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Your Aligners and Microorganisms: What You Need to Know

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

Clear aligners have revolutionized dental treatments, making teeth straightening more discreet than traditional braces. But, like any dental appliance, they can trap bacteria if not cleaned properly.


This isn't just about bad breath; certain bacteria can jeopardize your oral health. Let's explore nine such bacteria that could thrive on unclean aligners and their potential effects.



Table Of Contents




Your Aligners and Microorganisms: What You Need to Know

S. Mutans


Streptococcus mutans is a bacteria commonly found in the oral cavity and plays a significant role in the development of dental caries, or cavities. It thrives on sugars, converting them into acids that erode tooth enamel. This bacterial species is particularly adept at adhering to teeth and forming biofilms, commonly known as dental plaque.


These plaques serve as reservoirs for acid production, intensifying enamel decay. If you're wearing dental aligners, the risk can escalate as the aligners may trap S. mutans and its acids close to the tooth surface, amplifying the potential for tooth decay. Therefore, maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial, especially when using aligners, to mitigate the harmful effects of S. mutans.



P. Gingivalis


Porphyromonas gingivalis is another key bacterial species in oral health, mainly implicated in periodontal diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis. Unlike S. mutans, which targets tooth enamel, P. gingivalis primarily affects the gums and supporting structures of the teeth.


It secretes enzymes and toxins that can degrade gum tissue and induce inflammation, leading to redness, swelling, and bleeding gums. Over time, this can result in the loss of tooth-supporting structures, leading to tooth mobility or even loss.


If you're wearing dental aligners, there's a potential for increased risk. The aligners can create a more sealed environment, limiting saliva's natural cleansing effect and potentially fostering a favorable environment for the growth of P. gingivalis. This makes good oral hygiene even more crucial for those wearing aligners to mitigate the risks of both tooth decay and gum disease.



S. Aureus


Staphylococcus aureus is another bacterial species that can be present in the oral cavity, although it is more commonly associated with skin and respiratory infections. In the context of oral health, S. aureus has been found in a percentage of dental abscesses, pockets of pus that form due to bacterial infection around a tooth.


Its presence suggests a role in oral infections and complications. For individuals wearing dental aligners, the risk may be elevated. Aligners can create a more sealed environment, potentially encouraging bacterial growth including that of S. aureus. Increased concentration of this bacteria could contribute to oral health issues such as abscess formation.



C. Albicans


Candida albicans is a fungus commonly present in the oral cavity, usually existing in a commensal relationship with the host. However, an imbalance in the oral environment can lead to its overgrowth, resulting in oral thrush, a type of yeast infection.


Factors like reduced salivary flow, compromised immune function, or the use of certain medications can trigger this imbalance. Dental aligners can exacerbate the situation by creating microenvironments where C. albicans can proliferate, trapped close to the tooth and gum surfaces.


This increases the risk of fungal overgrowth and potentially complicates oral health. Therefore, if you're wearing dental aligners, it's crucial to maintain excellent oral hygiene to keep the levels of C. albicans in check and prevent oral complications.


P. Aeruginosa


Time to chat about P. Aeruginosa. While it might not be a household name, this bacterium can cause various infections, especially for folks with weaker immune systems. Here's the twist. Although it's not commonly found in our mouths, it loves moist environments.


So, if aligners are introduced to it, perhaps from unclean storage or handling, there's a chance they could hold onto these bacteria. The lesson here? Always store your aligners in clean cases and handle them with clean hands. Think of it as giving your aligners the best home possible, free from unwanted guests.



F. Nucleatum


Fusobacterium nucleatum is another bacterium commonly found in the oral cavity, playing a vital role in dental plaque formation due to its adhesive properties. It has the ability to coaggregate with various other microbial species, essentially acting as a bridge to facilitate multi-species biofilm development.

This bacterial facilitation is particularly concerning for people who wear dental aligners, as the aligners can trap F. nucleatum close to the tooth surface, increasing plaque formation and potentially promoting oral health issues.


Moreover, F. nucleatum has been implicated in more severe conditions, including cancer. It's believed to promote cancer through several mechanisms, such as stimulating cell proliferation, promoting cellular invasion, and contributing to chronic inflammation and immune evasion. Given its role in both dental health and systemic conditions, it's important to maintain excellent oral hygiene, especially for aligner wearers, to mitigate the risks associated with F. nucleatum.



A. Baumanii


Acinetobacter baumannii is not typically associated with the oral cavity but is known for causing various healthcare-associated infections. However, some studies suggest that it can colonize the oral cavity and may be implicated in conditions like refractory periodontitis. Just like Streptococcus mutans, A. baumannii also has the ability to adhere to surfaces and form biofilms.


This biofilm formation contributes to its pathogenesis, making it difficult to eradicate and allowing it to contribute to persistent infections. The aligners may trap the bacteria close to gum surfaces, thereby potentially escalating the risk of refractory periodontitis.



Smilesaver Spray, Aligners and Microorganisms


We've discussed some rather intimidating microorganisms like S. Mutans and A. Baumannii, each with their own set of scary implications for oral health, especially for those wearing aligners. The good news is that there are effective solutions to combat these bacteria and maintain oral health.


One such product is the Smilesaver Spray. This innovative spray is designed to eliminate all the microorganisms we've discussed above. The best part? It requires no rinse or soak. A simple spray is all you need to significantly lower the risk of dental caries and refractory periodontitis. This convenient option makes it easier to maintain a healthy oral environment, even with the added challenge of wearing aligners.



Conclusion


Oral health isn't just about brushing or flossing. When using aligners, we invite many bacteria into our mouths, some familiar and others not so much. It's crucial to stay informed and maintain a strict cleaning routine for both hands and aligners.


A little knowledge and care can protect your smile from unwanted complications. Let's keep our oral space clean and our dental journey smooth. After all, a healthy smile is a happy smile.



FAQ


Q: What are aligners?


A: Aligners are a type of orthodontic treatment that use clear, removable trays to gradually shift teeth into their desired position.


Q: How long do I need to wear aligners?


A: The length of treatment varies depending on the individual case, but most people wear aligners for 12 to 18 months.


Q: Can I eat and drink with aligners in?


A: It is recommended that you remove your aligners when eating or drinking anything other than water. This helps prevent staining and damage to the aligners.


Q: Do aligners affect my oral hygiene routine?


A: No, aligners do not affect your oral hygiene routine. You can brush and floss your teeth as usual, but it is important to clean your aligners regularly as well.


Q: Are there any risks of using aligners?


A: As with any orthodontic treatment, there are some risks involved with using aligners. These include tooth sensitivity, gum irritation, and the risk of the aligners breaking. However, these risks are generally minor and can be easily managed with proper care and attention.

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