Patient’s Guide: How Do Clear Aligners Work for Your Unique Smile Goals?

how do clear aligners work

Have you ever wondered how do clear aligners work? They look so discreet, almost invisible, yet they have astonishing teeth straightening ability, which is comparable to that of traditional braces (with the additional perk of invisibility!).

This ability of clear aligners to look so discreet and yet have such effective results stirs up curiosity among patients as to how they work. Educating yourself about their working mechanism will help you get insight into what makes them effective, while also helping you understand how they can work for your unique smile goals.

In this blog, we’ll explore the fundamentals of clear aligners, investigating how they work.

What Are Clear Aligners?

Have you ever come across someone who got their teeth aligned to perfection, but you never noticed them wearing a teeth straightening device? Well, they sure had one on, but it was barely noticeable. It’s called clear aligners, also referred to as Invisalign (a contraction of invisible aligners).

They came as a breakthrough in cosmetic dentistry, offering people a discreet, convenient and comfortable way of aligning their teeth – something that traditional metal braces lacked. As opposed to traditional metal braces, clear aligners are removable and are composed of transparent BPA-free plastic (which is almost invisible in appearance), custom-made according to the patient’s unique dental anatomy. They are the integral component of a comprehensive treatment plan where a series of such aligners are used to bring the teeth to the desired position.

Who Are Clear Aligners For?

Clear aligners are a great alternative for people looking for the same dental corrective efficiency as traditional metal braces but without the associated visibility and discomfort (of metal wires and brackets poking into their cheeks and gums). 

In fact, clear aligners offer more predictable and faster treatment results as compared to their traditional counterparts, with increased convenience and absolute transparency. This is because of the incorporation of advanced technology like 3D imaging in the treatment, which provides a more predictable outcome in terms of speed, quality and durability. 

A study highlights significant tooth shifting in the first 3 months of clear aligners treatment, and claims the results given by clear aligners to be six months faster than those yielded by traditional metal braces. What’s more, clear aligners show a high degree of customer satisfaction, which makes them a viable alternative to metal braces not only in theory but also in practice.

Also, these aligners are detachable, meaning you can take them off while eating, drinking, brushing and flossing. This is perfectly suitable for people who are extra conscious about their oral hygiene and don’t like the permanency of traditional braces. 

Just like traditional metal braces, clear aligners can be used for the correction of the following dental malocclusions (bite issues/teeth misalignment): 

  • teeth crowding
  • teeth spacing
  • teeth rotation
  • overbite
  • underbite
  • crossbite
  • overjet

How Clear Aligners Work For Your Unique Smile Goals: The Core Mechanism Involved 

The core working mechanism behind clear aligners is that of gradual teeth shifting due to bone remodelling. The treatment involves wearing a series of custom-made aligners for a specified period of time. Each aligner is worn for 20-22 hours everyday, for about 2 weeks time, after which it’s replaced by the next aligner in the series. Each aligner puts gradual pressure on the jaw bone, remodelling the bone structure and ultimately causing teeth to align. 

But how do clear aligners work for the unique smile goals of people with varying dental issues (overcrowding/overbite/underbite, etc.)? These perfect results are achieved by precision on the part of your orthodontist. Depending on your unique needs, your orthodontist decides the exact amount of pressure to be exerted by each aligner in the series, the specific teeth to target and the duration of pressure exertion for optimal results. Using advanced technology like 3D imaging techniques, your orthodontist comes up with a highly customised treatment plan according to your unique dental anatomy, which caters to your unique smile goals.

Clear Aligners Treatment: A 3-Step Overview 

For your ease of understanding, let’s break down the entire process of clear aligners treatment into 3 neat steps:

Step#1: Consultation

First things first: your orthodontist will assess your overall dental profile to see whether you’re a right fit for clear aligners. This will be done with the help of detailed dental photographs, x-rays and impressions using advanced dental technology like 3D scans. These scans will help your orthodontist create a 3D model of your teeth, which will be used as a standard to compare the changes in your alignment as your treatment progresses. Once the assessment is done, a customised treatment plan is crafted for you.

Step#2: Placement Of Aligners

Next, the orthodontist places your first set of aligners and guides you regarding the process and duration of wearing them. The placement of your first set of aligners is a smooth process – your orthodontist will place the aligners on your teeth and ensure they fit snugly and comfortably.

Typically, you’ll have to wear your first set of aligners for 2 weeks, but the duration can lengthen depending on the complexity of your bite issues and the extent of your teeth misalignment. 

Step#3: Monitoring And Progression Of Treatment 

According to your orthodontist’s instructions, you’ll keep visiting him to get your aligners replaced. During this time, they’ll keep monitoring your treatment progress (utilising digital tools and compliance indicators). They’ll also make changes to your treatment plan as needed until the desired outcome is achieved.

During the first 2-3 months of the treatment, you’ll feel the noticeable movement of your teeth due to the powerful yet gradual bone remodelling being in action. This will result in visible straightening of your front teeth and considerable improvement in your overall bite. And as you hit the 6-month mark, you’ll see a significant reduction in your malocclusion. The overall treatment typically takes anywhere from 12-18 months to complete, but the treatment timeline largely depends on the complexity of your case.


Clear aligners work on the mechanism of gradual teeth remodelling and shifting, using a series of plastic aligners to guide teeth into their desired position. Whether you have overbite, underbite, crossbite or overjet, the effective working mechanism of clear aligners will work according to your unique smile goals.

For more details about the groundbreaking treatment of Clear Aligners, book a FREE consultation with Sunset Implant Clinic, a premium dental practice located in Ottawa, ON. Our team of expert orthodontists will craft a custom treatment plan for your unique smile goals, paving your way to a beautifully aligned smile!

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