The Downsides of Clear Aligners... And The Ways They’re Downplayed

The Downsides of Clear Aligners... And The Ways They’re Downplayed

The end goal with clear aligners is of course a healthy, beautiful smile.

But we don’t often consider the impact this life-changing decision can have on us mentally.

Take, for instance, the fact that I was minutes away from signing my Invisalign treatment contract with a cosmetic dentist and she ultimately passed me along to an orthodontist who could provide “better expertise in cases like mine.”

Okayyy, sure? Knowing that I would be under the care of an orthodontist was reassuring, however, I was less than thrilled to be one of the oldest patients in the waiting area. (In reality, a good majority of the patients under my orthodontist's care happen to be older than I am). 

Here are a few other downsides I encountered myself: 

Downside #1: Some Trays Will Be Slow at "Doing Their Magic" 

For your teeth to progress onto the next set of aligners, they NEED to track properly.

There were a few occasions when my dentist told me to keep my trays in for an extra 4-5 days because on her end, she could see that my teeth needed more time to make those changes. 

So how long does Invisalign take to start working? It may take a few weeks. You can't expect day-over-day milestones and each person will see improvements at their own pace. For me, month 3 paved the way for strong alignment on my bottom teeth. By month 6, my front two teeth were seated in their appropriate spots. 

Downside #2: There's Going to Be a Spotlight Put on Your Periodontal Health

Even though I regularly brush and floss, my orthodontist found a small dark spot on one of my molars. After a routine examination, my dentist then referred me to another practice to have a filling applied to the affected tooth. 

Proper oral hygiene is crucial because the aligners can trap food/bacteria. Schedule an appointment with your dentist every 6 months to check for cavities and gum disease. 

Downside #3: Your Teeth Will Need to Be Rescanned After Every Additional Set of New Aligners

My trays came in sets of 13. The longest period of time I had to wait for my next round of aligners was an ENTIRE MONTH. After a few days you’ll notice that your trays will become slightly discolored and slimy therefore it’s extremely important to brush and soak them every day. 

Downside #4: There's Room for Error With Self Scans and You'll Have to Retake Your Photos If They Come Out Blurry, Upside Down, Etc.

Here's an email subject line that'll put you in a funk. Timestamp? 11:20 p.m.

My orthodontist set me up with an at-home scan box which connected to my phone. This process meant I only had to make in-person trips to her office every 3 months. Sounds too good to be true, right?


The application has its flaws and you can't rush through the process. This submission was flagged for being out of focus. 

Granted, I didn’t receive a notification until the following day about my “late scan." That in itself was frustrating. 

Downside #5: Your Treatment Plan May Surpass the 1-Year Mark, From Start to Finish

Anticipate that you might be instructed to wear a round of refinement trays (sets of aligners towards the end of your plan which help pull pesky canines or incisors into their appropriate positions). The cost should be included in your overall estimate, unless you opted for a moderately priced plan like Invisalign Lite or HyperByte. 

Such obstacles and delays are often out of our control. Try as hard as you can to push any discouraging thoughts to the side. 

Remember, you’ve got this. 

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