What to Expect During Your Clear Aligner Treatment: A Step-by-Step Guide

Invisalign® clear aligners were a revolutionary orthodontic treatment when they hit the market in the 90’s and have stayed a favorite since! But other clear aligner brands have joined the game and are gaining popularity too (like Spark™ clear aligners)!

In fact, there’s been an increase in clear aligner wear among teens and adults since 2020. With clear aligners offering a virtually invisible, comfortable, and discreet treatment, it’s no wonder there’s 1.6 million smiles being transformed by clear aligners right now – and the number keeps growing!

If you’re considering Invisalign or Spark aligners for your smile, here’s what you can expect during your treatment – step by step.

Step 1: Scheduling a complimentary consultation with an experienced orthodontist

The first step in the Spark or Invisalign process is to schedule a consultation with an certified orthodontist. While general dentists may offer Invisalign or other brands of clear aligner treatment too, an orthodontist has the specialized training to diagnose and treat your orthodontic condition(s) starting at the root!  

Our team of highly-experienced orthodontists (Dr. Nease, Dr. Thomas, Dr. Higginbotham, or Dr. Horvath) are all certified Invisalign providers and highly-experienced with Spark aligners too! What does that mean for you? You have a choice between 2 popular and effective clear orthodontic treatments with us!

When you schedule a complimentary consultation at any of our 5 orthodontic offices in the Upstate (South Carolina), one of our highly-experienced orthodontists will evaluate your teeth, jaws, and help determine whether clear aligners are the right treatment option for you. Included in your initial exam, are diagnostic photos and digital x-rays which will show us the complete picture of your dental and orthodontic health. 

Step 2: Creating a custom treatment plan

Using the images, x-rays, and notes from your orthodontic exam, your orthodontist and our friendly team will then present to you your custom smile transformation plan! This comprehensive plan will break down your treatment details, including the length of treatment, cost, and expected results.

If you decide to move forward with clear aligner treatment, our team will get started on your treatment process right away. The first part is taking some digital scans of your teeth using our iTero intraoral scanner. You’ll be able to see a cool 3D image of your teeth and gums being built as we take pictures using a handheld wand. This process takes about 5 minutes to complete and while your orthodontist reviews and solidifies your personalized treatment plan, we’ll be able to show you a simulated image of your expected smile results!

Step 3: Receiving your clear aligners

Once your treatment plan is finalized, your scans will be sent straight to the Invisalign or Ormco™ (Spark) labs from the iTero scanner! 

In the labs, expert technicians will create a series of custom aligners that are designed just for your smile. (There’s no cookie-cutter treatment here!) Once your series of aligners come in, we’ll give you a call to come pick them up and walk you through instructions for wearing your aligners for the best possible smile results. 

Treatment with clear aligners takes an average of about 12 to 18 months, depending on the complexity of your case. While everyone’s experience is unique, most people find that clear aligners are a comfortable and convenient way to straighten their teeth and achieve the smile they’ve always wanted!

Step 4: Wearing your clear aligners

Once you’ve got your aligners and a welcome packet filled with resources, you’re ready to rock and roll.  

Wearing your aligners is easy and comfortable! Simply insert the aligners over your teeth and wear them for at least 22 hours a day, removing them only to eat, brush, and floss. Because the aligners are made of smooth plastic, they won’t irritate your cheeks and gums like traditional braces can. Every 1 to 2 weeks, you’ll move on to the next set of aligners in your plan. Many clear aligner patients start seeing results within 6 weeks!

Step 5: Monitoring your progress

Throughout your treatment, you’ll have regular check-ins with your orthodontist to monitor your progress. These checkup appointments happen every 10-12 weeks. Your orthodontist will complete a fit check to see if your teeth are progressing as they projected. And our team may take additional scans or make any necessary treatment adjustments.

If you’ve got a busy lifestyle and prefer virtual appointments, we offer virtual check-ins via the Dental Monitoring app! 

How does it work? You’ll get a notification when your progress photos are due, set up your dental scan box with your phone, snap a few teeth selfies with your aligners in, and upload them to the app. Voilà!  (You can also use this app to communicate with our team if you have any questions or concerns about your aligners or treatment.) Check out this blog here to prepare for your first virtual appointment!

Step 6: Finishing your treatment

Once you’ve finished your last set of aligners, your treatment is complete! And now it’s time for a very important phase – retention

Wearing a retainer after orthodontic treatment is a must if you want to keep your beautiful new smile. Your retainer will hold your teeth in their new position while the ligaments and bone that holds your teeth heals from your smile journey. Retainer wear will be similar to your clear aligner wear for about the next 4-6 months – only taking them out for eating, brushing, or flossing. Then your orthodontist will let you know when you’ll be able to switch to retainer wear for nights only! 

Have more questions about the Spark or Invisalign process?

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions. 

Before you begin treatment, your orthodontist will explain everything you need to know about your wearing, cleaning and caring for your Invisalign.

Ready to start your clear way to a beautiful smile? Request your complimentary exam with us at any of our orthodontic offices in the Upstate (South Carolina). We want to help you take your smile to the Nth Degree! 

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