Bad Breath from Invisalign (Clear Aligners)

erica medical reviewer
Medically Reviewed
by Dr. Erica Anand
Ellie Swain
Written by
Ellie Swain
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Evidence Based
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7 sources cited
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Why Does Invisalign Cause Bad Breath?

Food and plaque can get caught in your Invisalign aligners. This can lead to bad breath. Smelly foods like onions or garlic can particularly leave a bad smell.

Dry mouth resulting from Invisalign can also contribute to bad breath.

In most cases, an unpleasant odor from Invisalign is linked to inadequate aligner care. If your aligners smell bad, you probably need to improve your oral hygiene routine. 

In extreme cases, bad breath from Invisalign treatment can result in tooth decay and gum disease. 

It is also important to know that infections in the mouth are common causes of bad breath. This is whether you wear Invisalign aligners or not.

What Causes Invisalign Dry Mouth?

Some Invisalign patients find that they have a dry mouth with Invisalign. Dry mouth with Invisalign is particularly common in patients first starting orthodontic treatment.

Initially, your mouth may treat your plastic aligners like a foreign object. This causes swelling of the gums and irritation. 

Because of this, your body produces less saliva. This causes your mouth to feel dry.

Saliva is essential for neutralizing bad breath-causing bacteria. It washes away food particles and prevents cavities and other infections, which contribute to bad breath.

7 Tips to Prevent & Eliminate Invisalign Bad Breath 

1. Improve your brushing routine

Brushing your teeth regularly during aligner treatment is essential. Teeth shift most effectively in a healthy and clean mouth. Developing cavities or gum disease can affect treatment results.

Properly brushing your teeth regularly is the easiest way to avoid bad breath with Invisalign. 

Brushing your teeth will eliminate:

  • Odor-causing bacteria
  • Plaque
  • Food debris

Whether you have traditional metal braces or clear aligners, it is essential to brush your teeth using fluoride toothpaste:

  • In the morning
  • After meals and snacks
  • Before bed

Don’t forget to brush your tongue, as many odor-causing bacteria get trapped here. This is a common cause of bad breath.

2.  Floss daily

Flossing at least once a day during orthodontic treatment is also essential to prevent odor buildup. 

Proper flossing removes plaque and food particles between your teeth. It also gets rid of plaque and food at the gum line that your toothbrush cannot reach.

Flossing is essential for preventing infections that can lead to bad breath. For example, gum disease.

During Invisalign treatment, floss as you usually would after removing the trays.

3. Use a Waterpik

A Waterpik or water flosser is excellent for:

  • Cleaning your gums
  • Removing plaque
  • Loosening stubborn pieces of food

Keep in mind that a Waterpik does not replace regular flossing. Use your Waterpik in addition to traditional floss.

4. Use mouthwash

An antibacterial or antimicrobial mouthwash with fluoride can help freshen breath. It will help eliminate odor-causing bacteria and cavities that contribute to bad breath.

Twice daily:

  1. Remove your aligners
  2. Swish the mouthwash around in your mouth for approximately 60 seconds
  3. Spit out the mouthwash

5. Remove your aligners before eating or drinking

There are no food restrictions with Invisalign treatment. However, you should not eat or drink with Invisalign aligners in your mouth.

Remove your aligners before eating or drinking anything other than water. This ensures food does not get trapped in your teeth, causing bad breath.

6. Visit your dentist regularly

You still need to visit your dentist during orthodontic treatment. It is a key way to prevent bad breath with Invisalign or traditional metal braces.

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Your dentist will check your teeth and gums are healthy. They will also ensure that your teeth are cavity-free, which helps prevent bad odors.

During professional cleanings, your dentist will remove hardened plaque or tartar. This is typically hard to eliminate on your own with a regular toothbrush.

7. Eat a healthy diet

Be sure to consume a well-rounded diet full of foods that strengthen the teeth and gums. A healthy diet helps fight Invisalign bad breath. 

Eating a nutrient-dense diet and enjoying sugary drinks and treats in moderation reduces your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

You can also avoid certain foods that cause bad breath. For example, garlic and onions.

8. Drink plenty of water

An easy way to treat Invisalign dry mouth is to drink water. 

Staying hydrated helps maintain a healthy saliva flow. Consider keeping a bottle of water at hand throughout your treatment.

Not only does drinking water help you avoid dry mouth, but it helps you stick to the recommended 8 to 15 cups a day.

How to Clean Your Invisalign

Invisalign aligners must be cleaned regularly to prevent chronic bad breath. 

The aligners must be disposed of every couple of weeks. However, they still require cleaning. Otherwise, you may have smelly or dirty aligners to use each day.1

There is a difference between cleaning and rinsing your clear aligners. 

Rinsing the aligners may make them look slightly cleaner. However, you have not done anything to clean the unseen bacteria build-up.

The following is a basic cleansing process for nightly cleaning:

  1. Rinse your clear aligners with water each night.
  2. Brush your aligners with a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle clear liquid soap. Do not use the toothbrush you use to brush your teeth daily. This removes any plaque and food particles collected during the day.
  3. Rinse your aligners and toothbrush after brushing.
  4. Store your aligners in a protective case when they are not in use.

Some cleansers are too harsh or damaging for your Invisalign aligners.

Do not use the following to wash your aligners:

  • Denture cleaners
  • Mouthwashes, especially those with alcohol 
  • Scented soaps
  • Toothpaste

Movemints: Aligner Mints for Bad Breath & Dry Mouth 

Movemints help set your clear aligners and freshen your breath. The patented grooves sit between the top and bottom teeth without leaving any sticky residue behind.

An orthodontist designed the mints for clear aligner patients and people wearing retainers.

The benefits of Movemints include:2

  • Safe for teeth and gums
  • Simple to use
  • Pleasant to taste
  • Eliminates stale breath occurring from clear aligner use
  • Confidence-boosting if bad breath makes you feel self-conscious
  • Helps you keep your aligners in place without having to chew on plastic
  • Provides a substitute for gum chewing, so it is easier for patients to wear aligners for 22 hours a day
  • Sugar-free, gluten-free, and vegan

Resources

Living with Invisalign® clear aligners, Invisalign

Frequently asked questions, Dental Move Mints

Schaefer, Isabelle, and Bert Braumann. “Halitosis, oral health and quality of life during treatment with Invisalign(®) and the effect of a low-dose chlorhexidine solution.” Journal of orofacial orthopedics = Fortschritte der Kieferorthopadie : Organ/official journal Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Kieferorthopadie vol. 71,6 (2010): 430-41

Papadimitriou, Aikaterini et al. “Clinical effectiveness of Invisalign® orthodontic treatment: a systematic review.” Progress in orthodontics vol. 19,1 37. 28 Sep. 2018

Aylıkcı, Bahadır Uğur, and Hakan Colak. “Halitosis: From diagnosis to management.” Journal of natural science, biology, and medicine vol. 4,1 (2013): 14-23

Porter, S R, and C Scully. “Oral malodour (halitosis).” BMJ (Clinical research ed.) vol. 333,7569 (2006): 632-5

Bicak, Damla Aksit. “A Current Approach to Halitosis and Oral Malodor- A Mini Review.” The open dentistry journal vol. 12 322-330. 30 Apr. 2018

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