What are clear aligners?

Clear aligners are virtually invisible ways to straighten your teeth and achieve the smile you’ve always dreamed of. Clear aligners depict your complete treatment plan, from the initial position of your teeth to the final desired position. Then a series of clear aligners are custom-made for your teeth – and your teeth only – to move them little by little. Each aligner is worn for about two weeks before being replaced by the next in the series, until the final position of your teeth is achieved. Your treatment time will be determined by your doctor, based on your specific needs.

What are the primary benefits of clear aligners?

Clear aligners are practically clear. No one may even notice that you’re wearing these virtually invisible “braces,” making clear aligners a seamless fit with your lifestyle and day-to-day interactions with others.

Clear aligners are removable. Unlike braces, you have the flexibility to eat and drink what you want during treatment by simply removing the aligners. And you can also remove the aligners to brush and floss as you normally would for fresh breath and good oral hygiene.

Unlike braces, there are no metal brackets or wires with clear aligners that could cause irritation to your mouth. Plus since your office visits during treatment don’t involve metal or wire adjustments, you’ll likely spend less time in the doctor’s chair.

And finally, clear aligners allow you to view your virtual results and treatment plan before you start so you can see how your straight teeth will look when your treatment is complete.

How many patients are being treated with clear aligners?

More than 1,000,000 patients worldwide have been treated with clear aligners. The number of clear-aligner smiles grows daily.

How will clear aligners effectively move my teeth?

Like brackets and arch wires are to braces, clear aligners move teeth through the appropriate placement of controlled force on your teeth. The main difference is that clear aligners not only controls forces but also the timing of the force application. During each stage, only certain teeth are allowed to move. These movements are determined by your doctor as he or she maps out your unique clear aligners treatment plan.

What are aligners made of, and what do they look like?

The virtually invisible aligners, which are made of a thermoplastic material, look similar to tooth-whitening trays. Clear aligners are custom-made for you and only you to move your teeth in the sequence determined by your doctor.

Do clear aligners contain Bisphenol-A (BPA)?

No. Clear aligners and Vivera Retainers do not contain Bisphenol-A or phthalate plasticizers. These aligners and retainers are made with USP Class VI medical grade, high molecular weight, polyurethane resins. Tests have been conducted to determine the biocompatibility of these materials, and show that they are biocompatible and pass all applicable regulatory requirements and thresholds for human wear in the mouth. Of course, as with any medical device, you should consult with your health professional about your aligner or retainer treatment and any applicable risks of use.

Since having my braces removed, my teeth have shifted. Can clear aligners correct this?

A number of patients have undergone a previous treatment involving braces at some point in their past, often during their youth. Clear aligners can usually correct the shifting that occurs after braces, and do so without having to go through the trauma and social awkwardness of wearing metal braces.

I am currently wearing braces. Can I make the switch to clear aligners?

Doctors are treating a significant number of patients with a combination of braces and clear aligners. Consult your doctor to determine the best treatment for you.

Will wearing clear aligners affect my speech?

Similar to other orthodontic treatments, clear aligners may temporarily affect the speech of some people, and you may have a slight lisp for a day or two. However, as your tongue gets used to having aligners in your mouth, any lisp caused by the aligners should disappear.

Are there restrictions on what I can eat while in treatment?

No. Thanks to the removable nature of the aligners, you can eat and drink whatever you want while in treatment. In fact, you’re required to remove your aligners to eat and drink. So, unlike undergoing traditional treatment using wires and brackets, there is no need to restrict your consumption of any of your favorite foods and snacks unless instructed otherwise by your doctor. Also, it is important that you brush your teeth after each meal and prior to re-inserting your aligners to maintain fresh breath and proper hygiene.

Will smoking stain the aligners?

We discourage smoking while wearing aligners because it is possible for the aligners to become discolored.

Can I chew gum while wearing aligners?

No, gum will stick to the aligners. We recommend removing your aligners for all meals and snacks.

Will clear-aligner treatment be painful?

While clear aligners move your teeth without the pain and anxiety of metal braces, some people will experience temporary discomfort for a few days at the beginning of each new stage of treatment. This is normal and is typically described as a feeling of pressure. It’s also a sign that clear aligners are working, as it moves your teeth to their final destination. This discomfort typically goes away in a couple of days.

What's the best way to clean my aligners?

Your aligners can be cleaned by brushing them and rinsing them in lukewarm water.

How often must I wear my aligners?

We find aligners are most effective if worn 20 to 22 hours per day – and removed only for eating, brushing, and flossing.

How often must I see the doctor about my clear aligners?

Your doctor will schedule regular appointments – usually about once every four to six weeks. The goal of these visits is to ensure that your treatment is progressing as planned.

How long will treatment take?

The length of treatment depends on the severity of your case and can only be determined by your doctor; however, the average case takes about 12 months.*

What happens after treatment to prevent my teeth from moving again?

This varies from person to person and depends on the outcome of the treatment. Some patients might need a positioner or conventional retainer.

How much do clear aligners cost?

We know cost is a big question for anyone considering dental or orthodontic work. The truth is, only your doctor can determine the cost of your specific treatment. It really depends on the kind of treatment you need, how extensive the issues are that you want to correct, how long your treatment plan will last, where you live, and many other factors we will discuss with you.

Will my insurance cover clear aligners?

Because medical benefits differ significantly from policy to policy, you should review your personal coverage plan. However, in general, if a patient has orthodontic coverage, clear aligners should be covered to the same extent as conventional braces.