What's the difference between Invisalign and clear aligners?

3 minute read

If you or your teenage child want to straighten your smile or close gaps between your teeth, you might have heard about Invisalign® treatment as a discreet alternative to traditional braces. You might also have heard other terms like 'clear aligners' and 'invisible braces' and wondered how these compare.

If you're interested in orthodontics without braces, a registered dentist or orthodontist can assess your eligibility during your consultation. They'll also explain the pros and cons of Invisalign treatment or other clear aligner brands and how they compare to other orthodontic treatments, so you can decide what's best for you.

Read this guide for a brief overview of how Invisalign treatment works and how it compares to other teeth straightening options, such as metal and ceramic braces.

What is Invisalign treatment?

Invisalign treatment is a type of clear aligner, but not all clear aligners are Invisalign. The familiarity of the brand name means that clear aligners in general are often referred to as 'Invisalign,' though there are differences between the products.

Manufactured by Align Technology, Invisalign aligners was the first orthodontic system using transparent aligners that became available to the public. Today it has the largest market share, so there's a good chance that the aligners your dentist or orthodontist offers are Invisalign aligners, although they may offer other options too.

Why choose clear aligners?

Clear aligner treatment can have a number of advantages over traditional braces, depending on the orthodontic issue you have. However, because the material isn't as strong as metal braces, aligners may not suit all orthodontic needs. Your dentist will let you know if you're a candidate during your consultation.

Advantages of clear aligners include:

Less visible

The main reason that people choose clear aligners over braces is that the clear plastic is less noticeable on the teeth than the brackets and bands of braces. Aligners are custom made to fit over your teeth, so speech isn't normally affected.

Comfort

All teeth straightening treatments involve some level of discomfort, as gentle force is applied to the teeth to encourage them to move into their new position. However, aligners can be more comfortable to wear than braces, as the surface is smoother and less likely to cause pain or irritation.

Convenience

Clear aligners can be removed when eating and brushing or flossing your teeth. This makes them more convenient than fixed braces, which can restrict certain types of foods and can make brushing and flossing more time-consuming. It's important that you wear your aligners for as long as your dentist recommends, or this can affect the treatment's success.

Am I a candidate for clear aligners?

Invisalign aligners and other clear aligners can be effective for treating mild to moderate orthodontic problems. Only a registered dentist or orthodontist can determine whether aligners are an option for you, which requires a consultation in person at the dental clinic.

During this consultation, your dentist will examine your mouth and jaws to tell if you could benefit from aligners or another type of teeth straightening treatment. They'll also check for signs of problems such as gum disease that will need to be treated before orthodontic treatment can begin.

Everyone's orthodontic needs are unique, but generally, clear aligners may be effective for:

  • Overbite or deep bite – when the upper front teeth extend too far over the lower teeth
  • Open bite – some of the front teeth don't come together when the jaws are closed
  • Gaps in teeth – bringing widely spaced teeth together to close or narrow gaps
  • Crowded teeth – not enough space in the mouth for teeth to develop normally

In some cases, they may also be suited to treat more complex conditions such as:

  • Underbite – the lower front teeth overlap the upper teeth
  • Crossbite – a combination of overbite and underbite

If you have a more severe orthodontic problem that can't be treated with clear aligners, your dentist may recommend an alternative such as ceramic ('invisible') braces. The ceramic brackets can be matched to your natural tooth colour, making the braces less visible on your teeth than metal braces.

Clear aligners were originally developed for adults and older teenagers, but some systems are now designed specifically for teens, such as Invisalign Teen®. These feature compliance indicators to show dentists and parents whether the aligners have been worn for the amount of time recommended.

How does Invisalign work?

If you choose to have Invisalign treatment at Mount Lawley Dental Clinic, our certified Invisalign provider Dr Lewis Moore will make sure you or your child understand what's involved in the treatment and guide you through your orthodontic journey step by step.

1. Planning your treatment

Your dentist will take 3D images of your smile and enter the data into Invisalign's ClinCheck software. This will show you a preview of what your new, straighter smile could look like and map out the full series of clear aligners needed to achieve it.

2. Making your custom aligners

Your entire series of Invisalign® aligners will then be manufactured, each a slightly different shape from the last to gradually move your teeth and jaws into their new position. Each set of aligners is individually trimmed and checked for quality before being delivered to our dental clinic.

3. Fitting and check-ups

When your clear aligners are ready, we'll check that the first set feels comfortable in your mouth and show you how to take out and put in your aligners safely. We'll give you the next few sets and arrange regular appointments where your dentist can check your progress and help you with any problems.

Patient compliance is the key to success for Invisalign® and all other teeth straightening treatments. When you follow your dentist's instructions and only remove your aligners for eating and cleaning, you should be on the way to getting the smile you want.

Certified Invisalign provider in Mount Lawley and North Perth

Dr Lewis Moore is a general dentist at Mount Lawley Dental Clinic, he is a certified Invisalign provider who is passionate about orthodontics and has helped straighten patient smiles for the last four years.

To book a consultation for yourself or your child, call our team on 08 9227 8777 or book online. We'll give you all the information you need about Invisalign® cost and timelines so you can make a fully informed decision.