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How Does Invisalign Move Teeth?

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A young woman smiling and holding a clear aligner in her right hand.

Invisalign is becoming a more popular choice among many patients. The clear aligners can be less noticeable than traditional braces, and some wearers find them more comfortable and accommodating for different lifestyle needs.

But without the brackets and wires, how does Invisalign actually move teeth? Rather than tightening wires to pull teeth together, Invisalign uses a progression of aligners to exert constant, gentle pressure, moving teeth into position gradually. We can customize your Invisalign treatment plan to your needs with a consultation and dental exam. You’ll typically have to stop by every 6–8 weeks for a checkup as your teeth continue to shift.

What Is the Difference Between Braces & Invisalign?

Traditional braces are a standard treatment for misaligned or crooked teeth that use brackets and wires glued to your teeth. Braces use constant pressure to gradually bring your teeth into the position you want.

While they’re a classic look, many people feel they stick out and can be uncomfortable. Not to mention, an orthodontist may need to tighten them regularly, which can be time-consuming. Still, traditional braces can be a good choice for people with severe tooth crowding. Fortunately, Invisalign could be an alternative.

Invisalign is a clear and removable aligner tray custom-made to fit over your teeth. It uses a series of trays to progressively shift your teeth into alignment. During your initial consultation, we can create a digital 3D image of your teeth using X-rays, scans, and photos. From there, we can design a detailed treatment plan to gradually shift your misaligned teeth. 

Invisalign aligners are worn for at least 22 hours daily and removed only when you eat or brush your teeth. Each set is typically worn for about 2 weeks before you switch to the next tray. The length of this process can depend on how misaligned your teeth may be and your final goals for your smile—it continues until the teeth are in their final position.

How Does Invisalign Work?

Invisalign aligners work by exerting a gentle, constant force on the teeth. Each set of aligners helps progressively move your teeth into a more ideal position over time. The aligners are designed to focus on specific teeth in each phase, gradually shifting them until they’re in the desired location. 

Each successive set of aligners has slight differences in shape and force to continue the corrective movement. The differences in each set of aligners may seem small, but they can be significant when it comes to moving teeth. 

During your ongoing treatment, we can precisely plan every movement and force needed to create the desired outcome using computerized treatment planning software.

The Invisalign system can also apply more force to a specific tooth or area of the mouth. For example, if there’s a problem tooth that needs to be moved more than others, your aligners can gradually apply more force to that tooth than the surrounding teeth. This targeted force is one of the reasons Invisalign treatments could work faster than braces.

SmartTrack Material for a Comfortable Fit

Unlike traditional braces that apply force to the teeth using brackets and wires, Invisalign aligners use a material called SmartTrack, which was specifically made for Invisalign. Patients have reported it’s more comfortable than earlier materials.

SmartTrack is a medical-grade, multilayer polyurethane material that encourages teeth to shift into proper alignment. SmartTrack is also made to withstand the wear and tear of everyday life, such as chewing and talking, without losing its shape or effectiveness.

A female dentist in blue scrubs and a woman sitting in a dentist's chair looking at a tablet and smiling.

The Benefits of Invisalign

Wanting a better bite or smile doesn’t have an age limit—Invisalign can help teens and adults get the look they want. And that’s just 1 of the benefits Invisalign offers!

Subtle Appearance

One of the main appeals of Invisalign is its ability to blend in with your natural smile. Unlike traditional braces, the clear aligner trays are designed to be subtle. 

Many teenagers and adults shy away from traditional braces because they believe they’re unattractive, making them self-conscious. With Invisalign, you can continue your daily activities with orthodontic treatment that may not draw as much attention as braces.

Less Dietary Restrictions

Traditional braces come with a long list of forbidden foods. Sticky and crunchy foods such as popcorn, bubble gum, and candy can damage or break wires and brackets, extending the length of treatment.

Your food options with Invisalign may be less restricted because you can remove the clear aligner trays before meals—that can be a huge perk for teenagers who love their snacks and adults who enjoy a variety of foods. However, it’s still important to be aware of the foods that can damage your aligners and avoid eating while wearing them.

Easier Oral Hygiene

Braces can make your mouth challenging to clean, leading to plaque buildup and undesirable breath. Invisalign, however, can be removed during your daily brushing and flossing routine. This could make it easier to keep up with your dental hygiene and maintain a clean, healthy smile.

Designed for Comfort

Traditional braces can be painful at times. From the tightening of the wires to the brackets rubbing against your inner cheeks, it’s not always a pleasant experience. Invisalign is made of smooth plastic, and many patients find it more comfortable than traditional braces. 

Shorter Treatment Time

Most traditional braces remain on for around 2 years and, in some cases, even longer. In some cases, Invisalign can shorten the time needed to align teeth, with some patients finishing treatment in as little as 6 months!

Learn the Facts About Invisalign

Invisalign is an impressive system that’s changed modern tooth alignment treatment for many people. By precisely planning every movement with a custom-made system of aligners, we can help you achieve results while potentially reducing the discomfort and anxiety often associated with traditional braces.At Marks Dentistry, we love talking about Invisalign and are happy to answer your questions. Whether you or your child are experiencing problems caused by tooth misalignment, Invisalign could be the answer. Book an appointment today and let’s find out if it’s right for you!

Written by Dr. Jonah Marks

Dr. Jonah Marks received his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the Schulich School of Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario. During his time at Schulich, Dr. Marks volunteered at Schulich’s Dental Outreach Community Services, providing pro bono dental treatment to underprivileged patients in London, Ontario. He currently provides pro bono work for LAMP Community Health Care Centre and the Alpha Omega Dental Volunteer Program. In addition, Dr. Marks travelled to Nicaragua where he provided dental care in underserved communities.

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