How Does Invisalign Work?

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign is a brand of clear, plastic aligners that fit over the teeth like retainers to straighten them out over a specified treatment time.

Aligners Crash Course

Clearing Things Up About At-Home Aligners

Are you interested in straightening your teeth, but don’t know where to start? Become confident in at-home aligner therapy with our crash course.

The clear aligners are made of a flexible plastic — specifically, a patented thermoplastic material called SmartTrack® that was created exclusively for Invisalign treatment.

Invisalign aligners are also FDA-approved and contain no BPA, BPS, latex, or gluten.

An alternative treatment plan from traditional braces, Invisalign aligners are custom-made to wear for a few weeks or months at a time.

As the teeth move, your dental care professional will make you new aligners to keep them gradually moving into the desired position. It’s a process without all the restrictions that come with metal braces.

Clear Aligners

Because Invisalign shifts all of your teeth together instead of each individual tooth, it tends to give you a straighter smile faster than traditional metal braces.

What Dental Problems Can Invisalign Fix?

Invisalign can treat the following conditions:

  • Overbite
  • Underbite
  • Crossbite
  • Gap teeth
  • Open bite
  • Crowded teeth
  • Misaligned baby and permanent teeth

What Dental Problems Can Invisalign Not Fix?

There are some cases in which Invisalign is not a good treatment option, including:

  • Patients with complex malocclusions, especially those that require extractions. In these cases, the results are less accurate than those achieved with traditional metal braces.
  • Patients with tooth decay or gum disease. Braces and aligners like Invisalign can make oral hygiene difficult, and if patients have to have a cavity filled mid-treatment, it could impact the fit of the clear aligners and affect their results.
  • Patients with temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD). Invisalign is linked to TMJ problems. In some instances, wearing Invisalign can either exacerbate jaw pain or cause a patient to develop a problem with their TMJ.

How Does Invisalign Work (Step-By-Step)?

Perhaps the best-known orthodontics brand for clear aligners, Invisalign is a quicker way to give you a straight smile.

You'll wear the aligners every day and night except while you’re eating or drinking. They are removable so you can easily clean your teeth with a toothbrush and floss.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Treatment begins with a consultation with an Invisalign-trained dental professional. During this time, the dentist will evaluate your smile and map out a customized digital treatment plan that delineates your smile’s step-by-step transformation.
  2. Your dentist will take a digital scan of your teeth and x-rays of your jaw.
  3. Your dentist will make a mold of your teeth to custom-create the clear plastic Invisalign trays.
  4. Your dentist may use special tooth-colored attachments or buttons to help move your teeth as an adjunct to your aligners.
  5. You’ll wear the aligners every day and night during your treatment plan (typically for approximately six to 18 months). Note that it may take a few days to get used to having your Invisalign aligners in your mouth. You may experience a slight lisp until your tongue adjusts to the trays. You will also likely experience some pressure, which means that the aligners are working.
  6. Your dentist may call you in for checkups to make sure that the aligners fit comfortably.
  7. You will visit the dentist every week or two (or as directed by your dentist) to have a new set made as your teeth shift.
  8. At the end of your treatment, you may require additional aligners, or a refinement, to help create an ideal occlusion and smile. 
  9. Your dentist may recommend that you wear a retainer to prevent your teeth from shifting back after your treatment is over. 

It’s important to follow your orthodontist or dental professional’s instructions on how long to wear clear aligners each day. Typically clear aligners are worn for 20 to 22 hours a day, but this will vary depending on each case.

Consult your doctor if you are experiencing extreme discomfort.

You have to get new aligner trays every one to two weeks as your teeth shift, which means that Invisalign starts working the second you put the aligners in your mouth.

How Long Does it Take for Invisalign to Work? 

Invisalign’s benefits typically show in just a few weeks to months, but the timeline varies on a case-by-case basis.

The end result could take over a year for some serious cases of misalignment, while some people may see completely straight teeth in half a year, for example.

How Effective is Invisalign Treatment? 

Invisalign is a highly effective treatment and an ideal solution for both adults and teenagers who want an almost invisible method of improving their smiles. In fact, over nine million people — including more than 1.4 million teens — have used Invisalign before.

Thanks to Invisalign’s innovations and technology, the brand of aligners can fit almost all teeth and fix almost all alignment and bite issues without majorly interrupting your life. For best results, you should wear your Invisalign trays for 20 to 22 hours every day for your designated treatment time.

However, these aligners are not necessarily as effective of a treatment option as braces for you if you have a really bad overbite, crossbite, or underbite; extremely gapped teeth; very crowded teeth; severely crooked teeth; or other significant misalignments.

While Invisalign treatment may do the trick, braces or other options that more forcefully shift the teeth might work best. Some patients may benefit from a temporary treatment with traditional braces and then transition into Invisalign aligners. 

Pros and Cons of Invisalign

To determine if Invisalign is right for you, review the pros and cons here:

Pros of Invisalign

Pros include:

  • Improved aesthetics. Invisalign aligners are much less noticeable than braces and other aligner brands.
  • Removable. You can remove them for eating and drinking.
  • Easy to clean your mouth. Since aligners are removable, brushing and flossing are not disrupted.
  • Less risk for emergency dental visits. Aligners do not have brackets and wires, and therefore can't fall off.

Cons of Invisalign

Cons include:

  • Cannot correct complex misalignment cases. The results may be less accurate than those achieved with traditional metal braces.
  • You have to remember to keep the aligners in. You're required to wear Invisalign aligners for 20 to 22 hours a day.
  • Food limitations. Hard foods should be avoided.

How Much Do Invisalign Aligners Cost?

The cost of Invisalign treatment averages about $5,000, which is about the cost of braces, but this number depends on the complexity of your case and the length of your orthodontic treatment. Invisalign’s cost may be covered or partially covered by your dental insurance. Most dental insurance plans cover Invisalign the same way they cover braces.

There are also other options to make Invisalign treatment more affordable for you, from using FSA or HSA tax-free dollars to a monthly payment plan to lighten the financial burden. For example, your dentist may offer financing through CareCredit, a third-party patient financing program.


Azaripour, A et al., Braces versus Invisalign®: gingival parameters and patients' satisfaction during treatment: a cross-sectional study., BMC oral health vol. 15 69. 24 Jun. 2015, 

Frequently asked questions, Invisalign, 

How much does Invisalign Treatment cost?, Invisalign, 

Ke, Yunyan et al., A comparison of treatment effectiveness between clear aligner and fixed appliance therapies., BMC oral health vol. 19,1 24. 23 Jan. 2019, 

The Invisalign Difference, Invisalign, 

Treatable cases, Invisalign, 

newmouth logo
menu linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram