or when you’re nagging your children to find their shoes before the school run, but don’t feel that you’re too old for braces just because you’ve lived through three full decades!

Anyone can wear braces, and 30 really isn’t that old. You’ll still have plenty of time to enjoy straighter teeth once you reach the end of your treatment. If you didn’t start now, how many years would you regret it for?

When you were a teen and most people wore braces, they probably wore traditional braces with wires and colourful brackets. You might even have used these braces yourself, only to find that your teeth have moved back over the years. At 30, you might not want a metal smile. That’s where clear aligners can help.

Clear aligners are plastic trays that you slot onto your teeth. They’re almost invisible, very discreet and can straighten your teeth in an average of just six months. People won’t know that you’re wearing aligners, unless you decide you want to tell them.

You’re still a spring chicken! You have so many years to enjoy straighter teeth, so why not get started today?

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