In April 2021, Align Technology celebrated ten million Invisalign smiles, so evidently, clear aligners work to straighten teeth. But how do invisible braces work precisely? 

Clear aligners are totally unlike traditional braces, yet they achieve similar results in most cases. In this article, we’ll uncover the basics of clear aligner technology to help you understand how this innovative orthodontic treatment works. 


What is aligner technology?

Aligner technology is an alternative to fixed braces. Invisalign ® is one of the best-known examples of this technology, but there are plenty of other brands available to choose from. Often referred to as invisible braces, the treatment utilises clear plastic aligners or trays to move teeth in tiny increments when worn continually.

Unlike traditional braces that are permanently fixed to the teeth, clear aligners are removable and usually changed at 14-day intervals. They look just like clear retainers or teeth whitening trays.

A series of invisible braces are manufactured from virtual models of the teeth, with each aligner gradually moving the teeth closer to alignment. 

The number of aligners needed in a patient’s treatment to achieve good results varies depending on the complexity of their bite, how much resistance the jaw presents to movement, and how consistently the aligners are worn. Typically, the number of clear aligners ranges between 10 and 50.  



How do invisible braces work?

All orthodontic treatment uses force to move teeth. While traditional braces apply pressure individually to the teeth, invisible braces apply force overall to the teeth. 

Each aligner or tray is different from the last and is designed to move different teeth and apply pressure in different areas as a patient progresses through their trays. Typically, each tray moves the teeth 0.25 of a millimetre, and it’s these slight changes in the trays that gradually align the teeth. .


So, how do invisible braces work to straighten teeth?

To help you understand this part, we have to get more technical. According to Newton’s Third Law of Physics, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” 

This concept is also applicable to clear braces. As the trays apply force to the teeth, an opposite reaction occurs within the body. 

The reaction occurs within the jaw bone and is called osteoclastic and osteoblastic activity. Osteoclastic activity breaks down the bone, enabling the teeth to move, while osteoblastic activity fills the gap left behind by the moving tooth. 

The constant shift between osteoclastic and osteoblastic activity allows the clear aligners to move and straighten teeth. 

One thing to know about the osteoclastic activity is that it takes approximately 48 to 72 hours to start but can stop after four hours. This is why patients need to wear their aligners for 22 hours a day to achieve good results. Not doing so can prolong the treatment, and inevitably, this means greater cost. 

clear aligners effectivity burwoodThings to remember with invisible braces

  • Your teeth will only move when the aligners are in your mouth, so you must be disciplined and wear them for the allotted time of 22 hours a day. 
  • Stick to the aligner changeover that your dentist or orthodontist recommends
  • Monitor the fit of your aligners and if you have any concerns, contact your dentist right away
  • Bear in mind that it’s difficult to accurately predict the number of aligners needed to reach your smile goal. Try to be flexible.


So what now?

Now you know how invisible braces work, it may be time to have your smile assessed by our dentists. We can tell you if you’re a suitable candidate for aligner treatment and discuss the potential time frame and treatment plan. 

Why not schedule a consultation with the experienced dentists at My Local Dentists. We offer Invisalign clear aligners and Invisalign alternatives, including SureSmile and ClearCorrect to help save on costs. 




Globe-News Wire – Align Celebrates 10 Million Invisalign Smiles With 10 Million Thanks – Donates $10 Million to the Align Foundation to Fund Organisations That Transform Smiles and Support and Educate Teens

Physics Classroom – Newton’s Third Law

Medicine Net – Definition of Oestoclast

Medicine Net – Definition of Osteoblast