The Ultimate Guide to Invisible Aligners

What does your smile mean to you? What do you think it means to others? A study performed by Bupa (an international healthcare affiliate) revealed that 30% of participants stated they were embarrassed by their smile. It’s not surprising—a smile is often a large part of the first impression people receive when they meet each other, and its aesthetic can be noticeable. Everyone is after that perfectly symmetrical smile, and they go to great lengths to get it.

Fortunately, if you’re having issues with your smile, there’s a good chance they’re totally fixable.  Braces have generally monopolized the teeth straightening industry for the better part of a century, and nowadays Americans who have had braces are a lot more common than those who haven’t. But in the past few years, alternatives to traditional metal braces have flooded the market, introducing dental patients to a new world of convenient and sometimes more cost-effective options. The most popular alternative? Invisible aligners.

How Do Invisible Aligners Work?

Just like traditional braces, invisible aligners are designed to shift teeth that are visually or structurally out of place. It’s a process that happens over time, typically between six to twenty-four months, and is meant to gradually shift all of the patient’s teeth to achieve proper placement. Though aesthetic is a big objective for many people considering aligners, the main goal from the orthodontist’s perspective is for their patients to obtain a healthy bite that allows their top and bottom teeth to fit comfortably together. These aligners are made of flexible, plastic-like material that molds to your teeth and applies firm but gentle pressure, causing a slight shift with each new tray installment. When you first receive a new set of trays, they’re basically plastic models of what your teeth will look like after the new phase.

The invisible aligner process is not overly complex, but it can be time-consuming. And it should be—you’re essentially altering bones in your face. It typically goes like this:

An orthodontist examines a patient’s teeth to determine any issues that might necessitate liners. This may require tests and documentation such as impressions, digital scans, x-rays, and photographs of the teeth.

Once the orthodontist determines the best course of action, he or she works with state-of-the-art aligner software to map out the patient’s tray fitment into the future.

The first round of trays are crafted and given to the patient.

The liners should be switched out for a new set every two weeks.

One traditional element to invisible aligners remains: At the end of the process, the patient receives retainers for their now-perfectly placed teeth.

In recent years, independent dental companies have developed their own invisible aligner products. In a way, this cuts out the virtual “middle man” and doesn’t require on-site consultations. Their process is a bit different than an orthodontist’s:

How Do You Straighten Your Teeth at Home?

The patient receives an impression kit in the mail from the aligners company with which to make molds of their teeth, which they then send back to the company.

The dental company processes the impressions and creates a depiction of what the patient’s teeth will look like, plus an estimate of how long the whole treatment will take.

The dental company will send the patient the aligners (sometimes one to two sets at a time, sometimes all aligners at once) and any additional equipment or materials they may need.

Invisible aligners should be worn at least 22 hours a day. The only times they should be removed is during meals (or snacktime), when brushing your teeth, and when cleaning the aligners. However, they are more comfortable than metal braces, and unlike those braces they easily slide on and off. This means you can enjoy the small things in life, such as eating food.

Am I a Candidate For Aligners?

Though the best invisible aligners can handle some pretty difficult, complex problems, you don’t necessarily have to have a stubborn issue in order to qualify for them. From serious overbites to a tooth that has twisted slightly out of alignment - if it bothers you it’s worth getting checked out. The best way to know if you’re a candidate for aligners is to consult an orthodontist (preferably a member of the American Association of Orthodontists, or AAO) to get a thorough assessment of your teeth, and to better identify specific problems. The most common issues that can be addressed with invisible aligners include:

Though invisible aligners are designed to fix difficult problems, some prove a little too tricky for trays. Candidacy for aligners often depends on the severity of the problem; for example, they could coexist with a cavity but if it’s too deep, the patient may feel some pain or discomfort. Some overbites and underbites are so pronounced, it takes a dental procedure to correct them, so invisible aligners won’t be effective in that instance. An accredited orthodontist should be able to point these kinds of roadblocks out from the start, and can advise on the best course of action to take from there. Issues that might prevent the possibility of invisible aligners include:

Gum disease (must be treated before application)

Cavities (must be filled to ensure aligners fit properly)

Small or eroded teeth

Dental implants or bridges

Extreme over or underbites

Issues that will require dental procedures or oral surgery

What Is Your Smile Worth?

A main concern in any teeth correction venture is how much the process will hurt your wallet. Whether you decide to invest in metal braces or invisible aligners, it’s a time-consuming process that takes expensive equipment, professional skill, and many man hours to achieve. Those looking to get their teeth straightened generally expect to spend several thousand dollars on the procedure, and must plan accordingly. So how much do invisible aligners cost in comparison to traditional braces?

Overall, invisible aligners are fairly comparable in price to traditional metal braces, which typically cost somewhere between $3,000 and $7,500 total. Depending on the brand and orthodontist, as well as the severity of the case, invisible aligners cost between $2,000 and $5,500. Top brands cost more, as they sell at a retail price, but some orthodontists have developed their own products that they sell at a reduced cost.

As far as dental insurance goes, most plans have similar coverage for invisible aligners as they do for traditional braces.

There’s a lot to learn when considering at-home invisible aligners, and no company is the same. Fortunately, Smilelove turns the teeth straightening process into less of an ordeal and more of an exciting experience as you witness the results firsthand over time. Smilelove provides quality aligners that quickly and efficiently take care of your stubborn teeth issues, and will answer any questions you may have about the product or the process. Not only is Smilelove quality and customer service unmatched, but we also manage to keep operating costs low and provide the most affordable aligners in the industry. Do you think invisible liners are the best option for you? Smilelove is ready to straighten everything out.