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Do Teeth Aligners Work?

By WebMD Connect to Care Staff
Dental aligners are a great option for straightening teeth. Find out which dental problems invisible teeth aligners can and can’t fix.

Dental aligners work best for people with mild-to-moderate alignment issues. Read on for more details about using them to achieve the perfect smile. 

Do Dental Aligners Work?

For people with teeth that are slightly overcrowded or that have only small gaps between them, dental aligners can be an effective way to improve tooth alignment.

As long as you are able to commit to wearing aligners for the recommended 20 to 22 hours per day, you are likely to achieve completely straightened teeth within 6 months to 2 years, depending on your individual situation and treatment plan.

Dental aligners apply gentle pressure to your teeth, which gradually moves them into the desired position. After evaluating your teeth and bite, your orthodontist or online aligner provider will create your customized tooth trays and treatment plan. You'll wear each set of trays for up to 2 weeks before progressing to the next set.

“Overall, [dental aligners offer] a safe process to straighten your teeth. [They are] non-invasive with minimal risk,” Diana Wu, DDS, owner of Issaquah Premier Dental, tells WebMD Connect to Care. “In some cases and like any other appliance, patients are allergic to the aligner trays,” Wu explains. “Most of the risk from [dental aligners] comes from improper care during treatment.”

“Improper care may lead to food or bacteria getting stuck in the aligners. This can lead to enamel breakdown, cavities, teeth staining, and gum disease,” Wu says. “But with proper dental hygiene, these risks are very low.”

For most people, the advantages of dental aligners outweigh the risks. “There are three main advantages for [dental aligners] vs braces: Dental hygiene, aesthetics, and convenience,” Wu explains. 

With dental aligners, you can brush and floss your teeth as normal, since you take the aligners out to clean your teeth. They are also nearly invisible when worn and can be taken out for special occasions. 

Dental Problems Aligners Can’t Fix

Whileinvisible teeth aligners are effective at treating mild to moderately misaligned teeth, they are not appropriate for more severe alignment issues. “Difficult cases cannot be treated with aligners,” Margarita Degtyareva, DDS, owner of Always Beautiful Smile in Brooklyn, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

Degtyareva explains issues that can’t be fixed with aligners include:

  • Severe underbite
  • Ectopic canines
  • Severe crowding
  • Severely inclined back teeth
  • Severe midline discrepancy

Although clear dental aligners are effective at straightening teeth, “the patient has to be very responsible and wear them 22 hours per day to reap the benefit,” Degtyareva says. Consulting with an orthodontist or reputable online aligner provider will help you determine if dental aligners are the right option for you.

Start Your Journey to a More Confident Smile Today!

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