How Does Invisalign Work

Braces. Metal braces, wires, colored elastic bands, this is what you’d expect from a braces treatment.

Then came Invisalign who claimed they can straighten teeth with some plastic trays that fit snugly on your teeth. I bet you probably ask yourself: how does Invisalign work, still expecting your orthodontic treatment to rely on metal orthodontic devices, not these aligners.

How Does Invisalign Work

I first came across the Invisalign braces years ago, when undergoing an orthodontic treatment back home, in Romania.

My orthodontist allowed me to wear Damon braces for few months, to solve the most challenging aspects of my treatment and then prescribed Invisalign, since I had a radio show and speaking with braces was an issue.

Based on my own experience with the Invisalign aligners and the advice we get from their makers, we’ll find out today how invisalign works.

How Does Invisalign Work

Before we find out how the Invisalign braces work, let’s understand what happens during an orthodontic treatment:

How braces work:

  • an orthodontist assesses  your situation: how crooked your teeth are, if your bite is off etc.
  • based on this assessment (and molds, x-rays and so on) an orthodontic treatment plan is being  laid out.
  • whether you choose traditional braces, lingual braces or Invisalign, the same principles apply: your teeth need to be slowly rotated / moved to the right position, while your bite needs fixing as well
  • during the course of months / 2-3 years, your braces will apply a constant controlled force on your teeth, moving them to the right position
  • as the treatment ends, your smile becomes perfect and your orthodontist will decide what retainer you’ll wear.
  • for 2-3 years or (most likely) for the rest of your life, you’ll wear a retainer during nights, to keep that perfect smile of yours.

Now we’ll narrow down to Invisalign and the fact they don’t use metal / ceramic braces, archwires and other orthodontic devices, but clear aligners that are UNIQUE to your case.

They work on the same basic principle, they slowly move your teeth to the correct position by using clear plastic aligners and attachments (small composite bits attached to your teeth) to create your healthy and gorgeous smile.

Initial orthodontic assessment

After your dentist fixed your teeth (professional cleaning and repairing ALL cavities) you are ready for your orthodontist to start work on your case.

You’ll have x-rays done and molds (physical impression) or digital scan  of your teeth done. This way your orthodontist has a very clear image of what your teeth look like at the start of your orthodontic treatment.

A 3D model of your current bite / teeth is created, to start preparing your orthodontic treatment plan.

Orthodontic treatment planning

Dental technicians at Align Technology get these scans and start mapping your digital treatment plan, while working together with your current orthodontist to make sure it’s the most effective route.

The 3D animated plan is sent back to your orthodontist for approval.

The Invisalign aligners are created

Based on the treatment plan and the stages mapped for its completion, a series of unique Invisalign aligners are being printed out of your orthodontic case.

Each pair (upper and lower arch) is planned to work for 2 weeks (time might vary depending on your treatment plan, but usually it’s 2 weeks), then the next set is to be worn etc.

All these sets have small ‘changes’ in their appearance, so that your teeth won’t break during the treatment, but each slowly migrate your teeth to the correct position.

How to wear your Invisalign

Opposite to regular braces, which leave you no room to affect your treatment too much, Invisalign braces work ONLY if worn.

So, the more you wear them, the better.

Ideally 22 hours/day, which leaves enough room for eating, brushing and cleaning your aligners, then get them back on.

Every 6-8 weeks (or depending on your orthodontist availability) you’ll go for regular checkups. During these ‘activation’ consultations your doctor will decide to remove / add new attachments, make small changes to your treatment and oversee how your treatment is progressing.

What else should you know about your Invisalign braces?

  • they can stain easily. Avoid coffee, tea, soda and wine when wearing your Invisalign aligners. You could actually consume these while the aligners are off and then brush properly.
  • keep the aligners clean. Invisalign aligners can turn yucky if not properly cared for. ALWAYS brush your teeth after eating and also rinse (if not completely clean) the aligners. You can use special cleaning solutions or simply brush the aligners with toothpaste to keep them clean.
  • wear your Invisalign. Keep them on as much as possible, the success of your treatment depends on you only.
  • expect to wear your braces for at least 12 months. Sometimes even more. Depending on how much you ‘forgot’ to wear your Invisalign braces, your treatment could be prolonged.

Now that you know how does Invisalign work, find out an orthodontist who specializes in Invisalign and Invisalign Teens.


Are you an US based Orthodontist? List your practice for free on Orthdontic Braces. Call us at 929-413-2261 or drop a quick email to office@TheMedically.com to find out how.

How Does Invisalign Work