Exactly how do Clear Aligners like Invisalign work and can they work for you?
You have arrived at the right destination to see how clear aligners work and what they can do for you. Thanks to clear aligner treatment, or (nearly) invisible braces, smile correction can be done with little disruption to your life. For most patients, clear aligners have many advantages over traditional metal braces.
You can eat all the foods you enjoy, brush and floss the same way you always would, and smile just as widely as ever while your aligners get to work straightening out your pearly whites. However, having properly aligned teeth isn’t just about that dashing smile; it can also reduce your risk of excessive tooth wear over time, as well as make it easier for you to remove plaque from your teeth. Plaque accumulation can lead to gum disease and tooth decay.
To answer the question, “how do aligners like Invisalign work?” we need to first discuss the difference between these types of nearly invisible braces and their traditional metal counterparts.
How Do Clear Aligners Differ from Traditional Braces?
If you’re considering teeth straightening options, you’ve no doubt questioned which you should choose between clear aligners like Invisalign and conventional braces. In most cases clear aligner treatment is just as effective for straightening your teeth as traditional metal braces. However, the nearly invisible braces approach is ideal for social and active lifestyles, particularly among adults and self-conscious teens. People may not even notice you’re wearing the clear plastic aligners.
Unlike traditional braces, you can remove the trays to brush and floss your teeth without worrying about the issue of trapped food that sometimes occurs with metal braces.
Traditional braces use metal and wires that may irritate the inside of people’s cheeks. Clear aligners are made of a smooth plastic that is comfortable for extended wear.
So, Exactly How Do Clear Aligners Work?
The first step is to get an examination from your orthodontist. During the exam, the orthodontist will decide if you are a good candidate for treatment, based on your individual needs. There is more than one type of aligner, and if clear aligners are right for you your orthodontist can choose from an array of providers, not just Invisalign. The most important factor in determining your outcome is the skill and expertise of the provider, not the brand of clear aligner used in the process.
What Happens If You’re a Candidate? How Clear Aligners Work:
If you’re a good candidate for Invisalign or a similar type of aligner deemed best for your case, your orthodontist will take records, including photos of your face and teeth. An X-ray and scan of your mouth will also be arranged. The records are then sent out to a clear aligner lab like Invisalign where a 3D model of your teeth is created. Your orthodontist will design your personalised treatment plan and then order your series of trays.
When you receive your trays – called aligners – you will need to wear each one for a week or two at a time. Your teeth in each tray are a little straighter than your last aligner tray. On average, teeth move about 1/10mm with each tray. The difference between your current alignment and the slightly different impression of your teeth in your new aligner puts pressure on your teeth. Over the week (or two) course of wearing the tray, your teeth will begin to move to match that tray. The light pressure from the series of trays is how clear aligners like Invisalign work over time.
You May Have to Use a Few Attachments
Most people may need to use attachments on their teeth. These are small bumps of plastic material that are the same colour as your teeth. They provide a gripping point for your aligner to easily grip into place and remain there. They also help to place pressure on your teeth to help straighten them. They put pressure on certain parts of your teeth to help the aligners move the teeth up, down, side-to-side and around.
Some patients may need to wear rubber bands with their aligners, similar to the requirements of metal braces. The bands work to put extra pressure on certain teeth and/or to correct your bite. It’s all a part of how aligners such as Invisalign work as a teeth straightening solution.
How Long Do You Have to Wear the Aligners?
One of the big benefits of clear aligner systems is that you can remove the aligners to eat, drink, brush and floss. They’re easy enough to clean, too, just with your usual toothbrush. So, you should wear the aligners for approximately 22 hours a day to allow your teeth the best chance to move to their final, straighter position.
The average adult’s treatment time is as little as 6 months, up to around twelve months. But, times can vary depending on the severity of your case. Your orthodontist will work closely with you to come up with an individual treatment plan for your needs.
What Happens After the Final Trays?
When you are done wearing the final trays, you will receive retainers. Usually these plastic retainers look similar to the treatment trays. The purpose of the retainer is to help keep your newly-aligned teeth in place. You may need to wear the retainer for a period of 6 weeks on a full-time basis. You can then cut back to wearing it just while you sleep. Eventually – and only if supervised and advised by your orthodontist – you may be able to wear it only one or two nights a week.
The important thing to remember is that you need to look after your trays. An article in the Journal of Clinical Orthodontics reports that researchers discovered that some patients drink (other than water) while their aligners are still in. This traps sugars in your mouth, which in turn feed decay-causing bacteria. You need to remove the trays when eating and drinking to avoid trapping sugars and allow saliva to act as your natural tooth cleaning system in order to promote good oral health.
What Can Aligners like Invisalign Fix?
Clear aligners can correct a number of problems, like:
- Crowded teeth
- Gapped teeth
What’s One of the Biggest Benefits of Clear Aligners?
We’ve answered how clear aligners work, so let’s discuss a couple of great benefits.
Clear aligners minimise interference to your lifestyle! You can take your trays out in the morning and evening and brush them with a toothbrush. You can take the trays out when you eat, too, so there’s no need to miss out on your favourite foods.
Best of all, the trays keep your teeth cleaner than traditional braces would, as you are able to continue brushing and flossing as normal.
Are Clear Aligners like Invisalign for You?
This is a treatment that is low on maintenance, big on results, and fast on effectiveness.
To determine if you are a candidate for clear treatment and how it works in more detail, book a free Invisalign assessment* at Fine Orthodontics.
* Terms and conditions for the free assessment: The appointment is intended to provide you with general information to help decide if clear aligners may be suitable for you. Includes clinical photos but not radiographs. No further free appointments if this one is missed.
Always read the label and follow the instructions for use.