Invisalign Aligners 101: Everything You Need To Know

24 May 2023

Hand holds invisalign-aligners

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign is a clear aligner system which is used to straighten moderately crowded teeth. The aligners are virtually invisible and can be removed if necessary. Treatment is usually completed in a shorter time frame than traditional braces. These three reasons make it the treatment of choice for many adult patients.

How Invisalign Works

In order for Invisalign to work and produce beautifully straight teeth, it is necessary to create space. This is achieved by removing slices of enamel from between the teeth which is called interproximal reduction (I.P.R). Further space is obtained by expanding the dental arches using the clear aligners. Attachments are placed on the teeth which contact the aligners and move the teeth into the pre-planned positions. 

Invisalign Treatment Process

The Invisalign process starts with an intra-oral scan, extraoral and intraoral photographs and a prescription notated by the clinician outlining  the patient’s concerns and any other issues that are relevant to the case.

Using this information, artificial intelligence formulates a suitable treatment plan, known as a ClinCheck, which shows where the attachments need to be placed, the amount of expansion required, the amount of tooth tissue to be removed between the teeth and the number of aligners required.

This ClinCheck is modified by the orthodontic clinician and once it has been approved by the patient treatment can commence. The attachments are placed, the IPR is carried out and the patient is shown how to wear the aligners.

The aligners must be worn for at least 22 hours a day and it is preferable if the patient does not eat while wearing them and cleans the teeth thoroughly before replacing the aligners after meals. The aligners are changed every 1-2 weeks depending on the severity of the case and the compliance of the patient.

What Are Benefits Of Invisalign

The key advantages of Invisalign treatment are rooted in the virtually imperceptible nature of the aligners. This means that patients can go about their daily activities, including important events like presentations or weddings, without feeling self-conscious about their orthodontic treatment. While it is possible to remove the aligners temporarily for short periods of time during such occasions, it is important to note that this practice is not encouraged, as it may hinder the progress of the treatment.

Another significant benefit is that the majority of cases can be successfully completed within a span of just six months. This relatively short treatment duration appeals to many individuals seeking orthodontic correction, as it offers a faster alternative to traditional braces. By wearing the Invisalign aligners as instructed by their orthodontist, patients can achieve the desired results in a relatively short period of time.

Moreover, it is worth mentioning that Invisalign treatment typically avoids the need for tooth extractions. Unlike some other orthodontic approaches, Invisalign focuses on gently shifting the teeth into their desired positions using a series of custom-made aligners. This means that most patients can benefit from the convenience of Invisalign without having to undergo the extraction of their teeth.

Woman puts on invisalign aligners

The Drawbacks of Invisalign Aligners

Invisalign is generally not the preferred treatment for cases involving severe crowding or class three skeletal patterns, making it unsuitable for patients with poor discipline who frequently remove their aligners for extended periods. Consequently, traditional braces are more commonly used, particularly in children, as they offer more predictable results. It’s worth noting that Invisalign tends to be roughly twice as expensive as traditional braces.

Additionally, wearing clear aligners can potentially lead to complications such as gum disease and the formation of black triangles between teeth. These risks should be taken into account by patients considering Invisalign as their orthodontic treatment option.

How Much Does Invisalign Treatment Cost?

The cost of Invisalign typically ranges around £4000, although it may vary slightly based on the severity of the cases and the type of permanent/removable retention employed at the end of the treatment. Please note that this amount does not cover any tooth-whitening or composite bonding procedures that the patient may desire after the completion of the alignment process.

How Long Does Invisalign Treatment Take?

In most cases, the alignment process is typically completed within six months. However, the duration of the treatment can be significantly extended based on the patient’s decision to undergo tooth whitening and/or composite bonding, as well as their preference for fixed wires alongside the mandatory retainers (Essix retainers or Vivera retainers).

What to Expect During Invisalign Treatment

Invisalign is a relatively straightforward procedure for the patient once they become accustomed to the sensation of wearing the aligners. The initial appointment, which includes the placement of attachments and performing IPR, may cause some slight discomfort, but it is seldom referred to as painful. Patients become highly engaged in the treatment as it advances and typically, by the conclusion of the treatment, they take great pride in the well-being of their teeth and gums and are universally pleased with the outcomes.

How Invisalign Aligners Differ from Traditional Braces

Invisalign aligners differ from traditional braces in several ways. Firstly, traditional braces often necessitate extractions to create the necessary space. Conversely, Invisalign achieves this by employing interproximal reduction (IPR).

Moreover, traditional braces are fixed throughout the treatment period and typically involve wearing grey brackets, which some may find unattractive. In contrast, Invisalign offers a more discreet option as it employs clear aligners that are barely noticeable.

Treatment duration also varies between the two. With traditional braces, the treatment process often spans between 18 months to 2 years, whereas Invisalign predominantly completes treatment within a shorter time frame of approximately 6 months.

Maintaining Results After Treatment

To uphold the outcomes achieved through Invisalign, it is imperative to wear removable retainers every night for the entirety of one’s life. Furthermore, patients may opt for fixed wires on their front incisors to uphold the impeccable alignment. Undoubtedly, a superior standard of oral hygiene is anticipated, along with a wholesome diet. Regular visits to the dentist are strongly recommended.


Invisalign, when utilised by a proficient clinician alongside an intraoral scanner, and with an enthusiastic and compliant patient, stands as one of the most dependable and gratifying treatments that dentistry has ever provided. The outcomes are self-evident, as most patients express sheer delight and recognize that the financial expenditure is an investment in their long-term dental well-being.

You can also view our gallery of Before & After results right here:

Hand holds invisalign-aligners