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How to Prevent Bad Breath with Braces or Invisalign

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If you are on orthodontic treatment, you probably understand the struggles with bad breath with braces. Braces and clear aligners, like Invisalign, help reposition your teeth to the desired position.

However, when put on, there is an increased risk of plaque buildup and trapped food particles, which can lead to bad breath.

So, how can you manage this issue, keep your oral health in check, and still reap the benefits of orthodontic treatments?

This article delves further into the topic by highlighting:

  • The possible causes of bad breath with braces;
  • Effective tips and strategies to maintain fresh breath with orthodontic appliances;

What Causes Bad Breath With Braces or Invisalign?

Bad breath is generally caused by bacteria that is trapped in your mouth. In most cases, this comes from food particles stuck in your teeth or braces, creating an ideal environment for the bacteria to grow.

But do braces make your breath stink?

Here are some reasons why bad breath may occur with braces or Invisalign:

Plaque buildup

Orthodontic appliances like braces create an additional surface in your mouth where food particles can get trapped. If not removed well and on time, it creates a good breeding ground for bacteria that feed on it, producing sulfur compounds, which are responsible for unpleasant odor.

Difficulty cleaning

It is a no-brainer that oral hygiene is a little more complicated when wearing braces. For instance, the presence of wires and brackets makes brushing or flossing more intricate.

On the other hand, Invisalign should be removed and cleaned after every meal. However, if proper oral hygiene is not maintained after each meal, food particles can be trapped, leading to bad breath.

Dry mouth

Wearing braces or Invisalign can introduce numerous changes to your oral health, including forcing you to breathe with your mouth. This develops dry mouth, one of the most common side effects of mouth breathing.

Dry mouth causes your mouth to lack or have little saliva, which helps to neutralize acids and remove food particles. Ultimately, the lack of enough saliva in your mouth causes dry mouth, which enables bacteria to thrive, contributing to bad breath.

Hygiene habits

Cleaning braces or Invisalign requires extra care and diligence. Some people may not be able to effectively adapt their routines, leading to inadequate cleaning around the brackets, wires, or aligners.

When you neglect the recommended cleaning habits of these orthodontic devices, you risk contributing to bad breath.

Irregular adjustments

Although rare, you can get bad breath with braces after irregular adjustments. Braces often require adjusting after a period of time to get them to shift teeth further into a desired position.

However, when not properly cleaned before adjusting or adjusted in an irregular manner, it can create opportunities for food particles to become trapped, enabling the bacteria to proliferate, ultimately leading to bad breath.

How to Prevent Bad Breath with Braces or Invisalign

Orthodontic treatment marks the beginning of a remarkable journey towards achieving a more confident and beautiful smile.

However, regardless of the treatment route, whether wearing traditional braces or the more discreet Invisalign aligners, this transformative process requires careful attention to oral hygiene.

One common concern that often arises during orthodontic treatment is bad breath. The combination of increased nooks and crannies for food particles to hide, coupled with the challenges of cleaning around braces or aligners, can lead to bad breath.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can follow to maintain fresh breath and excellent oral hygiene when wearing braces or Invisalign. Some of these tips to follow include:

Master proper brushing techniques

One of the key methods of preventing bad breath is through diligent brushing. However, with braces or Invisalign, you may have to adapt brushing techniques that conform to your new situation.

  • Braces: If you have braces, use a soft-bristle toothbrush and angle it towards the gumline.

Clean each tooth individually, above and below the brackets, ensuring no food particles are left behind. You should also not forget to brush the brackets gently but thoroughly.

  • Invisalign: Invisalign, just like many other invisible teeth aligners, are removable. You can remove them before you clean your teeth as you would without the aligners.
A woman looking at herself in the mirror while brushing her teeth as she has bad breath with braces.

Use better flossing techniques

Flossing is a crucial part of your general hygiene regimen. However, it becomes even more important during orthodontic treatment. Traditional floss might be tricky maneuvering between wires and brackets, so you can opt for alternatives like water flossers.

  • Braces: Using flossing alternatives like water flossers makes it easier to clean even beneath the wires. Remember to floss between teeth and along the gumline, ensuring to remove trapped food particles.
  • Invisalign: You also have to remove your aligners before flossing as well. Simply slide the floss between your teeth as you would without the aligners.

