What You Need To Know About Invisalign
What You Need To Know About Invisalign

What You Need To Know About Invisalign


Removable, discreet and promising impressive results, Invisalign is now a well-established alternative to traditional braces. It’s an investment, so it’s essential to do your research and choose the right dentist. To help you start that process, we tapped a couple of pros for their advice…

First, what exactly is Invisalign?

“It’s the original and most widely used clear aligner system that gently and precisely straightens your teeth, having treated over 15m people to date worldwide,” explains Dr Tom Crawford-Clarke, founder of Luceo Dental. “Clear aligners are plastic, removable trays that are 3D printed to precisely fit your teeth. You change them every 1-2 weeks and the next tray gradually moves your teeth a fraction towards their straightened position – moving the teeth gradually, safely and effectively.”

What are the benefits compared to traditional braces?

Traditional braces usually take longer to straighten teeth, Tom tells us, and Invisalign can be a dentist’s preferred method for numerous reasons. “Firstly, Invisalign is more comfortable than braces as the aligners only move your teeth a fraction at a time each week, whereas fixed braces are tightened every few months and place a bigger amount of pressure on the teeth at once. Also, Invisalign aligners are taken out to eat and drink, so you don’t have to avoid the foods you love, and they’re easier to clean as there are no metal brackets and wires in the way. Plus, Invisalign is more aesthetic and socially acceptable– you have the option to take them out if you have an event or meeting, for example. In the long run, it’s often quicker and more effective, as well as being more affordable than fixed braces.”

How does the process work?

The process begins with a consultation to decide how you want your teeth to look, explains Tom. “We would discuss the ideal end result. This includes deciding where the attachments need to be placed – these are the small pieces of composite that allow the aligners to have greater efficiency and precision. The aligners are planned to move your teeth by a small and precise amount, so the number of aligners we need will be determined by how much tooth movement is needed.” After the consultation and the plan is approved, the aligners are 3D printed and shipped to the clinic. “At Luceo, we would then place the attachments onto your teeth, show you how to insert and remove the aligners, and provide you with all the necessary instructions on what to do.”

How long do you need to wear them for?

The length of treatment differs from patient to patient, but you’ll need to wear your aligners for most of the day, explains Tom. “You should ideally wear them for 20-22 hours a day, so you can change the aligners weekly and get the best result in the shortest amount of time. You take them out to eat and drink anything other than water, and to clean your teeth. In general, treatment can be as quick as three months and on average it’s 6-8 months.”

Who is the right candidate?

In the hands of an experienced Invisalign provider, most cases can be treated, says aesthetic dentist Dr Safa Al-Naher. “Invisalign is particularly effective at resolving crowded and overlapping teeth, closing spaces, reducing flared teeth, correcting bites and widening smiles.” Tom adds that you must have a healthy mouth which is suitable for orthodontic movements. “During an initial consultation, we check you’re a suitable candidate, making sure the roots of the teeth are long enough, for example. Invisalign can be used to treat the most complex of cases – ones that most people would generally think couldn't be done.”

Is it painful?

It can be more uncomfortable than painful, especially at certain stages of treatment, says Safa. “Your mouth is most likely to feel tender in the first three days after having the first aligner fitted. This is because the teeth aren’t yet ‘mobile’ and the remodelling process is just getting started. This is usually felt as a dull ache, especially during eating and when the aligners have been removed.

Tom adds that you might also feel tightness in between changing aligners. “Because the aligners are pre-programmed to move your teeth by a small and precise amount, every time you change to a new aligner there is some tightness and pressure. It’s a good idea to change them before you go to bed to minimise any discomfort. I often have patients asking if it’s working as they haven’t felt any pain. The first week is always the hardest, so some people take mild painkillers just in case, but the majority of people find it surprisingly pain free.”

What does post-care treatment look like?

Most dentists recommend both fixed and removable retainers after completing treatment to reduce the risk of your teeth moving again in the future, explains Tom. “The fixed retainer is a small wire that sits behind your front 4-6 teeth. It is permanent, which is great as you have something that keeps your teeth straight 24/7. That said, it can make it slightly more difficult to clean your teeth, so you’ll need to see a good hygienist more often. Meanwhile, the removable retainer looks and feels like your Invisalign tray and is worn every night for the first 6 months and at least a few times a week thereafter.”

And finally, how much does it typically cost?

“The cost will depend on how many aligners you need and how complex your treatment is, but the average cost for my patients is between £3,650 and £4,450 (including teeth whitening gels),” says Tom. It’s also important to find a reputable dentist, as any price significantly below this figure could be a red flag, explains Safa. “There is so much variation out there, so it’s important to understand that not every dentist offering Invisalign is qualified, and may not be offering the same product. For starters, check it’s actually the Invisalign brand being offered. There are many clear aligner systems out there, but Invisalign the brand is superior – it invests over £100m each year into research and development. It’s also worth checking how many cases a dentist has treated – anyone with over 200 cases would be considered a moderately experienced provider. The Invisalign website also has a doctor finder, which displays experience level.”

Here, Tom share his dos and don’ts for getting the most out of your treatment…


  • Make sure you're wearing your aligners enough, for at least 20-22 hours a day, so you can change your aligners every 7-10 days and make the treatment as quick as it (safely) can be.
  • Always take your aligners out to eat anything or drink anything other than water. The aligners can stain – and you don’t want coffee or matcha-coloured aligners. 
  • Brush your teeth and aligners after every meal before putting them back in. Otherwise, food will get trapped in your teeth which has the potential to cause cavities and other issues.
  • Visit your dentist for regular check-ups and use a monitoring app to keep on track, so your dentist can pick up on any issues where your teeth might not be tracking as planned.


  • Wrap your aligners in a tissue or napkin – this is the quickest way to lose or damage them. If you lose one, you have to wait for a replacement to be made which can take one to two weeks.
  • Eat turmeric or other staining foods for the first 24 hours after having your attachments fitted – they can go bright yellow. It can be polished off but it’s better to prevent this from happening. 
  • Brush your teeth straight after having a sugary or acidic drink. Instead, swill your mouth with water, use mouthwash or chew some xylitol sugar-free gum for 5-10 minutes before putting your aligners back in. You want to neutralise the acid rather than brush this kind of drink away as the surface of your enamel is at its weakest after anything acidic has been consumed.
  • Clean your aligners with boiling hot water – they will melt. 

Ready to find a dentist? Visit the SL Directory for our list of recommended cosmetic dentists. 

For more information from our experts, visit LuceoDental.com and SereneDental.co.uk

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