Invisalign: Everything You Need to Know

By Satish Pai, MS, DDS, MDS | Published 8/29/2019 1


Photo source: iStock

Misaligned teeth are extremely common. It is important to rectify them as they increase the risk of oral health problems. They also affect the appearance of the smile. Braces help rectify improperly aligned teeth. However, the traditional metal braces are bulky, difficult to care for and have a lot of other hassles.

With the advancement in orthodontics, the teeth straightening procedure has become easy, effective and hassle-free. Invisalign – also known as clear aligners – are one of the most popular choices for correcting improperly aligned teeth and achieving a perfectly straight smile.

Related Content:  It’s Now Easier Than Ever to Have a Beautiful Smile

Commonly asked questions about Invisalign

So, let’s find more about Invisalign. Listed below are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about these invisible aligners.

  • What is Invisalign?

Invisalign clear aligners are a set of removable aligners that are customized as per the patient’s needs. They do not have wires or brackets like the traditional braces. Since they are made from clear material, they are almost invisible.

  • Which problems can Invisalign solve?

These clear aligners can solve the below-described problems:

1.  Poor bites

When the teeth in the upper row are slightly in front of bottom teeth, it is known as an overbite. If the teeth in the bottom row are in front of the teeth in the upper row, it is known as an underbite. When some of the upper teeth come down inside the bottom teeth, it is known as a crossbite. If the mouth is closed and the teeth in both the jaws don’t meet, it is known as an open bite. All these types of poor bites make the teeth prone to cavities, gum diseases, wearing and chipping. Invisalign can help rectify all these types of bad bites by gradually shifting the teeth back to their ideal position.

2.  Spaces Between Teeth 

Sometimes there are excessive gaps between two or more teeth. Apart from being an aesthetic problem, such a situation also increases the risk of gum diseases and cavities. As long as these gaps aren’t extreme, they can be fixed by Invisalign.

  • What is involved in an Invisalign treatment?

These clear aligners are designed to exert gentle force on teeth in order to gradually bring them together so that they are aesthetically and functionally aligned correctly. The orthodontist designs them as per your requirement. They are changed usually around every two weeks. This enables the orthodontist to monitor the progress regularly and alter the aligners if required. The progress is gradual but you need not deal with the hassles and discomfort which comes with traditional braces.

  • How long is the treatment period?

It depends on the nature of your alignment issues. Though generally the treatment for adults is completed within 12 to 18 months and for tweens it usually lasts for about 2 to 3 years.

  • How often are these aligners to be worn?

Even though they are easily removable so there can be a temptation to take them off repeatedly. That is understandable, however, they must be worn for 20 to 22 hours every day. They may be removed to drink or eat, but should be worn right back after rinsing the mouth. If they aren’t worn for the prescribed minimum duration, the progress will be delayed.

  • Do these aligners hurt?

These aligners do exert pressure on the teeth in order to align them correctly. However, a majority of patients hardly notice their presence once they get used to them. In the beginning, a little soreness or discomfort is common. But the discomfort generally goes away within a few days. As the teeth and the mouth get used to the pressure exerted by them, the soreness also fades away. Headaches might be experienced in the early days, but minor pain medication can help.

  • How to care for these aligners?

Since they are made from clear material, they can get discolored or stained if not cared for properly. To ensure that they remain clean and in good condition, the following measures should be taken:

    1. Remove the aligners every morning and clean the teeth and the aligners thoroughly. Repeat this routine before bedtime also. 
    2. After removing them, soak the aligners in the solution prescribed by the orthodontist. Next, rinse them to prevent the buildup of dry saliva and plaque. Brush the aligners with a toothbrush with soft bristles to remove any remaining food debris. Finish by washing them with an antibacterial solution.
    3. Remember to clean the teeth properly before putting the aligners back on. If there are any food particles stuck to the teeth, they will be trapped inside the aligners. This will increase the risk of cavities and other oral problems in the long run.
  • Why prefer Invisalign over traditional braces?

Traditional metal braces have a bulky structure because they are comprised of metal brackets and wires. These can cause discomfort and even pain. The diet is also restricted as only certain types of foods can be eaten to avoid damage to the braces. Since they cannot be easily removed, cleaning your teeth and mouth becomes challenging. Invisalign does not have any of these hassles. Hence they are a good choice as compared to the traditional braces.

Related Content:  The Advantages of Invisalign over Traditional Metal Braces

  • What are the benefits of Invisalign?

Following are the benefits of these clear aligners:

    1. Virtually invisible
    2. Easily removable
    3. Easy to clean
    4. Comfortable
    5. Convenient
    6. Sport-friendly
  • In what cases is Invisalign unsuitable?

Invisalign has certain limitations. They may be unsuitable in certain cases, such as

    • severe underbite,
    • too much gap in between the teeth, gum diseases,
    • weakened jawbones,
    • receding gums,
    • rotated teeth and teeth which are short, pegged, round or have a sharp tip.

In some such cases, Invisalign might be combined with braces for better results. In others, they may be completely unsuitable. It’s best to consult an experienced orthodontist to determine whether or not is Invisalign suitable for your particular case. 

  • Do you have to wear retainers after Invisalign treatment?

In a majority of the cases, orthodontists will recommend that retainers to be worn after the Invisalign treatment. This ensures that the teeth do not move back to the original position. Generally, the more drastic the correction, the more likely that the orthodontist will advise the use of retainers. Mostly, the retainers are to be worn at night.

The bottom line

There are many advantages of Invisalign over traditional braces for achieving a healthy, attractive smile. However, they are not appropriate for everyone. If you are considering Invisalign, it is best to consult an experienced orthodontist to best understand how these advanced aligners can address your needs.


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Satish Pai, MS, DDS, MDS


Dr. Satish Pai is committed to creating perfect smiles. An orthodontist by profession, he believes that a perfect smile is a powerful part of a person’s personality. When he is not working hard on perfecting his patients’ smiles at Putnam Orthodontics, he is busy writing engaging articles about everything related to healthy and perfect smiles. His other passions include golf, yoga, and surfing. Spending time with his family always brings a smile on his face.


  • The fact that Invisalign trays are easy to clean and comfortable was my favorite takeaway from this article. This could really help convince my son to get some help with his teeth that are slowly curving out of shape since he doesn’t want to get braces with how scary they can be for him. I’ll look for any Invisalign dentists in the area that can help him get a tray so his treatment can begin early.

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