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Common Clear Aligner Myths: Busted!

Not sure what's fact or fiction? Read on.

With clear aligner treatment still being relatively new in the world (the first set were only invented in 1997, and it’s only much more recently that popularity has skyrocketed) it’s understandable that people have some concerns. When something is new, and it promises to be effective and affordable, there will naturally be doubts.

Many of these concerns around clear aligner treatment are complete myths – which is where we can help. Here are some of the most common clear aligner myths, and the honest truth about each one.

Myth #1 – Clear aligners are expensive

What’s the myth?

The belief is that clear aligners are an expensive treatment. Because they’re less visible than metal braces, some think that they must cost a premium. Even when researching in more detail, potential customers can be put off by what look like high prices.

Fact or fiction?

Mainly fiction, although it depends on your outlook. Yes, Invisalign treatment can cost anywhere between $3,000 and $8,000 which you might think looks extremely expensive, but it’s only the same rough guideline price as traditional metal braces.

Plus, at-home aligners are actually cheaper than this. The cheapest providers start at around $1,200 and the cost can be spread with a finance plan, making it even more affordable. Factor in that you an often use insurance or FSA and HSA plans, and the savings you’ll make long term with teeth that have fewer problems, and really clear aligner treatment isn’t that expensive at all.

You can learn more about the real cost of clear aligner treatment with our guide here.

Myth #2 – Clear aligners don’t work, or can only fix really minor issues

What’s the myth?

A lot of people are skeptical about whether clear aligners work at all. And even those that think they do work are sometimes unsure whether they can do more than make minor adjustments to your teeth.

Fact or fiction?

100% fiction here. Clear aligners definitely work, and have a proven success rate. Qualified dentists and orthodontists recommend them as part of their own treatment suggestions, which should completely reassure you.

As for how effective they are, they can certainly treat more than just minor adjustments. It’s true that they aren’t the most powerful treatment method – if you have severe misalignment, you may need a more permanent solution than removable aligners – but they’ve come along way in the past few years and technological advancements mean even moderate issues can be dealt with at-home with no need to make regular dentist visits.

Myth #3 – Clear aligner treatment is much slower than traditional braces

What’s the myth?

Because clear aligners are removable and not worn 24/7 (although they are worn for almost all that time), they’re slower. Plus, the fact they are plastic instead of metal braces means that they don’t do as much pushing as traditional braces.

Fact or fiction?

This one is complete fiction too. Clear braces are, on average, faster than traditional wired braces. Clear aligner treatment will last somewhere between 6 and 12 months for most patients – sometimes longer and, in some cases with some providers, sometimes as low as 4 months.

Traditional braces actually take, on average, around 18-24 months to complete the treatment. Now that may be because they also tackle more severe misalignments, but for mild to moderate treatments it is no slower to opt for clear aligners.


Myth #4 – Adult teeth can’t be moved very effectively

What’s the myth?

Teeth alignment treatment is only really suitable for children and teenagers. By the time you’re an adult, your teeth have settled and the only way to move them is complex treatment that is more forceful and painful.

Fact or fiction?

Chalk up another fiction here. Clear aligners are extremely effective for adults. In fact many providers will insist on only adults using clear aligners, because it’s only once teeth have fully settled that the real situation with your smile is known. Opt for treatment too early, and it could be undone by the emergence of your wisdom teeth or as your other teeth move into their final positions.

That’s not to say all providers don’t allow children – some let customers as young as 12 use clear aligners, providing parents or guardians have given full consent. But there is certainly nothing that says adults can’t undergo aligner treatment and indeed it is designed primarily for adults.

Myth #5 – Clear aligners are painful to use

What’s the myth?

Clear aligners are painful – they hurt your teeth and gums as they work and will cause you to suffer discomfort for most of the day while you are wearing them.

Fact or fiction?

Clear aligners shouldn’t hurt, but they will cause a little bit of discomfort. It’s nothing that you won’t get used to quickly, and barely notice. So this is mainly fiction. If you want an idea of how it feels, just push against one of your teeth now with a finger. Notice how when you push there’s some mild discomfort? Well clear aligners are actually using less force than that. So you won’t notice it much at all.

On some rare occasions, aligners can hurt – but they shouldn’t. This means there’s a problem, and they either aren’t fitting you correctly or they’ve been made to an incorrect specification. If your clear aligners to hurt, just speak to your dentist, orthodontist or primarily your provider and you’ll be able to get a solution pretty quickly.

Myth #6 – Clear aligners get dirty easily and can smell

What’s the myth?

Because they are made of plastic, and they’re constantly in contact with your saliva, aligners can lose their clear color quickly and smell pretty bad too.

Fact or fiction?

It is fact that clear aligners can lose their color and start to smell – but only if you don’t care for them properly. You’ll be told by your provider how best to maintain your clear aligners, which will usually include rinsing them, soaking them in water and sometimes brushing them gently with your toothbrush. Follow these instructions and you won’t have any problems – your aligners will stay clear and odor-free until it’s time to switch to the next set.

If you are concerned though, you can purchase aligner cleaner tablets, which will give your aligners a deeper clean without damaging them, and remove any impurities and bacteria that might be building up.

Got any more concerns about clear aligners? Feel free to check out our in-depth FAQs page which has plenty more answers to common questions about clear alignment treatment.