How Do Aligners Work? The Ultimate Guide 2023

Written by Dr. Tanvee Date | Medically Reviewed by Dr Shaista Salam, BDS; Zein El Hammouz, DDS, MFD/RCSI.

Fact Checked →

Table of Contents

  1. How do invisible aligners work?
  2. How long do aligners take to work?
  3. The stages of clear aligners
  4. Clear aligners: myths and facts
  5. Am I a candidate for clear aligners?

Do you want your crooked teeth straightened, but don’t want to go through the hassle of traditional braces? Are you in search of something invisible, that wouldn’t be noticed when you smile? If yes, then you are in the right place. This blog will tell you everything you need to know about how do aligners work.

What are Clear Aligners?

Clear aligners are nearly invisible, tray-like dental appliances used to straighten crooked teeth. They use gentle, consistent pressure to move your teeth to a suitable position. The good news? Unlike traditional braces, clear aligners don’t require metal wires and brackets to work.

How do aligners work?

They are comfortable, nearly invisible, and gentle on your teeth. But, how do aligners work?

Throughout the treatment, a number of aligner trays are required to achieve the desired position of the teeth. A set of aligners is manufactured with the help of 3D  scans of your teeth and jaws. Each aligner tray applies gentle pressure on your teeth. As a result, physical positions of your teeth change and improve.  After each smaller movement is achieved by an aligner, you will move on to the next aligner tray, which will bring further movements. This continues till your teeth are straightened, and your smile is improved. (1)

Do Clear Aligners work as well as Braces?

Clear aligners are as effective as metal braces; only with a much better appearance and a higher level of comfort, oral hygiene (2)

  • Nearly Invisible -For patients who are concerned about their aesthetic appearance, clear aligners prove to be the best option. They are polymer-made, and nearly invisible, enabling you to wear them without anyone noticing.


Hands holding invisible aligners and its case with a sky blue background
  • Comfortable - Compared to traditional braces, clear aligners are more comfortable and gentle on your gums and other soft tissues. (2)
  • Fewer visits to the dental clinic -Traditional braces require you to visit the dentist every month for fittings, changing wires or if your bracket is broken. But, with clear aligners, you need fewer appointments as aligners are custom-made for you. If your case is not a complex one, your doctor will hand over the multiple  set of aligners to you and you can wear them on your own, making sure you remove them while eating, brushing, or flossing.

For effective results, you need to wear them for at least 22 hours a day. (1) Throughout the treatment duration, your doctor will conduct regular appointments to monitor progress, even in mild cases. Thus, treatment with clear aligners is more convenient with fewer, shorter dental visits.

Can clear aligners cause teeth damage?

If worn while eating, aligners can become a home to a lot of bacteria and sugars. If aligners are not cleaned from time to time, this build-up of bacteria can easily decay the teeth. (3) Consumption of flavored drinks, soda, and fruit juices can cause discoloration of the aligners and the teeth as well.  Hence, the best practice is to avoid having any foodstuff while you are wearing your aligners. To avoid any bacterial build-up on your teeth, always floss and/or brush your teeth before wearing your aligners.

Aligners kept carelessly in unhygienic surroundings can easily harbor harmful bacteria, which can be ingested into your body when you wear them.(3) Hence, it is important to clean your aligners regularly and keep them a clean aligner case with vent holes to keep it dry.


Picture with a white background showing full sets of invisible aligners from Eon Aligner

You can soak your aligners in a denture cleaner once daily. Or you can clean the insides of the aligner tray with a soft brush and toothpaste (3)

How long do clear aligners take to work?

The average time needed to complete the treatment with Eon Aligner is 8-10 months. (8) The exact duration depends on the complexity of the case.

To know how long clear aligners take to work, consult your doctor.

The stages of clear aligners

Now that we know what clear aligners actually are, let's know more about the process to get your aligner treatment started, shall we?

Introduce your dentist to your teeth

At your first visit, your dentist will examine your oral cavity for any abnormalities, decayed teeth, infections, etc. He will also examine the bite of your teeth on both sides. This gives him an idea of the severity of malalignment and helps to decide the duration, course, and the cost of the treatment.


