How Do Nighttime Clear Aligners Work? (2023)

Headgear, braces, retainers — everyone has dreaded the fateful trip to theorthodontist’soffice where they’re prescribed one of these glorified torture devices. Sure, theyhelp you get a gorgeous smile, but they can be painful and are almost always awkward.

If only there was an easier method of aligning your teeth. Too bad there isn’t.

Or is there? Yes. Yes, there is.

Today, there is another method of orthodontic treatment rising in popularity.One that is much more discreet than the metal wires of the past: aligners.

Coming as both daytime and nighttime clear aligners, these devices can change a person’s life for good and are stylishly subtle.Read on for a crash course to figure out if they are right for you.

The History ofa Healthy Smile

To explain what a clear aligner does and what the differences are between the daytime and nighttime varieties, you first need to take a look at how humans have handled dental health in the years before the 20th century.

(Video) How clear aligners work

You have to go far back, further than you might think.

It’s hard to believe at first, but humans have always had a love of straight teeth, no matter the culture. Archaeologists have even discovered Ancient Egyptian mummies with their teeth posthumously straightened. With metal bands or strings of animal organs, embalmers ensured the wealthy would enjoy straight teeth for millennia to come.

It was the early 19th century thatsaw the appearance ofthe first“modern” braces. By wrapping thin bands of metal around teeth, they would become straight by force.

Braces went through many minor adjustments over the years but saw no real change. This was until the 1970s when adhesive to secure the braces to the teethcame into use. To say such an invention was game-changing would be an understatement.

Finally, in 1997, a pair of Stanford students, neither with any experience in orthodontics, got to work. By modifying the design of clear plastic retainers, they created the first commercial clear aligner, releasing it to the world in 2000.

Today, with 2/3 of Canadians having dental insurance, millions of people pursue a variety of orthodontic methods to get the smile of their dreams. All it may take for you to get yours could be something as simple as a set of clear aligners.

What Are Clear Aligners Exactly?

You now know some of the statistics and history of orthodontics, but what makes clear aligners so different?

(Video) Orthodontist Reacts! Do It Yourself Aligners😳 #Shorts

For starters, clear aligners are a new invention compared to more traditional orthodontics. The first commercial set appeared in 1997, only becoming available to the public during the 2000s.

A clear aligneron its own may not look like too much at first glance.Using an impression of your teeth created with a mold, an aligner forms a nearly identical but modified copy of them.Itmight not look like much, but it’s the work it does that makes aligners stand outfrom the crowd.

While you are wearing clear aligners, they behave like a second layer to your teeth. They get to work, straightening your teeth for as long as they are in use. They are a lot like a cast iron pot or a leather jacket in that sense: the more use they get the better they work (thankfully there aren’t so many rules about cleaning aligners, unlike cast iron or real leather).

Thanks to their similar design to retainers, clear aligners can be removed at any time, though keeping them on at all times unless eating or brushing your teeth is a sure-fire way to let them get to work as quickly as possible.

Another difference between clear aligners and traditional metal braces or headgear is comfort.Not only do they not irritate your mouth withharsh metal, but they’re gentle on your wallet as well. An ordinary set of braces in Canada can cost between$3,000 and $10,000. This is by no means a small chunk of change and can easily dissuade a person frompursuing orthodontic treatment.

Even with dental insurance, this number isn’t very affordable. AnALIGNERCO clear aligner package can cost as little as $1,285 by comparison.

Another neat perk clear aligners havethat isn’t often considered is the privacy of the procedure. By sending the impressions and receiving your new aligners in the mail, everything can be done in the comfort of your own home without the need to visit a clinic.

(Video) Invisalign Diary 20: Night-time retainer fully explained

What Makes Nighttime Clear Aligners So Special?

One of the biggest drawbacks of traditional orthodontics is the finality of them. While yes, after a whilea person will have their braces or headgear removed, it takes a long time and brings about many lifestyle changes. Having a bunch of metal stuck to your teeth or jaw isn’t the most appealing of sights, and many people dread not being able tosnack on what they used to.

Daytime clear aligners can rectify this problem since they’re much harder to spot at a distance if you don’t know to look for them and can be removed to enjoy popcorn, gum, or taffy.

