Clear Aligners Treatment: How Long Do Aligners Take To Work?

Written by Dr. Febin Mary George, BDS | Medically Reviewed by Dr. Zein El Hammouz, DDS, MFD/RCSI.

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Table of Content

  1. How do invisible aligners work?
  2. Getting clear aligner treatment
  3. Factors affecting treatment time
  4. Tips on getting the best results
  5. Best alternative for traditional braces

Clear aligners are becoming increasingly popular nowadays. The reason why people prefer clear aligners over traditional braces is that they can correct your misaligned teeth in a nearly invisible manner. In short, it is almost impossible to make out the ‘work-in-progress’ status of your smile! You might be wondering how long do aligners take to work and what the clear aligners duration is. This article will help you understand clear aligners better.

How do invisible aligners work? 

Invisible aligners are a series of plastic trays that are customized to fit your teeth and realign them over a period of time. So, how do aligners work? They work on the principle of bringing about tooth movements in small increments. In most cases, you may need to switch to a new set of clear aligners after every one or two weeks.

These aligners have to be worn for at least 22 hours daily and should be removed before you have food or before brushing your teeth. (1) If you wish to see the desired outcome, you need to wear clear aligners as advised by your dentist.

Clear aligners treatment 

For your clear aligners to be customised for you, there are a number of procedures that you need to undergo. Let us walk you through each one of them-

  • 3D scan: In this step, a three-dimensional computerised model is created that helps in planning your customized invisible aligners. Your orthodontist tries to figure out how your teeth are supposed to move and by when should they reach their new positions. Every time you proceed to the next step, you can expect a minimum of 0.33 to 0.5mm of tooth movement as the rate of movement depends on the type of movement performed. (2,3)
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Woman at a dentist consultancy to get advice for teeth straightening and treatment options with invisible aligners

 

  • Deciding whether clear aligners are right for you or not: As every smile is different, so is the complexity of every case. Your dentist is the right person to tell you whether you are a suitable candidate for clear aligners or not. After going through your 3D scan your orthodontist will inform you whether clear aligners will work for you or not.
  • Clear aligners fabrication: If all the steps fall in place, your orthodontist will send your 3D models to the laboratory for the fabrication of your individualized invisible aligners.

Factors affecting orthodontic treatment time

The treatment time with clear aligners may be 6 months for some and may turn out to be 18 months for others. On an average, it takes around 8 to 10 months and it depends on the following factors: (4,5)

  • Complexity of the issues 

Some orthodontic problems can be corrected within a short span of 6 months such as: minor gaps between the teeth or mild crowding. However, some individuals have a combination of orthodontic issues like severe crowding combined with proclined upper front teeth, which may increase the treatment duration.

  • Age 

It has been observed that clear aligners give faster results in teens as the teeth tend to move faster in young age.(12) While clear aligner therapy is equally effective in adults, they can expect a slightly longer treatment duration.(14)

  • Oral Hygiene Practices

Your gums and teeth should be clean and healthy to ensure that you finish your treatment within the right time. Improper oral hygiene can lead to gum inflammation and slow down the teeth movement.(6)

  • Orthodontist’s Treatment Plan

For optimal results through clear aligners, it is essential to consult an experienced and skilled orthodontist. A good orthodontist would be able to diagnose your case correctly and create a customized treatment plan for you. 

  • Compliance

Your orthodontist will give you instructions on how to wear your aligners and will explain how long do aligners take to work. You should commit to wearing them as advised to ensure the successful completion of your treatment. Inconsistency in wearing teeth aligners can result in your treatment taking far longer than estimated by your doctor. 

Tips on getting the best results out of clear aligners

Here are a few simple yet effective tips that can help you get the best results out of clear aligners-

  • Stick to the schedule

Your orthodontist will provide a schedule that indicates when you should wear your aligners and when you shift to the next step. It is important to follow the schedule if you wish to see the difference in your smile.

  • Wear them as prescribed

Your orthodontist will ask you to wear your aligners for a minimum of 22 hours a day. The success of your treatment relies completely on the number of hours your aligners are in contact with your teeth. Therefore, wear them as advised by your doctor.

  • Be patient and consistent

Feeling tenderness in your jaws is absolutely normal for the first few days. Do not discontinue wearing your aligners just because it hurts. The discomfort will subside on its own when your teeth start moving to its new position. 

  • Maintain good oral hygiene 

A healthy, clean mouth with good gum health ensures your treatment progresses well and is completed within the expected duration.  Hence, brush your teeth regularly before you put your aligners back in and floss once or twice a day.

  • Never forget to wear your retainers

The phase of retention is quite significant as it helps to hold the teeth in their new positions even after finishing your clear aligner treatment.(7) Make sure to wear your retainers as suggested by your doctor.

Clear Aligners: before and after

Clear aligners can do a lot more than just changing the way your teeth are placed in your mouth. They straighten teeth to give you a beautiful smile. Improved esthetics boost your self-confidence automatically as you need not shy away while smiling. As teeth aligners can fix your bad-bites, you would be able to chew food in the right way. The most important benefit of clear aligners is that you look good even during your treatment. You need not worry about having a metallic smile as the one that you have with braces. 

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Case study that shows the before and after process of gap teeth treatment with clear aligners from Eon Aligner

 

Eon Aligner: an effective alternative for traditional braces

When you choose Eon Aligner among the several types of orthodontic aligners available today, you can rest assured as you will be provided effective orthodontic treatment. Our certified and trained Eon Aligner doctors will first examine your teeth thoroughly and then prepare a unique treatment plan to address your orthodontic issues if any.

