Questions Many People Ask About Getting Tooth Straightening Trays

Tooth straightening trays are plastic forms that are shaped for your teeth in particular and which gently nudge the teeth into place over a course of weeks and months. You have new trays fitted periodically to keep the teeth moving into place. Trays can be a good alternative to braces, either for yourself or for your teenager, so note a few questions you might discuss with your dentist when you're ready to consider this option.

1. Ask how they're cleaned and maintained

Because trays slide out of the mouth when you're ready to brush your teeth, they will need separate cleaning. Remember that the trays will hold germs and bacteria from your mouth, so you cannot simply wear them constantly without proper cleaning. Typically you can clean trays with warm water and a toothbrush, but you might also need to sanitize them to rid them of all surface bacteria and germs. Ask your dentist about sanitizing, as he or she may recommend denture tablets or certain brand name products that are meant for your type of trays in particular; your dentist may even supply these products to you with each checkup and refitting. If you're considering trays for your teenager, be sure they know what's involved in cleaning them and that your child will be able to manage this even when at school or away.

2. Ask about eating and drinking, even alcohol

Typically, you should remove your trays when you eat so that you don't damage the plastic, and so that food won't get caught between the trays and your teeth. When it comes to drinking, you might be able to leave the trays in, but consider that sugary drinks may cause sugar to get caught between the trays and your teeth, causing tooth decay. This is true for alcohol, as there is usually a high sugar content in most alcoholic beverages. Be sure you discuss these restrictions with your dentist and note how to best care for your trays and your teeth when it comes to eating and drinking, and especially if the trays are for a teenager who may tend to enjoy sugary sodas throughout the day.

3. Ask when you should visit your dentist between normal appointments

Your dentist will tell you how often you need to come back in order to have your trays refitted, but you may need to make an appointment if the tray becomes cracked or even slightly damaged, as this can make them less effective in moving your teeth. You also want to ask about how much discomfort you or your teen might feel with the trays so you know if there is a problem that needs addressing, such as a poor fitting.