What is Invisalign?

Gregory J. Jorgensen, DMD
Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics

Invisalign is a system for orthodontically straightening teeth using a series of clear "shells" (aligners) that snap over your teeth. Your orthodontist begins your treatment by creating a very accurate digital model of your mouth. He then diagnoses, treatment plans, and straightens your teeth on a computer using a mouse instead of pliers and wires. Once the result is exactly as he desires, he sends the digital prescription to a manufacturing facility where a series of aligners is constructed that will move your teeth little by little until they are straight. The number of aligners (and the length of treatment) is determined by how crooked your teeth are. Each aligner is worn for about two weeks before being replaced by the next one. Your teeth will still get sore as the same biological responses are called into play. The biggest advantages of Invisalign are that you can take them out to eat and brush and no one will know you are undergoing treatment. The biggest disadvantage is that if you don't wear your aligners, your teeth won't get straight.

Dante A. Gonzales, DMD
Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics

Invisalign is a custom made series of clear trays (aligners) used to straighten the teeth and correct poor bites. The trays are made from a very accurate impression of your teeth. These impressions are scanned into a computer and then translated into a 3D image which can be manipulated with Align Technologies proprietary software. Your orthodontist will prescribe the movements of the teeth and how the teeth should look when you are finished. Once Align produces exactly what the orthodontist is prescribing then the trays will be made. Each tray is worn for 2-3 weeks. Each tray will move the teeth .2- .25 mm. The number of trays and length of treatment is determined by how much tooth movement is required. Treatment times can range from 3 months to 3 years. Moving the teeth, as with braces, will cause some temporary discomfort, but you won't have any pokey wires or loose brackets to deal with. Not everyone is a candidate for Invisalign, just as not everyone is a candidate for braces, so it’s important to see your local orthodontist to determine what type of orthodontic treatment is right for you.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
For those who don’t need drastic realignment, Invisalign is a great option -- it’s a series of transparent molded plastic forms that fit over your teeth and gradually move them into place (they need to be removed when you eat). It’s virtually invisible and no more expensive than traditional braces, and there are also teen versions available. It also takes about the same amount of time, and is covered by Medicaid in many states and most other health insurance that covers orthodontics.
YOU: The Owner's Manual for Teens: A Guide to a Healthy Body and Happy Life

More About this Book

YOU: The Owner's Manual for Teens: A Guide to a Healthy Body and Happy Life

A few years ago, we wrote YOU: The Owner’s Manual, which taught people about the inner workings of their bodies—and how to keep them running strong. But you know what? There’s a big difference...

Continue Learning about Orthodontics

What are the benefits of braces?
Katherine T. Vo, DDSKatherine T. Vo, DDS
In addition to the obvious cosmetic improvement of your teeth and smile, straighter teeth are easier...
More Answers
How do I know if invisaligns are right for me?
Jonathan B. Levine, DMDJonathan B. Levine, DMD
Invisaligns are right for you if: Your condition involves tipping or rotation of teeth. Think of...
More Answers
Can I wear braces if I'm pregnant?
Because women who are pregnant may experience sensitive teeth and gums, braces may add to this disco...
More Answers
Why do some people have crooked teeth and misaligned bites?
American Dental AssociationAmerican Dental Association
Bad bite, or malocclusion, is when teeth that are crowded or crooked. In some cases your teeth may b...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.