Your teeth will begin to realign from the moment your very first Invisalign trays are fitted over them. Although the overall process will take upwards of a year (with 13.5 months being the average treatment time), your teeth have already begun to shift position, with angled teeth straightening up, and rotated teeth beginning to de-rotate. Since the appearance of your smile will improve, you might want to do something more for the aesthetics of your teeth. You might as well whiten your teeth during your Invisalign treatment, right? You may be wondering if this is possible.
Your Invisalign Trays
First of all, it's important to avoid a mistake that many Invisalign users make. Your Invisalign trays should not be used as applicator trays for an at-home whitening kit. It might seem logical to do so since your Invisalign trays are configured to be an exact fit for your dental arch. But they're simply too tight and will cause the whitening gel to leak out from the tray's edges, all over your gums. Also, while Invisalign trays are relatively strong, they're not indestructible, and you don't want the potentially corrosive whitening gel (with its active ingredient, hydrogen peroxide) to damage your trays.
In fact, whitening your teeth during your Invisalign treatment can be both uncomfortable, and may not lead to the desired results. Your teeth are moving in response to the light pressure applied by the aligner tray. This means that the outward-facing surfaces of your teeth (which are most visible when you smile) may shift during your treatment. This is especially true when some teeth are being de-rotated. Your whitening efforts may have some results, but as the teeth continue to be realigned, non-whitened sections of the teeth may become more prominent. This can lead to uneven results.
Whitening After Invisalign
The best time to have your teeth whitened is after you have finished your Invisalign treatment, and even then, a brief delay can be helpful. Although your treatment won't hurt your teeth, their realignment can make them somewhat more sensitive, and whitening may prove to be too uncomfortable. Your dentist may wish to gauge the sensitivity of your teeth before whitening them, to ensure that the process is as comfortable as possible.
During your Invisalign treatment, it's better to rely on whitening toothpastes. These aren't as effective as an actual gel-based whitening kit or the treatment a dentist can perform, but they will help your teeth to lighten in a way that doesn't disrupt your orthodontic work. Similarly, you'll still need to attend your regular dental checkups during the course of your Invisalign, and your dentist can scale and polish your teeth to remove surface stains.
For more information about Invisalign, contact a local orthodontist or dentist.