What is Invisalign?

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign is a method for straightening teeth gradually over time. It uses clear plastic aligners to progressively move teeth, directed by an orthodontist, to relieve minor misalignments and other cosmetic issues. 

The clear aligners are not novel and have been actively used in dentistry for more than 20 years, but this pales when compared to the 100 years plus of traditional metal brace use. 

How do you get invisible aligners?

Although you can go online and order an aligner with a DIY dental moulding kit this is not recommended. So, what actually goes on when you go to your dentist to try an invisible aligner?


You head into your local dentist and ask for an assessment from their orthodontist or cosmetic brace practitioner. They have the expertise to determine if an invisible aligner would be a suitable and worthwhile investment for you. 

If so, a highly detailed record needs to be made of your correct tooth position. This is often done with a dental mould, but when pursuing Invisalign Harley Street, mostclinics use an intraoral 3D scanner, which is much faster and more accurate. 

The dental models are scanned or the scan is sent directly to be processed using computer software by a specialist orthodontist. They then alter the digital image of the patient’s teeth, straightening and rotating them to improve the appearance and alignment. The finished image is the idealised final position.

Then the computing can begin. The clever part of an invisible aligner is its elegance, automated design and fabrication. You will be able to see the start position of the teeth and the idealised end position. An anatomically accurate model of the patient’s teeth is exposed to forces associated with the brace, and the movement of the teeth is charted after a long period of trial and error. A vector map of the necessary forces to move the teeth to the new position is created. 

From the vector maps, a set of aligners can be designed that will generate the force needed to move the patient’s teeth.  

The clear aligners are very personalised and will only be of use to one patient for a relatively short period of time. 

What are clear aligners like to wear?

For these clear aligners to be effective, they have to be worn the majority of the day, 22 hours a day is recommended with gaps for eating food and brushing teeth. Any aligner free days can significantly lengthen the overall treatment time. 

The consistent application of the force makes invisible aligners more comfortable than traditional metal braces. As they require no tightening, there are no periods of intense pressure or discomfort during wear, making them ideal to sleep in.

DIY clear aligners

Several aligner manufacturers will provide their services without the oversight of a dentist; many can be found online and offer at-home kits. These groups have been strongly discouraged by the British Orthodontic Society (BOS) who have voiced their concerns about the inappropriate use of aligners and the potential causing of harm to patients.