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How Does Invisalign Work?

Take a deep dive into the science of Invisalign
Read Time: 4 minutes
Sep 25, 2023

Invisalign began gaining popularity in the early 2000s as a way to get straighter teeth without having to go through the hassle of braces. Since its marketing began in the early 2000s, more and more people have been using Invisalign. But what, exactly, is Invisalign and how does it work?

What Is Invisalign?

Invisalign is made up of clear aligners, although they’re popularly known by the public as “clear braces.” The product is a clear, plastic alternative to braces for kids, teenagers, and adults. Unlike braces, there are no wires or brackets used to straighten your teeth. Instead, you’ll use a mold shaped to your mouth and teeth which, over time, will begin to straighten your teeth.

How Do You Get Invisalign?

Dentists who want to offer Invisalign will need to undergo specific Invisalign training to understand what it is and how to use it to help the patient get the best results. You can ask your dentist if they offer Invisalign. If your own dentist doesn’t, then you can ask them for recommendations, search online, or even use the official Invisalign website to find an Invisalign-trained dentist.

Who Needs Invisalign?

For your dentist to consider Invisalign treatment, they’ll have to take into account multiple factors. Generally, most people are able to qualify for Invisalign treatment, but your age, tooth health, and the severity of your alignment issues will play a role in whether it’s the best treatment for you.

Who Shouldn’t Use Invisalign?

For those with serious gum diseases and tooth decay, it could be detrimental to your tooth health to begin Invisalign treatment. Additionally, if your teeth’s alignment problems are extreme, Invisalign alone won’t be able to correct them. Your dentist may opt to start with traditional braces and then switch to Invisalign after a certain amount of time.

What Is Invisalign Made Of?

A person holding one side of Invisalign aligners and the other side of the aligners are still in the packaged container.

Invisalign trays are made of a specific plastic called polyurethane resin. This plastic is medical grade with a high molecular weight. It is also strong enough to gradually shift the teeth through pressure, but it’s comfortable enough to wear daily without issue.

How Are Invisalign Trays Made?

Your specific Invisalign trays will be made out of X-rays and digital scans your dentist will take of your teeth and mouth. These aligners will be used throughout the Invisalign treatment to help straighten out your teeth.

What Does Invisalign Do?

A close-up of a woman’s mouth with Invisalign clear aligners over her teeth

The Invisalign trays will use gentle pressure to steadily push your teeth to a better position. There may be a bit of discomfort as you’ll have to wear the trays daily for a period of time each day. It’s important to stick to the routine, as not using your trays for extended periods can lead to the process reversing or a lot of discomfort when attempting to use the trays again.

Visit Your Dentist Regularly for New Aligners

Staying committed to the treatment also includes going to the dentist’s office every 4-6 weeks to ensure that it’s working and that there are no problems with the treatment. Additionally, you’ll need to see your dentist to receive your next set of aligners. Depending on the treatment plan as well as your commitment to the treatment, the process can take anywhere from 9-12 months to complete.

What Is the Invisalign Process?

The process starts with receiving your aligners. Your aligners are based on your mouth using your dentist’s pictures of your teeth. Your dentist will then create a plan that maps out the shifts of your teeth as time goes on. The mapping of the shifts in your teeth will help create the additional trays you’ll have after your first one.

How Long Do You Have to Wear Each Aligner/

The shifts in the aligners are to continue to push your teeth to the desired position. You’ll wear each pair of aligners for 1-2 weeks and then switch to your new ones to continue the treatment.

Invisalign Tip

Make sure you brush your teeth after eating and before inserting your Invisalign tray to prevent buildup.

Is Invisalign Right for You?

A dentist with his thumb up and holding an X-ray of his patient’s teeth

It’s important that you discuss with your dentist about the course of action and any treatment plans. Invisalign treatment requires collaboration and support from your dentist, so having ongoing communication with them about the treatment is essential. If you think you may need Invisalign treatment, reach out to your dentist and ask them for their recommendations.

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