Clear Aligners (also known as Invisible Braces) are custom-made transparent plastic orthodontic devices designed to move teeth in lieu of traditional metal or ceramic braces. Popular Clear Aligner brands include ClearCorrect, SmileDirect, and Invisalign. Treatment can cost between $2,500 and $8,000. Some online providers offer the entire treatment process for $2,000 or less. The final out-of-pocket cost depends on your dental insurance.
Clear aligners are manufactured from an impression or 3-D scan of your teeth and mouth. Before getting Clear Aligner treatment, you might also visit a Dentist or Orthodontist for an evaluation, X-Rays and photographs (although there are some companies that do the entire process by mail order). Once all of the preliminary work is done, the company that makes the Clear Aligners will manufacture the sets of custom plastic aligners, which will gradually move your teeth.
You need to wear the aligners for 20 to 24 hours per day, and replace them every few weeks with a brand new set until your treatment is done. The average treatment time for Clear Aligners is a little more than one year, but some cases might take longer. Sometimes you need to use an Aligner Chewie to help seat a new set of aligners. You also need to soak the aligners every day with a retainer cleaner that kills bacteria and keeps your aligner fresh and healthy. In between cleanings, a retainer wipe is useful to keep them clean between meals and snacks. If you don’t clean your aligners properly every day, you could develop a bacterial overgrowth in your body that might become life-threatening.
Some people have reported that they have developed an allergic reaction to Clear Aligners. Several articles have been written about this problem in various scientific journals. The FDA is aware of this situation.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction to Clear Aligners include:
- Swollen and/or sore lips, gums, tongue or throat
- Coughing, reflux, or other upper respiratory problems
- Shortness of breath
- Swollen lymph nodes in your neck
- Fatigue/feeling rundown
- Ear infections or balance problems
- Chronic headaches
If you develop any of these symptoms after starting Clear Aligner treatment, tell your Dentist or Orthodontist immediately; it could develop into a life-threatening allergic situation! This doesn’t mean that you need to totally stop Clear Aligner treatment — the manufacturers of the various clear aligner products are aware of this allergy, and can re-make your aligners in a different non-allergic material (or use a different non-allergic coating on them).
In general, it is a good idea to clean any new set of Clear Aligners thoroughly before inserting them in your mouth. This will ensure that factory residue is washed off of them, and may reduce the chances of an allergic reaction.