Male patient attending dentist to get orthodontic treatment and solve his teeth problems with invisible aligners from Eon Aligner

Get your oral cavity scanned

In this step, the doctor will take a 3D scan/ impressions of your teeth with a bite registry to understand the relationship between your upper and lower teeth.

Planning your aligner treatment

After your consultation and 3D scan are done, Eon Aligner’s clinical team along with your doctor will create a customized treatment plan for you. The duration and course of treatment are determined by keeping in mind your convenience and priorities.  

Considering all the aspects, a preview of your corrected smile is created digitally, even before the treatment starts. This preview helps you to predict how your smile would look once the treatment is completed.

Dentist in his office examinating patient's teeth to explain his clear aligner therapy

Customized aligners

Once you are completely satisfied with the preview, your teeth impressions are sent to the lab and your customized aligner trays are made. Depending on your case, your doctor will recommend going through additional steps like adding attachments or IPR (Interproximal Reduction) to ensure the treatment is effective. (1)

A new aligner tray- a step closer to well-aligned teeth

Each aligner is to be worn for at least 1 week and 22 hours a day, to achieve maximum results. After every 1 to 2 weeks, depending on the case, a new aligner tray is to be worn which is different from the previous one.(1) Each aligner tray moves the teeth in the desired direction discreetly.

Tweaking aligners to your needs

Your dentist will give you the necessary instructions regarding the maintenance, care, and hygiene of your aligners. Throughout the treatment, you will visit the dental clinic a few times, to evaluate your treatment progress and make any adjustments if required.

Final results

Once your teeth have achieved their desired position, your dentist will give you your invisible retainer. Wearing a retainer after the completion of your treatment is very important as it prevents your teeth from moving back into their original positions and reduces the chances of a relapse.

Myths and facts

Clear aligners are less effective as compared to traditional metal braces.

Today, with more advanced technology, clear aligners can be equally effective in achieving the straightening of teeth for even complex cases. (4)

Clear aligners treatment takes more time than traditional braces.

Clear aligners usually take 8-10 months for the completion of the treatment. To know more about how do aligners work and how long aligners take to work, consult your dentist. (5)

Clear aligners cause a lisp while talking.

For the first 2-3 days, Clear aligners may cause discomfort while talking. This is because you are not used to wearing them. But once, you get used to it, the lisp will disappear gradually.

It is difficult to maintain oral hygiene with clear aligners

Clear aligners are removable. Hence there is no restriction to your diet, as far as you are eating after removing your aligners. You should thoroughly clean your teeth and the aligners before wearing them again. (6)

Smash the hurdles you faced before, with invisible teeth straightening

  • The solution to speech problems - Malaligned teeth can cause speech impairment in many patients. The clear aligner treatment helps in alleviating the obstructions, and thus improves the speech. (7)
  • A surge in overall confidence - Individuals with crooked teeth often find it difficult to be comfortable with their smile and appearance. But, after the clear aligner treatment, the improved appearance gives a confidence boost to them.


Brunette woman similing and lying on the grass while wearing invisible aligners
  • Improved function - Clear aligner treatment brings the teeth to their ideal position, improving their chewing abilities. (1) (2)
  • Reduced risk of tooth decay - Malaligned teeth create abnormal gaps and spaces in between the teeth, creating more room for food lodgement. (9) This increases the chances of tooth decay. By using clear aligners to straighten teeth, these gaps are closed, which reduces the chances of tooth decay.

How to know for sure clear aligners are for you?

To be sure if clear aligners are the ultimate treatment for you or not, it is advisable to consult your orthodontist. Nonetheless, you are a good candidate for clear aligners if:

  1. You had undergone traditional orthodontic treatment as a teenager, but now your teeth have moved again in their previous position, resulting in the crooked alignment.
  2. You have protruding teeth, resulting in an inability to close your lips, or you have a crossbite, open bite, deep bite, or increased overjet. (9)
  3. Your teeth are too crowded or have gaps in between the teeth. (9)



Related Articles