If you're about to begin Invisalign treatment to correct your orthodontic treatment, you're probably already aware that it's unwise to eat while wearing your aligner trays. Although the thermoplastic is extremely durable, eating with the Invisalign aligners still in your mouth can warp the trays, in addition to discoloring them. So why might you be advised to chew on something after putting the trays in your mouth? Read on to learn more.
A Snug Fit
The aligner trays should be worn snugly over your teeth for the vast majority of the day, and you will generally only remove them for a few non-consecutive hours each day in order to eat and brush your teeth. However, when putting the aligner trays back into your mouth, you might need some help to ensure that they fit as snugly as they need to in order to do their job.
Something to Chew On
Invisalign chewies are small, lozenge-shaped pieces of copolymer, which is a soft, spongy type of polymer. They can be flavorless, but are also available in a number of (sugar-free) fruit flavors, so it's a matter of personal preference. Treat them like chewing gum, which means they're not to be swallowed. But what's the purpose of these chewables?
Pressure for a Better Fit
These chewies are intended to apply pressure across the outer surface of the thermoplastic aligner, forcing the underlying surface of the aligner into tight contact with your teeth. The chewies allow you to comfortably apply pressure to the aligner tray, using the opposing force generated by your corresponding teeth without causing discomfort to these teeth, or without damaging the aligner tray themselves. They essentially squeeze out any excess air trapped beneath the aligner tray.
When to Use Chewies
You will be given specific instructions as to when to use chewies, and it might be that you will be instructed to use one each time you put your aligner trays in your mouth, or only as needed — such as if a particular section of the aligner tray won't properly flatten against the peaks of your teeth.
Chewies won't hurt your teeth (or damage your aligner trays); however, chewing on one will result in some resistance as the top of the tray compresses the copolymer lozenge. This won't cause any discomfort, however, since your jaw will be exerting a certain amount of pressure to compress the chewie, your jaw muscles can feel slightly strained. Don't be concerned if you should experience any localized muscle strain, since it will only be minor and will fade away very quickly.
Eating while wearing your aligner trays is extremely unwise; however, a chewie might be necessary to help your Invisalign work to the very best of its abilities. Talk to your orthodontist to learn more.