Clear Tooth Aligners: Are They Right for You?

As an alternative to traditional braces, clear tooth aligners have become very popular in recent years. They might be the right choice for you or for your child. These plastic aligners (or series of aligners) accomplish the same goal of straightening and properly aligning teeth as traditional braces, but with several advantages. Unfortunately, these are not the best choice for everyone.

Advantages of Clear Tooth AlignersClear tooth aligners - Are they right for you - Caroline Wallace DDS

  1. Appearance. Clear aligners are almost invisible, making them a good choice for those who are concerned about the appearance of their teeth during the alignment process.
  2. Removable. Clear aligners can be removed as you choose.
  3. Eat what you want. Some foods should not be eaten when wearing conventional braces because they can become caught in the hardware and cause pain or damage. Clear aligners allow you to eat whatever you want.
  4. Fast results. Clear aligners are one of the fastest and easiest ways to straighten and align teeth.
  5. Minimal pain. Clear aligners correct tooth alignment continuously and gradually as opposed to the periodic adjustment of braces, which can be painful or irritating.
  6. Less frequent dental appointments. Clear aligners require a visit to the dentist only once every 6 to 8 weeks. Many people find this preferable due to busy schedules.
  7. Better oral health. Unlike the tendency of traditional braces to trap food particles that are difficult to remove, tooth aligners are simply removed while you brush, easily cleaned, and replaced.

Answers to Most Common Questions

Most people have questions about clear aligners. We believe you should have every opportunity to ask all of your questions and receive thoughtful and helpful answers before you decide to use them. The following are responses to the most commonly asked questions.

  • What should I expect during treatment? You may experience some occasional minor pain for a day or two at a time because the new aligners are moving your teeth. People might ask why your teeth look different. You can expect your “bite” to feel different during the process. You may have a lisp during the early days of using aligners.
  • How comfortable are the aligners?  Although you may experience some irritation or sores in your mouth while using clear aligners, they tend to become more comfortable as you wear them. The devices may cause some increase in salivation or in dry mouth.
  • How are they cleaned? Proper oral hygiene is important when using aligners to prevent damage to your teeth or gums. The devices can be cleaned with a toothbrush and cool water.
  • What are the bumps on some aligners? The bumps are called “engagers.” These may be attached to facilitate difficult tooth adjustments. They are made of a composite material that matches the color of your teeth.
  • How long does the process take? The duration of the process varies depending upon the amount of realignment needed, your health, and the rate of bone and tissue adjustment. Your dentist will review this with you before beginning the process.
  • Do I wear the aligners all day? We recommend that you wear the aligners for 22 hours every day. They should be removed for eating and cleaning. Failure to do so will slow down the entire process.
  • How often are the aligners changed? Typically, you will move from one aligner to the next every 1 to 3 weeks. However, frequency depends upon the amount of change needed and your willingness to diligently follow instructions.
  • What happens when the whole process is finished? You will be given a retainer and instructed how long to wear it to maintain the realignment.
  • What material is used to make the clear aligners? Aligners are made of a polyurethane resin that has been extensively tested. The resin contains no BPA or phthalates.
  • Can I use clear aligners when pregnant? The materials contain nothing harmful, but you should discuss your health with your dentist.
  • Are aligners covered by my insurance? You will need to ask your insurance company about your coverage. Some policies cover clear aligners and others do not.

Most people are familiar with the brand name Invisalign. When their patent expired, others began to make similar products. At that time, we switched to Clear Correct. It is less expensive and equally effective.


Clear tooth aligners are a wonderful option for many people (though not all). It is a beautiful thing when appropriately used. If you have additional questions, please ask.