How do Invisible Aligners Work?

Your Guide to Getting it Right


There are a lot of treatment options in the clear aligner category. From brands that take impressions the old-fashioned way, to treatments that all-digital platforms—Where do you begin? Better yet, which invisible aligner is the best option?

Use this guide to help you decide.


How do invisible aligners work?

While all aligners work to straighten teeth, that’s where the similarities end when you use SureSmile®.

Choosing to prescribe clear aligners with SoftSmile® puts the world’s most advanced & accurate digital treatment planning software in your hands. SureSmile® enhances your aligner proficiency with bold, digital advancements that provide total control and precision throughout all phases of the treatment continuum—especially in multi-appliance hybrid treatment cases.

SureSmile® software utilizes proprietary algorithms to gently and efficiently plan your American Board of Orthodontics (ABO) graded finish custom smile for your patients. This hallmark is a distinction beyond compare. SureSmile® clear aligners adhere to a higher standard beyond straight so you and your patients both receive maximum benefit.

Patients who are prescribed SureSmile® will be wearing a series of clear, state-of-the-art, removable aligners that straighten teeth out over weeks or months. Our aligners are made of elite Essix® Plastic and move teeth into place by applying the right amount of force at the right time to the right tooth—which is validated by an expert digital lab team. The end result is a truly unique smile achieved with profitability and workflow peace of mind for you.

If your treatment plan moves teeth too aggressively with too much movement, there’s a greater chance of patients experiencing discomfort or tightness beyond what’s typically expected. Conversely, if the movement isn’t enough you’ll find yourself making many refinements. The precision of SureSmile® software combined with the clinical expertise of the Digital Lab promotes better alignment, greater patient comfort & faster treatment times—so you can scan, plan, fabricate and treat with confidence.

Who is eligible for treatment with clear aligners?

SureSmile® is a great option for adults who are looking for a virtually invisible way to improve teeth that are crowded, crooked, have gaps, and are generally misaligned to name a few.

Can you use invisible aligners if a patient has veneers or crowns?

This is determined on a case by case basis.

No two treatment cases are ever the same. This is why with over 20 years of dedicated research in Orthodontics we are still continuing to advance SureSmile®. Our proprietary digital technology, custom plastic appliances and archwires, and exceptional digital lab technicians are equipped to help you find the best solution for even hybrid or unique treatment cases.

What kind of invisible aligner patient are you?

This is a serious question that you should take some time to ask your patients. Clear aligners are made with a lot of scientific advancements whose results can be compromised if your patients don’t follow the rules.

Here are two important rules that you’ll need to reinforce for optimal results:

  • Always take your aligners out to eat and drink, and brush your teeth thoroughly before putting your aligners back in.
  • Wear your invisible aligners for 20-22 hours a day for best results

Remind your patients that a portable toothbrush is about to become their best friend. You can even make this aspect of their treatment as fun as possible by customizing a dental bag, brush and floss.

What is the treatment process for clear aligners?

Getting the smile you deserve just might be easier than you think.

Step 1: It starts with a Scan
A trained SureSmile® doctor will examine your teeth.

Step 2: Design the best personalized treatment plan in the industry
Doctors who use SureSmile® use the gold standard in orthodontic treatment planning to deliver the most precise smiles in the industry.*

Start right from the start

  • SCAN: With SureSmile®, it begins with an incredibly accurate, anatomically precise 3D scan of your mouth and teeth.
  • PLAN: Your treatment plan is designed using the world’s most advanced & accurate digital treatment planning software for faster results. This software was developed by industry-leading experts and provides tooth-by-tooth movement like no other treatment planning program
  • PREVIEW: When a course of treatment has been mapped out and validated by digital expert clinicians and technicians you’re ready to share what the new smile will look like.

Not all 3D Digital scanners and treatment planning software are the same. The precision of SureSmile® software combined with the clinical expertise of the Digital Lab promotes better alignment, greater patient comfort & faster treatment times.

Step 3: Aligners are fabricated in our world-class SureSmile® Digital Lab
SureSmile® clear aligners are made using world renowned Essix® plastic known for superior performance at straightening teeth with an aesthetic appearance.

Step 4: Treatment Time
Because cases range from simple teeth straightening to the more complex, there is no way to say how long it will take to achieve the best smile. Some people are in invisible aligners for 10 weeks while others wear them for 36 months. It all just depends. Either way, SureSmile® results will make you smile.

Remind your patients to always take their aligners out while eating.

We can’t stress this enough: You can eat all your favorite foods as long as you take your aligners out.

Water is the only thing you can have and leave your aligners in. If the liquid is clear and flavored, hot or colored in any way, the strength and clarity of the aligners can become compromised.

What are the advantages over traditional braces?

For many, especially adults, the advantages are more than clear as to why they prefer clear aligners over traditional braces.

In some circumstances, when you compare the cost of braces to clear aligners, it comes out to be almost the same. Of course, each and every case is different, but the quotes are well within the same range time and again.

Additionally, braces do not offer form as well as lifestyle function. Perhaps the biggest drawback of having braces isn’t that you can see them, but what you can’t eat. Those who have traditional metal or ceramic braces must not eat foods that are overly chewy, crunchy, hard or sticky so as to avoid popping the wire off of the bracket. There are even foods that can pop a bracket clear off of a tooth, too. Food restrictions are a major deterrent for traditional braces. With invisible aligners? There are no food restrictions. You simply take the clear aligners out to eat and them put them back in (after brushing of course!) when you are finished.

Clear aligners offer the following advantages over traditional braces:

  • Aligners are nearly invisible
  • Aligners are easily removed
  • Aligners are free of uncomfortable wires that can scratch or pinch your mouth
  • Aligners don't require you to avoid specific foods, and since you can take them out to eat you don't get stuck with lingering food particles or tastes.
  • SureSmile offers all these benefits while providing the same fast adjustment time that braces can guarantee. When it comes to achieving a straight healthy smile, the clear winner is SureSmile® clear aligners.

    Are clear braces another name for invisible aligners?

    No, clear braces are actually another name for ceramic braces. Clear and ceramic braces have a bracket that mounts to the tooth and is similar in color to a tooth. The wire that traditional braces uses is also visible on clear braces.

    To be clear, invisible aligners fit snuggly and tightly over your teeth and are made of clear, firm but flexible plastic. SureSmile® clear aligners are made using an elite plastic from world renowned Essix® plastic—which is known for superior performance at straightening teeth.

    What are the possible initial side effects of treatment with clear aligners?

    When initially wearing clear aligners, patients may experience some or none of the following:

    • Initially, your speech may be affected for a couple of days and it may sound like you have a lisp.
    • As invisible aligners gradually straighten your teeth, it is common to feel like your teeth are loose.
    • Yes, smoking, coffee, wine, and any other food and beverages can potentially damage the color of your clear aligners.
    • You can not chew gum with your aligners in. It is recommended that you take them out completely for all meals and snacks.

    Performance meets accuracy

    The SureSmile® legacy of treatment

    We may not have invented clear aligners, but we sure know how to perfect them. The precision of SureSmile® software combined with the clinical expertise of the Digital Lab promotes better alignment, greater patient comfort & faster treatment times. We’re proud to offer a higher standard of planning and fabrication options that are easy to adapt to grow your practice.

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    Better Experience Though Innovation

    There’s never been a better time to grow your practice and join the millions of people who have embraced clear aligners.

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