Still, for some, this isn’t a perfect solution either. They can beawkwardto speak within the beginning, and there’s always the worry of losing track of them after removing them in a public place like a restaurant. Some people will always feel self-conscious while wearing a corrective device, no matter how subtle.

Nighttime clear aligners can eliminate all the problems of a daytime aligner since you only wear it while you sleep. You won’t be having any important meetings, eating,or worrying about what you look and sound like to others since you’ll be fast asleep. Another bonus is that, since you only need to wear these while you sleep, they are only on for about 10 hours a day, much less than the recommended 22 for daytime aligners.

What Are the Drawbacks to Nighttime Clear Aligners?

There has yet to be a “perfect” form of orthodontics invented.None of the currently used straightening techniques are absolutely faultless in their designs.Improvements to the designs of braces, aligners, headgear, and retainers are being made just about every day, and maybe one day the technology will be perfected.

Perhaps in the future, there will be a device that seems like magic. One that straightens teeth instantly with no pain for free. Until that day arrives, it is important to understand that every method of teeth straightening will come with its own drawbacks, and clear aligners are no different.

Both forms of clear aligners work well to straighten teeth, but they do have their limits. Severely misaligned teeth such as those rotated around in their sockets or those with massive gaps between them need more intense work done. Over and underbites as well as issues within the jaw itself cannot be fixed with clear aligners, and it is recommended to speak with a medical professional about your best course of action should your problems be serious.

(Video) Who is not suitable for clear aligners?

When looking at the pros and cons between daytime and nighttime clear aligners there isn’t a clear winner on which is “better” as everything comes down to a matter of preference.

Whilenighttime aligners are to be worn for 10 hours a day they can take up to 18 months to fully straighten teeth. Daytime aligners on the other hand must be worn for twice as long during the day, up to 22 hours daily, thus shortening the overall wear time to as little as 6 months.

Any orthodontist will tell you that teethhave good “memories,” and they don’t like moving. When an aligner is not in, it will seem like they are taking advantage of the fact to move around back to their original positions. This happening is more likely with nighttime aligners thanks to their daily wear time being shorter, which is one of the reasons for 18 months of treatment being not unusual.

To avoid the drawbacks that come with nighttime clear aligners, it is important to practice proper use and care of them.

Are Nighttime Clear Aligners Right for You?

You can get that perfect smile with either daytime or nighttime clear aligners. They both serve the purpose of straightening your teeth without the need for more intrusive gear or a tripto the orthodontist.

The biggest difference between the two is which fits your schedule and way of life the best. Whether you want to straighten your teeth as fast as possible or gradually over time.

By taking this simple free assessment and answering a few questions about your oral health and history you can easily figure out which form of clear aligner is right for you.

(Video) NightTime Clear Aligners - Good? Bad? Healthy?


How do nighttime clear aligners work? ›

How Do Nighttime Clear Aligners Work? Nighttime clear aligners are BPA-free plastic trays used at night to gradually straighten teeth. It may take 6-18 months of wear to let your teeth shift into a correct, more suitable position.

Do nighttime aligners really work? ›

Nighttime aligners are an effective treatment. However, they are only effective if used correctly! Patients will need to remember to use their aligners every single night. They must also wear them for the full amount of time prescribed.

Can I wear clear aligners only at night? ›

Invisalign, on the other hand, is meant to be worn all day. No matter if your case is minor or severe, you still need to wear your Invisalign braces at least 20 to 22 hours a day. Only wearing your aligners at night means that your teeth won't move according to schedule.

What happens if you only wear Invisalign at night? ›

What Happens If You Only Wear Invisalign at Night? While you technically can wear Invisalign only at night, in general, no orthodontist recommends it. Wearing clear aligners exclusively at night can potentially double the expected treatment time, even if your case is very mild.

How long does it take for nighttime aligners to work? ›

Our custom aligners gradually and gently shift your teeth to create a smile you'll love in as little as 4-6 months. “4-6 months” claim is based on the number of 22 hour wear customer orders (approx. 95%) with treatment plans that are 4, 5, or 6 months.

What is the difference between daytime and nighttime aligners? ›

Teeth aligner manufacturers make these night-only aligners, which call for 10 hours of consecutive wear. While they work, standard aligners, that are worn for 22 hours per day, will generally give faster and more effective results. Night-only aligners work best for mild correction issues.

