If you’re thinking about getting orthodontic treatment for yourself or your teen, Invisalign provides an alternative to traditional braces.

But what exactly is Invisalign? How does it work to straighten teeth? Is Invisalign treatment painful? What are the advantages of Invisalign compared with braces? How much does Invisalign treatment cost?

In this post, you’ll find the answers to these questions and discover everything else you need to know about Invisalign.

What Is Invisalign?

Invisalign was introduced in the late 1990s, and the state-of-the-art technology of these plastic aligners changed the orthodontic landscape.

The innovative teeth straightening system was designed by Align Technology, a U.S.-based multinational medical device company.

Invisalign comes in the form of clear plastic aligner trays you wear over your teeth. The aligners are custom made with CAD/CAM technology – computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing. The aligners themselves also have advanced orthodontic features.

How Does Invisalign Work?

You get on average 20 to 30 Invisalign aligner trays to wear for a couple of weeks each for 20 to 22 hours a day. The aligners gently move teeth gradually and progressively in precisely timed and regulated sequences.

Invisalign exerts less force than braces and isn’t designed to resolve complex orthodontic issues when teeth need to be moved significantly. However, Invisalign technology is constantly advancing to broaden the scope of treatments, and experienced Invisalign dentists can often treat a wider range of orthodontic problems.

Invisalign corrects less severe cases of crooked, crowded, gapped, or protruding teeth. It can also resolve bite issues when upper and lower teeth don’t come together properly.

Does Invisalign Hurt?

With no metal wires or brackets, Invisalign is more comfortable than braces but your teeth may feel a little sore when you begin treatment and each time you start to wear a new aligner tray. This minor discomfort is due to the tension on your teeth and usually subsides within a few days.

In one study, more than one-third of Invisalign users reported a pain-free experience. Those who did get some discomfort said it disappeared after a few days of putting in a new aligner.

The good news is that if you do notice any discomfort when wearing your aligners, it’s a sign they’re working by applying the necessary pressure to reposition your teeth.

Advantages of Invisalign

Invisalign addresses orthodontic problems faster, more discreetly, and with greater comfort and convenience than regular braces. There’s also less risk of oral health issues.

Invisalign treatment takes six to 24 months, averaging out at 12 months. Treatment with braces takes on average about 24 months.

Made with medical-grade transparent plastic, Invisalign aligners are practically unnoticeable in the mouth.

Each movement of your teeth is planned with a level of pressure to minimize discomfort. The aligner trays also incorporate SmartTrack flexibility to reduce dental pressure.

Invisalign aligners are more convenient than braces because they’re removable. You take out your aligner trays for meals and snacks. This avoids the long list of dietary restrictions that you get with braces.

While the brackets and wires of fixed braces make oral hygiene difficult, you remove your aligners to brush and floss your teeth as normal.

The disadvantages of Invisalign are minimal because of constant innovations and improvements. Nevertheless, Invisalign treatment requires a commitment to keeping the aligner trays in place 20 to 22 hours a day.

Invisalign Treatment Costs

Invisalign treatment is priced about the same or slightly higher than braces, averaging $3,000 to $5,000, according to the Consumer Guide to Dentistry.

Many dental insurance companies cover at least a portion of the cost of Invisalign treatment. You can also make treatment more affordable by finding a dental office that accepts credit cards or flexible payment plans like Invisalign financing.

How to Look After Invisalign Aligners

Invisalign aligner trays need to be kept clean to avoid a build-up of bacterial plaque, which causes cavities and gum disease.

  • Brush your aligners gently at least twice a day.
  • Use clear anti-bacterial liquid soap to clean your aligners with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Rinse them in lukewarm water.
  • Rinse your aligners each time you remove them.
  • Remove your aligners when you eat, or drink anything except plain water.
  • Brush and floss your teeth before putting your aligners back in.

You can also use the Invisalign Cleaning System – crystals that dissolve in a cup of water. When not wearing your aligners, keep them in your protective Invisalign case.

Removing Your Aligners and Putting Them Back In

You may initially find it slightly difficult to remove your aligners but it should get easier with time.

  • Don’t rush when removing your aligners. Lack of patience can result in damage to the trays and your teeth.
  • Release your aligner tray by starting from the final back tooth on each side of your mouth. This makes it easier to handle the aligner.
  • Wear surgical gloves. Thin surgical gloves will give you a better grip to remove your aligners while preventing damage to your fingers or fingernails.

When putting your aligners back in, you should

  • Start with the front teeth.
  • Work your way to the sides of your mouth.
  • Gently push the aligner over all your teeth.
  • Make sure the aligner is a snug fit, but don’t force it in place.

Will Invisalign Work for You?

Most people are good candidates for Invisalign treatment, and many choose it because of its advantages over braces.

However, braces may be more suitable to treat complex orthodontic issues such as a combination of different problems. In other cases, Invisalign may not work as effectively because of the shape or positioning of teeth. Previous dental treatment like getting a bridge, crowns, or veneers can also rule out Invisalign treatment.

That said, the limitations of Invisalign are being constantly reduced, with more difficult cases becoming treatable with advances in technology. Invisalign is the most advanced clear aligner system in the world and the most popular removable type of orthodontic appliance.

Contact us to find out for sure whether Invisalign is right for you or your teen.