Embrace mouthwash

Besides proper brushing and flossing techniques, it is also recommended that you embrace mouthwash to get rid of and prevent bad breath with Invisalign or braces.

An antimicrobial mouthwash can be a game-changer for you, as it not only removes the bacteria and food particles but also kills the bacteria that contribute to bad breath.

Besides, using the best mouthwash is pretty simple, as you just have to swish it around your mouth for the recommended period, targeting the areas around brackets, wires, and aligners.

A woman using mouthwash

Be mindful of your diet

It is a no-brainer that a bigger chunk of your lifestyle may have to change when you get braces or Invisalign.

One of these major changes surrounds what you eat. It is paramount that you avoid foods or snacks that are sticky or have strong odors. These types of foods can exacerbate bad breath.

Additionally, you should avoid garlic, onions, sugary snacks, and other culprits notorious for lingering in hard-to-reach areas of your braces or aligners.

Hydration is key

Drinking water is good for your general body health. But did you know it is also vital in keeping your mouth smelling fresh?

Water helps flush away food particles lodged within the crannies and hooks of your braces. Moreover, proper hydration encourages the production of saliva, which minimizes dry mouth — a potential trigger for bad breath.

woman staying hydrated on the beach

Regular orthodontic checkup

Frequent visits to your orthodontist for adjustments are important. These appointments ensure your treatment progresses as planned and provide an opportunity for dental cleanings, where your orthodontist can clean areas that might be challenging for you to reach.

Say no to smoking

Smoking not only stains teeth but also contributes to bad breath. If you’re considering orthodontic treatment as a fresh start, quitting smoking can be a fantastic step towards better oral health and fresher breath.

How to Prevent Bad Breath with Braces or Invisalign 1

How to Clean Your Invisalign Aligners

Maintaining a fresh breath doesn’t end with just knowing how to brush your teeth effectively when using Invisalign aligners. If your Invisalign smells bad, it is also crucial that you know how to clean them properly to prevent plaque and bacteria build-up, which can increase your risk of halitosis.

Here is a quick guide on how to clean your Invisalign clear aligners:

  1. Rinse: After removal, rinse aligners under lukewarm water to prevent plaque buildup.
  2. Brush: Brush teeth gently before reinserting aligners to prevent trapped particles.
  3. Use soap to clean: Use clear, unscented antibacterial soap on a toothbrush to clean aligners inside and out.
  4. Consider cleaning crystals: You may consider soaking your aligners in Invisalign cleaning crystals dissolved in lukewarm water to remove the stains and bacteria.
  5. Store your aligners safely: Use a travel case to protect aligners when not in use, preventing damage and contamination.
  6. Pre-Reinsertion Rinse: Rinse your mouth before wearing aligners again.
  7. Fresh Case: Regularly replace aligner cases to prevent bacteria buildup.

Additionally, you should avoid harsh solutions like denture cleaners, mouthwash, or alcohol, which could harm aligners.


Maintaining fresh breath while undergoing orthodontic treatment with braces or Invisalign is not only achievable but also essential for your overall confidence and oral health. By implementing the strategies outlined above, you can navigate your orthodontic journey with assurance and a radiant smile.


Can dry mouth be managed without causing bad breath?

Yes, dry mouth can be managed effectively, even during orthodontic treatment. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production to combat dry mouth symptoms. These strategies can help maintain saliva flow and prevent bad breath.

Can I use regular mouthwash with braces or Invisalign?

While regular mouthwash can be used, it's advisable to choose an alcohol-free, orthodontist-recommended mouthwash. Alcohol-based mouthwashes can cause dry mouth and discomfort, particularly with braces or Invisalign.

Opt for a non-alcoholic mouthwash that helps kill bacteria and freshen your breath without causing additional issues.

Is bacteria accumulation more common with braces or Invisalign?

Bacteria accumulation is a concern with both braces and Invisalign, but it may be slightly more pronounced with braces due to the presence of brackets and wires.

Are there specific foods I should avoid to prevent bad breath with braces or Invisalign?

Yes, certain foods are more likely to cause bad breath due to their ability to get stuck in braces or aligners. Sticky and sugary foods and those with strong odors like garlic and onions should be consumed in moderation.

Can mouth breathing with braces or Invisalign contribute to bad breath?

Yes, mouth breathing can lead to dry mouth, which can contribute to bad breath. Breathing through your mouth reduces saliva production, allowing bacteria to thrive and produce odor.


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