Can you wear night time aligners all day? ›

These aligners only need to be worn for 10 hours per day so you can wear them while you sleep, with potentially an hour or two of wear before or after sleeping. Unlike aligners that you wear around the clock, nighttime aligners require continuous wear, meaning you can't take them out to eat or drink.

Why do I clench my teeth at night with Invisalign? ›

Because grinders bite down more frequently than the average person, the aligners are being pressed more consistently into place. Clenching teeth with Invisalign often results in greater effectiveness at bringing teeth into proper alignment.

Can nighttime aligners fix overbite? ›

Clear aligners have quickly become a popular option for multiple orthodontic treatments, including fixing underbites and overbites. The procedure effectively straightens your teeth without the need for brackets and wires.

How do I know if my clear aligners are working? ›

If your Invisalign tray starts to feel loose after the 2nd or 3rd week of the treatment, your aligners have moved your teeth, and it's working.

What happens if you wear Invisalign less than 20 hours? ›

This is why Invisalign recommends that the trays are worn for at least 20 to 22 hours per day. The trays are designed with the assumption that patients will comply with this rule. Failure to follow this rule can result in complications, discomfort, or even timeline treatment delays.

What happens if your teeth aren't straight after Invisalign? ›

It's normal for your teeth to slightly shift after having your Invisalign braces removed or once you stop wearing Invisalign. This is the result of everyday wear and tear on your teeth as you bite down, chew, swallow, and speak.

What is the shortest amount of time to wear Invisalign? ›

The simple answer is: “It depends.” For simple cases, treatment time with Invisalign aligners can be as short as six months. Typically, Invisalign will take 12 months to 18 months to straighten your teeth. For more complex cases such as crowded teeth, the treatment time could be 24 months or slightly longer.

Can I miss a night of Invisalign? ›

The biggest risk of missing any period of Invisalign® use is that the teeth may shift back to an incorrect position. Invisalign® aligners are intended to be worn for 22 to 23 hours out of the day. Any less than this, and you risk hurting your progress.

Can I sleep without my Invisalign for one night? ›

In addition, you should only take out your Invisalign or aligners only to drink hot drinks, eat, and brush your teeth. You should not spend more than 2 hours without wearing your Invisalign. Therefore, removing your Invisalign when you sleep can affect your teeth' straightening process.

How fast do teeth move with clear aligners? ›

On average, it takes anywhere from 6 to 12 months for your teeth to move into the correct position with Invisalign. Most people start noticing some movement, however, within the first two months after getting their first set of aligner trays. Again, these are averages. Your own case might be different.

Is 20 hours a day enough for aligners? ›

In general, wearing Invisalign aligners for 20 hours a day is sufficient to achieve the desired results. However, it's important to note that each patient is different, and the orthodontist may prescribe a different amount of wear time based on the individual needs of the patient.

Can you speed up aligners? ›

If you are considering speeding up your Invisalign treatment, one of the best ways to do it is through using chewing aids. This system helps with Invisalign treatment by making your teeth move more efficiently. It enables you to switch to the next aligner tray faster, thus speeding up the treatment time.

Will smile direct work if only worn at night? ›

Now you can straighten your teeth while you sleep. What if you could get straighter teeth while you sleep? Nighttime Clear Aligners from SmileDirectClub are here, and many customers will now be able to get a smile they'll love with only 10 hours of continuous nightly wear.

Can Invisalign double as a night guard? ›

Absolutely! Invisalign clear aligners actually create a cushion between your teeth, much like a night or bite guard would. Wearing your aligners for at least 20 hours a day (including during sleep), helps to protect your teeth from the affects of grinding.

Do aligners straighten teeth faster than braces? ›

Is Invisalign Really Faster than Braces? In short, the answer is yes. While traditional metal braces require somewhere between 18 and 24 months, the average length of treatment with Invisalign is 12 months. However, the time needed to deliver the results you desire largely depends on how complex the treatment plan is.

What happens if you don't wear your aligners for one day? ›

Teeth will move back to the incorrect position: Your progress towards a perfect smile will go to waste if you leave Invisalign out for a longer duration, like a full day. Your teeth can easily move back to their original positions without Invisalign and undo all your hard work.

What if I dont wear my aligners for 10 hours? ›

Answer: 10 Hrs w/out Aligners in

This will not have a great effect on your treatment, however you maybe a day behind throughout the rest of your treatment. If your second set fits in 4 days great, but do not make a habit of forgetting. YOu may not be as luck further into your treatment.

