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Invisalign Clear BracesInvisalign

The Invisalign® system is a series of clear, removable teeth aligners that dentists use as an alternative to traditional metal dental braces.

How it works

The dentist/orthodontist begins by taking dental impressions, X-rays, and photographs of the patient's teeth and sending them to Align Technology. The impressions are scanned using 3-D computer-imaging technology to create a 3-D model of your teeth. Based on directions from the dentist, the complete treatment plan, from the initial position of your teeth to the final desired position, is determined and plastic resin aligners are manufactured for each step in the treatment. The patient will wear each aligner for about 2 weeks before moving on to the next aligner in the series. The length of treatment depends on the degree of tooth movement required, but can range from a few of months to over a year.


The most obvious advantage of the treatment is cosmetic because the aligners are completely transparent, therefore far more difficult to detect than traditional wire and bracket braces. This makes the method particularly popular among adults who want to straighten their teeth without the look of traditional metal braces commonly worn by children and adolescents. In addition, the aligners are marketed as being more comfortable than braces. Due to the removable nature of the device, it is easy to eat meals normally compared to the discomfort associated with eating with tradition metallic braces.


The major disadvantage of Invisalign is that the success of the treatment is based on the patient's commitment to wearing the aligners for about 22 hours per day, only removing them when they are eating, drinking, or brushing their teeth. Another disadvantage is that patients sometimes lose the aligners when they take them out to eat. Non-compliance can cause the teeth to shift out of alignment which will cause the next aligner in the series not to fit. This will require a new set of impressions and aligners and additional cost to the treatment.

If at the end of treatment, it is determined that not all of the request tooth movement was achieved, new aligners are ordered, in a process called Refinement. The Refinement is usually included in the original cost of treatment.