Clear aligners are custom-made plastic removeable trays which gradually move teeth into position. They are one of the most comfortable and aesthetic ways to straighten teeth.
What is Invisalign
Invisalign is a computer simulated treatment controlled by your orthodontist. He takes impressions of your teeth, or scans your teeth directly with an intraoral scanner. Align Technologies, the company which manufactures Invisalign, digitally simulates how your teeth would move into alignment. Once your orthodontist approves the simulation (or requests changes), the aligners are custom-fabricated and sent to your doctor’s office.
Other clear aligner brands
Other clear aligner brands are Red White and Blue, Simpli5, and Clearcorrect. Invisalign is the most well-known clear aligner provider, and compared to the other offerings they have been around longer, and have invested more in both patient-focused marketing (why you have heard of them on the radio but not “Red White and Blue”), as well as in R&D in technological advancements. Invisalign, for example, developed “compliance indicators” which are blue dots that fade the more you wear the aligners, letting your orthodontist tell if you’ve been forgetting to wear them. The other companies which offer clear aligners tend to charge less to dentists, which can result in less costly treatment for you if your dentist passes on the savings. Other systems claim to be more clear than Invisalign, in that the Invisalign aligners are manufactured with small ridges, and other systems are completely smooth.
Will aligners work for me?
Traditionally, Invisalign and other clear aligners are used for minor misalignment, and not for major issues with your bite, or if you need extractions. However there are some experienced orthodontists who have managed to treat more difficult cases with Invisalign, in particular, using it in conjunction with elastics. See Do they actually work? for more information on factors that affect the efficacy of Invisalign treatment.