Stained aligners with Invisalign’s new SmartTrack material (UPDATED)

**UPDATE! January 27, 2014**

So I ran out of Efferdent, and since I no longer care about the state or color of my aligners, I decided to completely forgo any cleansing tabs. And guess what?  My aligners are pretty clear!  I’ve even been guilty of having red wine while wearing them with no permanent discoloration.  Guess I should’ve taken Invisalign’s advice not to use denture cleaner!  Not to worry though if you’re still using the old EX30 material because Polident was awesome for that.  For now, I just use water.

I’ve also gone from wearing my aligners for a full two weeks down to one week.  That also may play a small part as well.

My official solution for clear aligners is to always keep them soaking in water if they’re not in your mouth, and brush them when you’re ready to put them back in.  I’ve been too cheap to order Retainer Brite so I can’t confirm whether that works well or not, so I’ll leave that for you to decide.

And onto my original post:

After a ridiculous three-month wait for my second refinement, I can finally post a quick review of Invisalign’s new SmartTrack material!  First, if you’re not familiar with it, here are a few of the FAQs  from Aligntech.com’s website:

Question:  What’s the difference between the old material and the new material?

Answer:  The new SmartTrack material delivers a more constant force over the two week aligner wear than the original EX30 material for improved tracking.

Question:  Does the new material have the same resistance to staining?

Answer:  Some doctors have noted a slight increase in staining with the new SmartTrack material, but still within an acceptable level.

So far I like everything about it except for one thing… and that’s the staining!!  This new material stains waaaaay easier.  For the longest time, I’ve had the same cleaning routine which included letting my aligners sit in 3-minute Polident… and I’ll admit, they usually soaked for way longer than three minutes.  Five days into my first set of this series of aligners, my trays began to turn a disgusting, dingy yellow hue that no amount of scrubbing or soaking could remove.  I was confused as I hadn’t eaten or had anything to drink while wearing them with the exception of water and a sugar free Red Bull.  It had crossed my mind that perhaps the stain had come from the time I had strong coffee and put my aligners back in before brushing my teeth.  That theory was a little ridiculous, but I was still determined to find the source of the problem… so I began with the Polident.

For my second set of aligners, I went over one week without soaking my trays in the denture cleaner… only water, and only most of the time.  It amazed me how clean my aligners remained simply from my Polident usage (I was dying for this experiment to be over with)!  So, after just over a week, here are my results.

(click to blow it up)

StainComp

My habits didn’t change throughout this time…  And now I’m currently half way through set 3 using a different denture cleaner (generic 15 minute Efferdent) twice a day, and my aligners are crystal clear.  If I find the time, I’ll do another comparison photo.  Anyway people, don’t use 3-minute Polident to clean your SmartTrack aligners!  Well, unless your teeth are already yellow and in that case, who cares.  Keep being awesome.

Moving on… I love how soft the new material is.  It’s almost as if I have to peel them off my teeth.  While I’ve never experienced a torn or cracked aligner, my guess is that it happens less often for other Invisalign users now than it used to with the old stuff.

Apparently peeling has also been an issue for some people.  My aligners don’t peel, (Yes they do! Read my update below) however they do get little rough spots on some of the back teeth.  I read that here is a soft layer that coats the aligner and depending on where your teeth make contact, it can peel.  I believe they’re working on improving this in a future material.  For now though, it’s not a big deal… for me at least.

Another thing that may bother people is the material’s ability to soak in the mint flavor of toothpaste.  I switched toothpaste brands one time to see if that would change anything but it didn’t.  If at any time during the day I want to be reminded of what my fricken toothpaste tastes like, all I need to do is suck really hard on my aligners and BAM, toothpaste.  Again, it’s not annoying enough for it to be an issue.

So there’s my quick review.  More pictures to come at a later date!

Update: January 7, 2014-   (See second update further below)

I posted this almost four months ago and in that time, my love-hate relationship with Invisalign’s SmartTrack material has flourished.  It’s mostly the hate part but let’s start with the good stuff first.  I still like how flexible the aligners are compared to the original plastic.  For those of you who have had both, you’re probably in agreement with me that they’re much easier to remove even with attachments.

The only other thing I like about it is that my problem teeth are now moving, however I’m pretty sure it has more to do with my second refinement plan and less to do with the resilience of the SmartTrack material.  In fact, I have a feeling that after wearing the same SmartTrack aligner for a couple months, it’s not holding up to what it once was… in more ways than one.

Back in May when I was going back and forth with my provider about what we should do in my final refinement, I asked her if I could have “passive aligners” for my lower teeth to carry me to the finish of my upper teeth since I knew that the bottom would be finished long before the top.  Her response led me to believe that she didn’t know what passive aligners were even after I had explained what I’d read about them (I typically like to avoid offering treatment suggestions to doctors because what if I’m wrong?).  She told me that when the time came, she could make me a “temporary” retainer which is silly because she was essentially volunteering to spend time and resources on something that was completely unnecessary.

A screenshot from AlignTech (click for the actual source)

Well, the time came and my daily routine quickly turned into maintaining a furry, yellow aligner for 22 hours every day.  I’m quite certain these weren’t made to have more than a two or three-week lifespan.  Though the staining is bad and inevitable, it’s the PEELING that is beyond annoying.  The best part though, is that the last time I saw my orthodontist, she insisted that I just finish treatment and she’d make me a retainer afterward.  In other words… she skipped out on making me that “passive retainer” she promised a while back!  She’s made me one before and not only was it not scalloped around the gum line, it was also thick and very obtrusive.  Otherwise, I’d have reminded her of that promise.  So yeah, my “cons” are the peeling and staining regardless of how well you take care of them.  Get your crap together, Invisalign.  It’s time you figure out this peeling and staining issue.  I know you read my blog.  Thanks, Google Analytics.

Here is my current lower aligner… I’ll be wearing it for a few more months.  Oh joy.

Peeling SmartTrack Aligner Processed with VSCOcam