How do invisible braces work? And who is the good candidate for invisible aligners?

Peter March

Written by Peter March DDS, Henry Hackney DMD

Invisible braces are a removable orthodontic appliance that is clear, and therefore hard to see. Along with porcelain and lingual braces, it is a popular alternative to traditional brackets, especially for adult patients.

There are, however, more differences than just the invisibility. This includes who qualifies for treatment, the process itself, as well as the care and maintenance the patients have to remember about.

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Types of invisible braces

Invisible braces

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

In-office

Peter March

Peter March, DDS

The “button” attachments are small and made of white filling material that is removed at the end of treatment with no harm to the teeth.

Some dentists and orthodontists also offer so-called custom trays. It works basically like off-brand Invisalign. The dental professional reviews the situation in your mouth and an affiliated lab makes your aligners. You still have to come in at regular intervals, usually 1-2 months.

At-home

Invisible aligners candidate

Misaligned teeth

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

The candidate profiles are different for in-office and at-home options.

Remote kits are only suitable for patients with simple orthodontic issues such as crooked teeth, slight asymmetry, or minimal buck teeth. If you have, for example, issues with your bite, aligners are out of the question.

Henry Hackney

Henry Hackney, DMD

Remote orthodontic treatment is only recommended for patients that require minimal changes. It is also extremely dependent on patient compliance due to minimal interactions with orthodontist in person.

  • GOOD

  • Slight misalignment

  • All permanent teeth

  • General oral health

  • Consistency

  • NOT SO GOOD

  • Severe misalignment

  • Bite issues

  • Crowns, bridges, and implants

  • Gum disease

  • Active tooth decay

  • Baby teeth

Invisible braces process

Similarly to regular wire braces, clear aligners apply force to the dentition that is not placed optimally to very slowly move it. Each tray is slightly more symmetrical and therefore arches steadily become even with time. The whole treatment can last anywhere from about 3 months up to 2 years.

Some invisible braces are designed in a way that allows for eating with them in. Nonetheless, many reviews show that this is uncomfortable and that the taste sensation is minimal. It’s best to carry around a case that you can store trays in during mealtimes.

Ideally, stick to drinking water only when your aligners are in. If you experience gum irritation, use a nail file to smoothen the edges. A little discomfort is normal, especially with each new set.

When the last set of aligners fits perfectly, it will be time for retainers. The rule of thumb is to wear them as if they were regular trays for 2 weeks and at nighttime after that.

Invisible aligners care and maintenance

FAQ

Invisible braces are clear, plastic trays that go on your teeth. Each next pair has a slightly straighter design to shift your teeth into place.

If you go with Invisalign, you are likely to have buttons and attachments on the trays that will further help in alignment.

Many invisible aligner companies are backed up by thousands of positive reviews. Always do your research before choosing a brand. If your alignment issue is mild, you are likely to be very satisfied with the results.

Most treatment plans last a few months. Invisalign can quote longer times, but this is because they take on more complicated cases and make use of buttons and attachments.

The shortest average treatment plan is 3 months.

Home teeth straightening kits are designed by dentists and orthodontists to make sure the treatment is safe and effective. There are risks to aligning your teeth at home as with any other procedure, but patient reviews are overwhelmingly positive.

If your misalignment is too complex or severe, you will be rejected for remote treatment. Instead, you might have to go with Invisalign or traditional braces.

When you are aligning your teeth with invisible braces, you are shifting their position by force. The trays put constant pressure on the dentition to force them into alignment. This causes soreness in your jaw and gums.

High-frequency vibration therapy devices or chewies that are often included in straightening kits can help alleviate pain, but you are sure to experience some degree of discomfort either way.

In order to avoid unnecessary pain, adhere to instructions strictly. If you don’t wear your trays enough, if you lose them, or if you move on to the next set too quickly, the treatment is likely to be more painful.