How Does Invisalign Work? Your Guide to Vir­tu­al­ly Invis­i­ble Teeth Straightening

Invisalign is prob­a­bly the fastest grow­ing ortho­don­tic treat­ment plan in the UK. Invisalign was intro­duced over 20 years ago and has since helped over 15 mil­lion patients to achieve straighter smiles.

What is unique about Invisalign is the age range of the patients. Whereas traditional orthodontics are most commonly used by teenagers, Invisalign is popular with patients of all ages.

In fact, provided you have good overall health, there is no upper age limit for Invisalign. But before you choose this treatment plan, you might be wondering, how exactly does it work? In this guide, we’re looking at the treatment plan from start to finish, to help give you a better understanding of how Invisalign works.

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign is a teeth straightening system that uses clear plastic retainers to straighten your teeth rather than brackets and wires. The retainers are similar to the type of retainer you might wear at night following traditional orthodontic treatment. But instead of using the retainers to keep your teeth in position, the retainers are used to apply pressure to the teeth at strategic points.

With traditional fixed braces, you’re stuck wearing them day and night until the end of the treatment. But with Invisalign, you can remove them to eat, drink and brush your teeth. You can also easily clean your aligners by soaking them in denture cleaning tablets, which makes them incredibly easy to care for.

How does Invisalign work?

The treatment process all starts with a digital scan of your teeth. This scan allows us to create a complete picture of your mouth. We can map where each tooth is at present, and where each tooth needs to be. We can also determine the optimum path to move each tooth.

From here, we know the length of treatment required. For some people, they will only need to wear their aligners for around 6 months, but others will need to wear their aligners for up to 2 years.

The treatment plan is designed in 10-14 day increments. Each aligner is designed to apply strategic pressure to the teeth. As you move through the case of aligners, changing them according to your schedule, your teeth will get a little bit closer to perfect alignment.

What is Invisalign made of?

Invisalign is made of a special plastic that can be easily moulded to the right shape but is strong and holds its shape. This is known as polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). The edges are laser cut to fit the shape of your gums, so there is no risk of overlap that could rub against your gums.

An important thing to note about Invisalign is that it is very strong and durable, but it’s not indestructible. It can be warped by hot liquids, which is why you need to take your aligners out to enjoy tea or coffee. And while the plastic might be clear, it can take on colour from other things such as mouthwash or fizzy drinks.

What can Invisalign treat?

Invisalign is suitable for most orthodontic cases. There is a common misconception that it can only be used to treat simple cases, but this isn’t true. You could address a wide range of issues, including:

  • Gaps

  • Rotations

  • Overbite, underbite, crossbite, open bite

  • Crooked teeth

  • Overcrowding

There are additional treatment options like attachments and precision wings that will enable us to address more complex issues. So, if you’ve always assumed you wouldn’t be a candidate for this treatment, it could be worth exploring your options with your dentist.

What is it like to wear Invisalign?

Most patients need a few days to adjust to wearing their aligners. There is also a learning curve when it comes to caring for your aligners and caring for your teeth.

At first, you might feel a little strange wearing the aligners as they will apply pressure to your teeth. The days following an aligner adjustment are often the most uncomfortable, so we recommend using over the counter pain medication if this bothers you at all.

You’ll also need to get used to taking your aligners out every time you want to eat or drink anything other than water. It can take some time to get the hang of taking out your aligners, so we recommend practising with your dentist so you can get more confident.

You will also need to learn how to clean your aligners. We recommend rinsing them every time you take them out and then soaking them in a denture cleaning solution twice a day while you brush your teeth.

You’ll also need to get into the habit of making sure you put your aligners back into your mouth. This is a common mistake that new patients will often make. Your aligners will have wear indicators, so your dentist can see if you are wearing the aligners enough.

Does Invisalign treatment ever fail?

This treatment can fail on occasion. Sometimes, the alignment issues are too complex and the teeth do not respond to the treatment. This is typically because the patient finds it uncomfortable and regularly takes their aligners out to find relief. Unfortunately, this means that your treatment won’t work.

You need to wear your aligners for a minimum amount of time every day or the treatment is likely to fail. If you are forgetful, or you know you don’t have the discipline to wear your aligners, we would recommend fixed braces to address your alignment problems. This will reduce the risk that your treatment could fail.

Final thoughts

Invisalign is a highly versatile treatment plan that has helped many people to achieve their dream smiles. If you’re curious about treatment, the best course of action would be to book an Invisalign consultation.

This will allow you to see the potential improvements to your smile and will also enable you to ask questions about the treatment and the associated cost. Get in touch with our team today if you have further questions about Invisalign treatment and if it could be right for you.