The way you feel about your teeth can significantly impact the way you think about yourself. Crooked teeth can cause you to feel self-conscious when you smile and when you interact with others. Misaligned teeth can also lead to functional problems with your teeth over time. The good news is clear aligners are a popular and practical choice if you want to correct the misalignment of your teeth.

What Are Clear Aligners?

Clear aligners, also commonly known as invisible aligners, are an alternative to traditional metal braces. Invisible aligners are clear plastic trays that your orthodontist fits over your teeth. Each plastic tray is all slightly different and will apply a gentle pressure to your teeth to move them into alignment over time. Invisible aligners provide a more aesthetically pleasing and comfortable alternative to traditional metal braces.

How Do Clear Aligners Work?

Clear aligners work by applying gentle and consistent pressure to your teeth. Throughout your treatment, you will receive a series of customized trays. Each tray moves your teeth a little closer to alignment. During your in-person visits, your orthodontist closely monitors your progress to ensure everything is going as planned. If things aren’t going to plan, your orthodontist can adjust your treatment plan to get you back on track.

Your orthodontist can also use invisible aligners to make sure your bite is aligned correctly. This is important because it can prevent damage to your teeth and make it easier to maintain your dental health over time.

How long does it take for invisible aligners to work?

Depending on the complexity of your case and your compliance with your dentist’s instructions, clear aligner treatment will generally take the same amount of time as traditional braces. Your dentist can customize the treatment length of invisible aligners based on your needs.

Why Would You Need Clear Aligners?

Clear aligners are a great option if you are looking for a less conspicuous option than traditional metal braces. Many people choose clear aligners for aesthetic reasons. Traditional braces are noticeable and can be difficult to clean after eating. Invisible aligners allow your natural teeth to be the most noticeable thing about your smile. And, you can eat comfortably when you have clear aligners because they are removable. Clear aligners are a popular choice for adults who want straighter teeth but do not like the look of metal braces.

Clear Aligners vs. Braces

The answer to the debate of clear aligners vs. braces depends on your needs and preferences. Metal braces are a tried-and-true method for straightening teeth. However, most people are familiar with the basics of traditional braces, and there are some situations where traditional braces are the best option.

On the other hand, invisible aligners use cutting-edge technology to provide an effective alternative to traditional braces. You and your dentist will work together to determine if clear aligners are an option for your needs. The benefits of clear aligners include:

  • Clear trays that straighten your teeth without impeding your smile;
  • Increased comfort;
  • Ability to remove aligners for eating;
  • Ability to remove aligners to floss and brush teeth.

Which Type of Clear Aligner is Best for Your Teeth?

There are different types of clear aligners that you should investigate. In your research, you will find that invisible aligners are categorized as those that require the help of an orthodontist and those that you use exclusively at home.

Clear aligners that are monitored by an orthodontist involve a similar level of oversight as traditional braces. Moving your teeth is a complex process that must be done with care. Your orthodontist will require regular appointments to monitor your progress and adjust when needed. You can also talk to your orthodontist during those regular appointments about any concerns you have about your treatment. Invisalign® and Spark® clear aligners are popular and well-known brands that require the help of an orthodontist.

The other option for invisible aligners is in-home, do-it-yourself aligners. There is a long list of companies that offer self-managed treatment plans. With this option, you receive a set of clear aligners and a schedule for changing them out. Then, you follow the program and keep track of your progress. Many in-home clear aligner companies attempt to keep track of patient progress by asking for regular progress photos. But, again, the DIY element of this option can help keep the clear aligners cost down when compared with other options.

In all cases, clear aligners that an orthodontist monitors are the best option. The American Dental Association and the American Association of Orthodontists caution people about the dangers of self-managed orthodontic treatment. The condition of your gums, teeth, and underlying structure can impact what type of intervention is right for you. An orthodontist will take progress x-rays and images to help keep a close eye on your overall oral health during your treatment.

Do Clear Aligners Hurt?

Invisible aligners slowly move your teeth. The goal is to straighten your teeth and align your bite to have a beautiful and functional smile. There will be discomfort during the process of moving your teeth. Each time you switch to a new tray, you will likely experience a feeling of tightness, which may lead to temporary soreness or discomfort. This is a similar level of discomfort that people who get traditional braces experience after a visit to the orthodontist. The pain associated with clear aligners is temporary and may be managed with the help of over-the-counter pain medicine, as directed by your orthodontist.

How Much Do Clear Aligners Cost?

Before you decide what type of treatment is right for you, it is essential to ask, "how much are aligners for teeth?" The price of invisible aligners will vary based on several factors. In-home clear aligners are less expensive than those monitored by an orthodontist. Still, the lower cost of self-managed orthodontic treatment comes with increased risks. Dental insurance can help offset the out-of-pocket expense of orthodontist-monitored invisible aligners. And, in many cases, orthodontists offer payment plans that allow you to pay off the remainder of the cost over time.

Preserving Clear Aligners

Clear aligners do require a specific type of care. The most important part of preserving clear aligners is being careful about what you drink while wearing the aligners. Drinks with sugar and dark colors should be avoided, as the sugars and dyes in the drinks can get into the aligners and put your teeth at risk for decay. In addition, some colored beverages can stain the trays and leave them looking discolored. Finally, avoid drinking hot beverages when wearing clear aligners, as the heat may affect the integrity of the plastic.

The best way to prevent stains is to remove your aligners when you drink something other than water. There are also proper cleaning and maintenance protocols for invisible aligners. Correct and consistent oral hygiene will also help you preserve your clear aligners and keep them looking good.

Clear Aligners Before and After

Before and after pictures of patients who used clear aligners are the best way to see the clear aligners' results. You can look through clear aligners before and after pictures online to find examples of people who have experienced success using clear aligners.

Find the Best Orthodontist for Clear Aligners Near You

There is no question that the safest and most effective way to get invisible aligner treatment is with the help of an orthodontist. There are orthodontists throughout the United States that provide services for clear aligners. If you're asking yourself where to find a trusted dentist near me, the Smile Generation Find a Dentist tool can help you find a trusted orthodontist near you.