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Multitasking For Your Teeth: Can You Whiten Your Smile During Clear Aligner Treatment?

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Anyone who is undergoing orthodontic treatment with Invisalign or another clear aligner system is probably looking forward to the day when their treatment is over. It's not like the treatment is invasive or uncomfortable, but you undoubtedly want to fast forward to when your teeth are in perfect alignment. Because you are in the process of enhancing your smile, you might want to take things further. Isn't your clear aligner treatment the perfect time to whiten your teeth? 

At The Same Time

You might want to simultaneously whiten your teeth while you straighten them, imagining that your aligners will be taken off to reveal perfectly white, straight teeth. However, teeth whitening and clear aligner treatment shouldn't really take place at the same time. Just because something is possible, it doesn't make it a good idea.

Under Pressure

Although your orthodontic treatment isn't traumatic for your teeth and gums, the sheer act of repositioning your teeth places them under pressure. Their periodontal ligaments are being manipulated into a new position, supporting your teeth as your jawbone remodels itself to support the teeth in their correct alignment. There will be brief periods of temporary sensitivity when you switch to a new aligner tray, but this isn't intensive.


Teeth whitening can also trigger some sensitivity (which can be quite aggravating in some circumstances). Whitening during your orthodontic treatment can be unwise, simply because you're sharply increasing your chances of irritating your teeth and gums on an ongoing basis. This is because you have to deal with both any sensitivity caused by your orthodontic treatment, combined with any sensitivity caused by your whitening efforts. There's also the strong possibility that you won't be so enthusiastic about the results.

Visible Surfaces

Whitening your teeth only whitens a tooth's visible surfaces. These surfaces will change during clear aligner treatment. As your teeth are gradually reconfigured, their position in your jaw will change. Previously concealed areas of a tooth will become exposed, and if these weren't exposed to a whitening agent, the colour mismatch can be obvious. 


It's best to wait until after you've finished your clear aligner treatment before you whiten your teeth. Your orthodontist and dentist might caution you about the risk of still experiencing elevated sensitivity in the months after you've completed your treatment, but if you can't wait, have your dentist perform the work. They're able to do so with greater accuracy than an at-home kit, with necessary precautions in place such as a rubber guard (dental dam) to protect the soft tissues in your mouth, along with the application of a fluoride gel after whitening to keep any sensitivity at bay. 

Sure, it makes sense to want your teeth to be both white and straight, but it's not a great idea to attempt both of these goals at the same time. For the safest and most effective whitening results, it's in your best interests to wait until after you've finished your clear aligner treatment. Teeth whitening is a great procedure, and clear aligner treatments are beneficial. Just be sure to schedule them for different times.