Should I bite down on Invisalign? ›

Never Bite the Aligners Into Place

However, the material is somewhat fragile and meant to last temporarily. So, care must be taken when placing aligners. Remember, never force the aligners are bite down on them to fit them into place.

Should you bite down with Invisalign? ›

Answer: Biting with invisalign

Yes, it is normal not to be able to bite down with your trays in place. Basically, you will not have a stable bite until you are finished with the treatment as your bite will be changing with each tray.

Can aligners push teeth back? ›

Can clear aligners push teeth back? Absolutely! Depending on the severity of your teeth misalignment or crookedness, clear aligners will most likely be able to help push those pesky out-of-place teeth right to where they're meant to be.

Why do orthodontists push Invisalign? ›

Unlike with traditional braces that use a wire to push or pull teeth into the most optimal alignment, Invisalign® uses a series of plastic aligners to push the teeth into a better alignment. Thus, they are an ideal invisible choice, especially for adults who've always wanted a winning smile.

Can Invisalign fix a 100% overbite? ›

Invisalign corrects most overbite problems. 100% overbite is when your top teeth cover your bottom teeth completely. Your orthodontist will assess whether you need Invisalign or braces, but Invisalign can fix a 100% overbite problem.

Can a night retainer straighten teeth? ›

In short, the answer is no. While braces are designed to place just enough pressure to guide your teeth into the desired positions, retainers are meant to simply hold your teeth in place.

Do clear aligners take longer than braces? ›

Is Invisalign Really Faster than Braces? In short, the answer is yes. While traditional metal braces require somewhere between 18 and 24 months, the average length of treatment with Invisalign is 12 months.

Is 20 hours a day enough for Invisalign? ›

In general, wearing Invisalign aligners for 20 hours a day is sufficient to achieve the desired results. However, it's important to note that each patient is different, and the orthodontist may prescribe a different amount of wear time based on the individual needs of the patient.

Do clear aligners push or pull? ›

Push vs.

Braces are designed in such a way that the tension created with the wires and brackets ends up slowly pulling teeth into straighter positions. Clear aligner therapy, on the other hand, is based on the idea of pushing teeth into place with carefully designed, plastic aligners that fit snugly over your teeth.

What teeth are hardest to move with Invisalign? ›

Typically, the lateral incisors or the teeth next to your front teeth are the most challenging to move with Invisalign aligners and traditional braces.

How do I know if my teeth are moving with aligners? ›

If your Invisalign tray starts to feel loose after the 2nd or 3rd week of the treatment, your aligners have moved your teeth, and it's working.

Why are my teeth moving even with retainer? ›

If you use a cheap retainer, it may have micro-cracks that you are not aware of. These cracks prevent the retainer from doing its proper job which may result in your teeth shifting even if you wear a retainer. Hand-crafting a retainer is an important job.

Can my teeth shift even if I wear my retainer? ›

While the natural settling process may still cause you to notice a slight degree of tooth shifting even if you wear your retainer, using a retainer is the best way to keep shifting to a minimum and preserve your bite.

Why do my teeth move so fast without retainer? ›

Teeth Shifting Without Retainers

If you do not wear your retainer, the fibers in your gum tissue can pull your teeth back into the positions they were in before the braces or aligners forced them into the desirable places. The longer you go without wearing retainers, the more your teeth can shift.

What are the disadvantages of clear aligners? ›

Clear Aligners Cons

They also require very careful cleaning if you want them to remain truly invisible. Clear aligner braces are not good for all types of orthodontic issues. If your teeth need to be moved vertically, or if you need to rotate certain teeth into place, clear aligners cannot help.

What happens if you move your teeth too fast with Invisalign? ›

Answer: Speeding up Invisalign

You can see the teeth above the gums moving (the crowns of the teeth), but the roots of the teeth (under the gums) need time to catch up. If you move them too quickly, you run the risk of causing root resorption.

What fixes teeth faster braces or Invisalign? ›

Total orthodontic treatment time depends on how much the teeth need to be moved or rotated. On average, Invisalign is faster than traditional braces: Invisalign may take 9 to 18 months to complete treatment. Braces typically take 22 months to move teeth into the desired alignment.


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