Ask a Dentist: What Foods Should Invisalign Wearers Avoid?
Anyone who chooses Invisalign® treatment for teeth straightening can appreciate the convenience of removable trays that make eating more enjoyable. Still, maintaining a healthy diet is critical to treatment success, and it is advisable to avoid eating certain foods.
Eating and oral hygiene considerations
Customizable trays that are removable for eating are a significant reason for choosing Invisalign® aligners for teeth straightening. Taking out the trays at mealtime protects them from damage and makes eating more pleasurable. However, maintaining good oral hygiene is necessary to prevent food particles from clinging to aligners, and avoiding specific foods is integral to that effort.
Food types to avoid with Invisalign®
Healthy teeth and gums are a prerequisite for teeth straightening. In addition to recommending rigorous oral hygiene, dentists advise patients to avoid eating foods with the following properties that could compromise treatment results.
Sticky and chewy
Chewing sticky foods allows particles to cling to teeth surfaces and promotes plaque and tartar formation. In addition, food debris that remains on the teeth encourages and feeds bacteria that transfer to aligner trays, which can trap the germs on the enamel and at the gumline. The resulting ongoing exposure to bacteria can damage enamel and produce cavities through which an infection can progress into a tooth.
Highly acidic foods that Invisalign® wearers should consume in moderation or avoid include:
- Carbonated beverages
- Citrus fruits
Over time, these abrasive choices can erode tooth enamel and cause sensitivity. Damaged enamel is irreparable and cannot protect teeth from bacterial decay. In addition, if contaminated aligner trays carry bacteria to a tooth's unstable outer enamel layer, corrosion can progress quickly.
Sweet and processed
Although meals are more enjoyable with removable trays than traditional braces, it is advisable to avoid eating sugary, processed, and starchy foods, especially if brushing or rinsing is not feasible before replacing the trays. Such oral hygiene steps remove the decay-promoting bacteria these foods encourage and prevent them from inevitably transferring to aligner trays. As bacteria propagate beneath the trays and move past the gum line, complications that interfere with teeth straightening can occur.
Hard and dense
Foods that require excessive chewing and biting force, such as thick bread crusts, nuts, and corn on the cob, can prevent teeth shifting, thereby voiding aligner treatment benefits. Forgoing such foods can also reduce teeth chips and cracks can serve as entry points for otherwise harmless aligner bacteria that become damaging inside a tooth.
Dark and staining
Various food items can stain tooth enamel and Invisalign® trays. Common culprits include tomatoes, beets, blueberries, and vegetable juice. Placing aligner trays over teeth following a meal of stain-producing foods can permanently discolor trays, leading to an unsightly appearance. Therefore, it is beneficial to avoid eating such foods when rinsing and brushing soon after consumption is impossible.
Invisalign® teeth aligners are a convenient and effective way to straighten teeth, provided that wearers make healthy food choices and practice appropriate oral hygiene. Dentists can provide a list of foods to avoid to ensure maximum treatment benefits.
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