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People choose to get clear aligner therapy because they want straighter, whiter teeth and a more confident smile. Many patients are pleasantly surprised by some other benefits that they weren’t expecting when they began the treatment process. These unexpected benefits include:

  • Improved oral health
  • Instant esthetic improvement from wearing the aligners
  • Healthy weight loss from improved eating habits

Improved Oral Health

Clear aligner treatment can result in improved oral health for a few reasons:

  • Patients develop more consistent brushing habits while in treatment
  • It is harder to clean teeth well when they are misaligned. As teeth become aligned better, it becomes easier to clean the teeth
  • When teeth are misaligned, it can result in chipping and premature wear on the teeth. Effective orthodontic treatment will prevent this type of tooth damage

Instant esthetic improvement from wearing the aligners

Many patients are pleasantly surprised by how much better their smile looks immediately when they first put their aligners in. Aligners work on teeth in a similar way to how makeup works on skin; covering up the blemishes. The picture below shows a patient with and without the aligners. Both pictures were taken on the same day…

Comparison of teeth with and without aligners

Healthy weight loss

Snacking. Drinking soda. Many of us do it more frequently than we should, and our waistlines pay the price. Grabbing that salty or sweet snack is just too easy!

Clear aligners need to be removed when eating and drinking (other than water). Teeth then need to be cleaned before the aligners go back on to ensure food particles don’t get stuck in there and cause irritation. The aligner routine isn’t difficult, but it can provide a powerful disincentive to snacking. That bag of chips or that cookie all-of-a-sudden become not worth the trouble. For this reason, many patients LOVE wearing aligners because it makes it easier to be more disciplined with what you consume throughout the day. Often that results in some of those unwanted pounds being shed during the treatment process.

If you have been researching clear aligner therapy to straighten your teeth, you would be justified in wondering: are at-home clear aligners safe?

First, let’s be clear about what we mean by “at-home” aligners. Clear aligner therapy can be:

  • delivered and monitored by the doctor directly in an office setting, OR
  • delivered and monitored by the doctor remotely via a teledentistry platform.

The teledentistry version is commonly referred to as at-home aligners, or sometimes at-home invisible braces. Neither of these treatment delivery methods should be confused with the dangerous trend of do-it-yourself orthodontics which does not involve doctor oversight or the use of prescribed orthodontic appliances. Do-it-yourself orthodontics is extremely risky and is not recommended under any circumstances.

Second, there are certain risks associated with all forms of orthodontic treatment. An informed consent document will typically outline the common risks. Like any other medical procedure or treatment, it is impossible to eliminate all risk. Regardless of the treatment delivery method, there are three main things that will minimize the risks of adverse effects during treatment:

  1. A thorough oral exam
  2. Patient compliance with treatment protocols
  3. Maintaining good oral health during treatment


Before beginning orthodontic treatment, patients should receive a thorough oral examination and professional cleaning from their dentist. Your dentist needs to determine that your teeth, bone, and gum tissue is healthy enough for orthodontic treatment. Permanent damage could result from attempting to move teeth when there is an underlying oral health issue.


All orthodontic treatment modalities require the patient to follow the treatment protocols provided by their doctor. This is particularly true for clear aligners because the patient can remove them completely which creates the possibility of:

  • Not wearing the aligners consistently enough which is more stressful on the teeth
  • Wearing the aligners out of order (very dangerous)
  • Advancing in the treatment before the teeth have had a chance to stabilize
  • Skipping check-ins

At-home treatment is essentially exactly the same as in-office treatment in the sense that a doctor can only help if the patient upholds their end of the deal. That means showing up to check-ins and diligently following treatment protocols.


Just as it is important to receive a thorough exam from your dentist before beginning aligner therapy treatment, it is equally important to keep up routine dental visits during treatment.

All orthodontic treatments involve a degree of risk. And all orthodontic treatments require the patient to follow treatment protocols. Of all the treatment modalities, clear aligner therapy is particularly reliant on patient compliance to minimize the risk of potential adverse effects.

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