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Brunette woman smiling and receiving a set of clear aligners from Eon Aliger

 

Fabricated with a high-strength material, Eon Aligner provides the right intensity of active force at a competitive price. One of the best features of Eon Aligner is its fast delivery time. Within 3 to 5 days of your treatment plan approval, you will receive your aligners. 

And what's more; With Eon Aligner, you get free retainers at the end of your treatment plan!

Submit this form to find the nearest Eon-certified doctor near you and begin your journey to a perfect smile.  

 

FAQS

How can I reduce my orthodontic treatment time?

Well, consistency is the key. Wear your aligners as suggested by your doctor. Keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy. Shift to the next step after a week or two as directed by your orthodontist. Visit your doctor for routine follow-up.(13)

What causes orthodontic problems?

Orthodontic problems are hereditary in most of the individuals.(8) You may have crowding, gaps between your teeth or an extra/missing tooth. All these issues can cause misaligned teeth. As they are genetic, they can rarely be prevented. Premature loss of milk teeth is one major reason for orthodontic problems.(12) Practicing good oral hygiene, right from childhood, can protect the milk teeth from decay, thereby preventing premature tooth loss. Another cause of orthodontic problems could be habits like abnormal tongue positioning, mouthbreathing, nail-biting, or thumb-sucking.(9,10, 11) These are preventable types of bad-bites. Orthodontic problems should be diagnosed at the earliest so that they can be treated at the right time.

How long do you have to wear the aligners each day?

You need to wear your aligners for 22 hours a day and remove them only for having food or brushing your teeth.

What happens if you don’t wear clear aligners for 22 hours a day? 

One of the biggest problems of not wearing teeth aligners for 22 hours a day is delayed treatment completion and not achieving the desired results.

How quickly do teeth move with clear aligners? 

It purely depends on the complexity of your case. On an average, it may take up to four to six weeks for the tooth movement to be evident.

Which is faster: braces or aligners?

Case selection plays an important role in determining how fast the treatment time would be. That being said, it has often been seen that aligners are faster than braces. 

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1. Marya, A., Venugopal, A., Vaid, N., Alam, M.K. and Karobari, M.I. (2020). Essential Attributes of Clear Aligner Therapy in terms of Appliance Configuration, Hygiene, and Pain Levels during the Pandemic: A Brief Review. Pain Research and Management, [online] 2020, pp.1–6. doi:10.1155/2020/6677929.

2.Lee, S.Y., Kim, H., Kim, H.-J., Chung, C.J., Choi, Y.J., Kim, S.-J. and Cha, J.-Y. (2022). Thermo-mechanical properties of 3D printed photocurable shape memory resin for clear aligners. Scientific Reports, 12(1). doi:10.1038/s41598-022-09831-4.

3.Drake, C.T., McGorray, S.P., Dolce, C., Nair, M. and Wheeler, T.T. (2012). Orthodontic Tooth Movement with Clear Aligners. ISRN Dentistry, 2012, pp.1–7. doi:10.5402/2012/657973.

4.Tamer, İ., Öztaş, E. and Marşan, G. (2019). Orthodontic Treatment with Clear Aligners and The Scientific Reality Behind Their Marketing: A Literature Review. Turkish Journal of Orthodontics, [online] 32(4), pp.241–246. doi:10.5152/TurkJOrthod.2019.18083.

5.What you should know about Invisalign® treatment An Expert’s Guide to Clear Aligner Treatment. (n.d.). [online] Available at: https://orthodonticsaustralia.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/eBook-G… [Accessed 22 Jun. 2022].

6.Li, Y., Jacox, L.A., Little, S.H. and Ko, C.-C. (2018). Orthodontic tooth movement: The biology and clinical implications. The Kaohsiung Journal of Medical Sciences, [online] 34(4), pp.207–214. doi:10.1016/j.kjms.2018.01.007.

7.Littlewood, S.J., Millett, D.T., Doubleday, B., Bearn, D.R. and Worthington, H.V. (2016). Retention procedures for stabilising tooth position after treatment with orthodontic braces. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd002283.pub4.

8.Hartsfield, J.K., Jacob, G.J. and Morford, L.A. (2017). Heredity, genetics and orthodontics: How much has this research really helped? Seminars in Orthodontics, 23(4), pp.336–347. doi:10.1053/j.sodo.2017.07.003.

9.Grippaudo, C., Paolantonio, E., Antonini, G., Saulle, R., La Torre, G. and Deli, R. (2016). Association between oral habits, mouth breathing and malocclusion Associazione fra abitudini viziate, respirazione orale e malocclusione. ACTA OTORHINOLARYNGOLOGICA ITALICA, [online] 36, pp.386–394. doi:10.14639/0392-100X-770.

10.Ghanizadeh, A. (2011). Nail biting; etiology, consequences and management. Iranian journal of medical sciences, [online] 36(2), pp.73–9. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3556753/#B34 [Accessed 22 Jun. 2022].

11.Larsson, E. (1987). The effect of finger-sucking on the occlusion: a review. European Journal of Orthodontics, [online] 9(1), pp.279–282. doi:10.1093/ejo/9.1.279.

12.Spodzieja, K. and Olczak-Kowalczyk, D. (2022). Premature Loss of Deciduous Teeth as a Symptom of Systemic Disease: A Narrative Literature Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, [online] 19(6), p.3386. doi:10.3390/ijerph19063386.

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