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How Does Invisalign Move Teeth?

by Dr. Amer Hussain, on Nov 30, 2019 11:45:00 AM

In our first part of this mini-series, we went over the broad picture of how Invisalign works; things like what is Invisalign, what is it made of and what it can fix.

For this part of our instalment, we will go over the mechanics on how Invisalign actually moves your teeth. So let’s get into it.. 

How do clear aligners or Invisalign actually move your teeth?
All orthodontic treatments utilize force to move teeth. With braces, they apply force individually to the teeth. The wires and brackets are able to move the teeth into alignment through the arch-wire which applies the majority of the pressure to the teeth. The elastics that braces use are able to pull the jaw into alignment. 

For Invisalign or clear aligners, they utilize for in a different way. Instead of applying force individually, they apply force as a whole to the teeth.

Each tray designed by your orthodontist will be slightly modified from the last, each tray will have the objective of moving different teeth and applying pressure in different areas as you progress through your trays. 

One tray, on average, will move your teeth 1/10 of a millimeter! These slight changes in the tray is what helps move your teeth into ideal alignment. 

Okay, I get that force thing but how does my body know to move my teeth?
For this part, we have to get a little more technical. According to Newton’s Third Law of Physics, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” this concept also applies to clear aligners or Invisalign. As the Invisalign trays apply force to your teeth, there is an opposite reaction happening within your body. 

This opposite reaction happens with the bone of your jaw and is called osteoclastic activity and osteoblastic activity. Osteoclastic activity is the process of breaking down the bone (which then allows your teeth to move), the process of then filling the gap left behind by the moving tooth is called osteoblastic activity.

It’s this process of back and forth between osteoclastic and osteoblastic activity that allows clear aligners to move and shift teeth. 


Pretty interesting stuff eh? Now there is one very important thing to note about osteoclastic activity: the time frame around it. Osteoclastic activity takes 48-72 hours to fully begin, but only about 4 hours to stop. This highlights why it’s so important to wear your retainers for as long as you can and for at least 22 hours a day

If you don’t wear your Invisalign or aligners for a several solid hours, you can actually prolong your treatment. Wearing your Invisalign and clear aligners is so essential to your treatment progressing on time

So, what now?
Now that you have a full understand how Invisalign works, it may be time to get your smile assessed by an orthodontist. They will be the ones to tell you if you’re an ideal candidate for Invisalign and give you details about your potential treatment plan and time.


Invisalign Vs. Braces

Invisalign and braces both offer unique advantages and disadvantages. The differences between Invisalign and Braces are listed here More About braces vs Invisalign →

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