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Clear Aligners for Teeth (Invisalign®)

Clear aligners can straighten teeth, move them into the proper position, and close gaps without the use of traditional braces. Many people prefer these virtually invisible aligners for cosmetic reasons and because they can be removed to eat, brush, or floss. 


However, not everyone is a candidate for clear aligners. Keep reading to learn more so you can ask the right questions when meeting with your dentist or orthodontist.


How Do Clear Aligners Work?

Clear aligners are small plastic trays that fit tightly over teeth and apply pressure to move them into the desired position. Patients wear a series of aligner trays during the course of their treatment, with each tray making minute changes that can add up to straighter teeth.

How Much Do Clear Aligners Cost?

The average cost of clear aligner treatment can be between $1,700 and $5,500 or more. However, you may pay more or less based on the length of your treatment, your dentist’s rates, and dental insurance coverage.

Benefits of Clear Aligners

Clear aligners are a good alternative for patients who want a straighter smile, but do not want to wear traditional braces. Additionally, aligners are beneficial for patients with previous orthodontic treatment who want to make minor corrections to their smile. There are several advantages to using clear aligners:

  • Clear aligners are difficult for other people to see
  • You don’t need to avoid sticky foods or gum because you take out clear aligners before eating
  • It’s easy to brush and floss after meals since the aligners are removable
  • Clear aligners are more comfortable and less likely to irritate the gums and cheeks than braces

Your Clear Aligner Treatment Plan

The process of using clear aligners to straighten or position teeth can be broken down into the following steps:

  1. First, your dentist or orthodontist will determine if you’re a candidate for clear aligners.

  2. If your dental professional decides clear aligners are a viable option, they’ll take a mold of your teeth. A 3-D model of this mold will be uploaded to a software program that designs aligner trays to bring about the desired results.

  3. Once the trays are ready, tiny buttons will be attached to several teeth to keep the aligners in place and apply pressure to precise spots. You’ll receive personalized instructions on how long to wear each tray and the total length of treatment. Note that it’s not unusual for treatment times to change depending on how well your teeth respond to the aligners.

  4. Your dentist or orthodontist will schedule follow-up appointments to monitor the progress of the treatment.

  5. Once your teeth are in the correct position, the buttons will be removed and voila! You’ll have a new smile.


How Long Do You Need to Wear Clear Aligners?

Clear aligner treatment times vary. Making minor changes to the position of teeth may only take a few months. However, treating more complex issues can take several years. Another factor is whether your teeth respond as expected. Resistance to movement can result in delays.

Are Clear Aligners Effective?

Yes, clear aligners are effective when used to move teeth in specific ways. They’ve helped many people improve the position of their teeth without the use of metal braces, which have made them very popular with adults who need orthodontic treatment.

Types of Clear Aligners

Pioneering the way with the use of clear aligners for both orthodontic and cosmetic treatment, Invisalign® treatment remains a popular choice among dental professionals. Invisalign treatment is available through dentists and orthodontics.

Several new players have come into the market recently, including over-the-counter and direct-to-consumer options. While sometimes cheaper than traditional aligners, these companies don’t always offer in-person visits with dental professionals. That can become an issue if complex treatment is needed or teeth don’t respond as planned.

Can Anyone Use Clear Aligners?

Unfortunately, not everyone is a candidate for clear aligners. There are several reasons a dentist or orthodontist may decide against using them on your teeth.

First, there are limits to the amount and type of tooth movement you can expect from clear aligners. Traditional braces allow for more dramatic changes and may be the best way to go when making major adjustments.

Next, age can play a factor. Many orthodontists are reluctant to use aligners in kids because their teeth are still moving into position. This is why you still see many young people with metal braces.



Are Clear Aligners Painful?

Most people experience minor discomfort for a short time when wearing new aligner trays. The sensation of pressure or soreness is normal during this period, but usually goes away within a day of starting each tray. A tray becomes more comfortable to wear as your teeth move into place. You should call your dentist or orthodontist if you suffer from persistent or severe pain so they can evaluate the situation.

Clear Aligners vs. Braces

While clear aligners and braces solve similar problems, it’s not always a choice between one or the other. Your dentist or orthodontist will use their expertise to decide if clear aligners are appropriate for you. They may opt for braces due to the wider range of tooth movement possible with that approach.

Metal braces may also work faster than clear aligners and that can be a deciding factor for both dentists and patients. In the end, all dental and orthodontic treatment plans come down to what’s best for a particular person.