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Survival Guide: Invisalign

Article by Dr. Leaver & Dr. Gardner

Orthodontic treatment is a big commitment, even with an option as simple as Invisalign. While it’s exciting to begin the journey towards a healthier smile, it’s also completely normal to feel a little unsure, especially if you don’t know much about the system. Here at Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics, we want you to be confident in your decision to improve your oral health. To help you prepare for the upcoming process, we’ve put together this Invisalign Survival Guide, so if you’re ready to learn more about what the Invisalign system is, how it works, and how you can get the most out of your aligners, keep reading below!

(Are you a good candidate for Invisalign? Schedule a free consultation with us to find out!)

What is the Invisalign clear aligner system?

Rather than brackets, wires, and bands, the Invisalign system uses a series of clear, removable aligners to move your teeth into alignment over time. These aligners are made of a special thermoplastic resin that’s designed to fit snugly and comfortably over your teeth. Because Invisalign aligners are nearly invisible, as well as removable, they offer a freedom and flexibility that makes them an excellent alternative to traditional braces.

Leaver ortho assistant with patient

How does the Invisalign system work?

Once Dr. Leaver or Dr. Gardner have determined that Invisalign is a good fit for your smile, we’ll begin the process of custom designing aligners that will fit snugly but comfortably over your own teeth. A highly-detailed 3D scan of your teeth and gums will be taken, and we’ll use this to map out a precise, personalized treatment plan for you. This plan will include the exact movements we want your teeth to make, and will also give us some indication of how long we expect your treatment to take. We may even be able to show you a special preview of what your smile will look like once treatment is complete!

Using this same scan, your custom aligners will be created from Invisalign’s special SmartTrack® material. The total number of aligners worn during the treatment process can vary a great deal, from as few as 12 to as many as 48. The treatment time will also vary from case to case, but the average tends to be somewhere between 5 and 15 months.

Once you receive your first aligner, your compliance comes into play in a major way. Because Invisalign aligners are removable, it’s up to you to wear them as directed. That means keeping them in for 20-22 hours each day, throughout the course of treatment, in order to get the results you desire. You’ll also need to switch your aligners out based on the plan our doctors have laid out for you, generally every 1-2 weeks. Regular check-ups will be part of the treatment process, too, so we’ll schedule check-ups for you at one of our offices every four to eight weeks or so.

Cleaning your Invisalign aligners

There are quite a few ways to clean your aligners effectively, and an equal number of methods to avoid!


  • Rinse your aligners when you remove them, since dry saliva and plaque can breed bacteria.
  • Soak your aligners using denture cleaner or Invisalign cleaning crystals to keep your trays clear and sanitized.
  • Brush and floss your teeth before you put your aligner back in. Since Invisalign aligners are designed to custom-fit your teeth, harmful particles can get trapped between your teeth and your aligners. A good oral hygiene routine can help
  • Brush your aligners gently and carefully, as brushing too hard can scratch your aligners and leave visible etchings.


  • Eat or drink anything but water while you’re wearing your aligners. Many foods and drinks can stain or discolor your aligners. Some can cause odors as well.
  • Use toothpaste to clean your aligners. Many brands have abrasive agents that can dull your aligners or create small openings for bacteria.
  • Leave your aligners exposed or unprotected when they are not in your mouth. This can expose them to harmful germs and bacteria, so rinse them, soak them, and then rinse them again before returning them to your mouth.
  • Soak your aligners in any sort of mouthwash OR put them in heated liquid of any kind.

Oral hygiene routine with Invisalign

It’s easy to keep your teeth and gums clean with Invisalign! Simply remove the aligner before brushing and flossing the way you normally would. Oral hygiene is important for everyone, but it’s especially imperative when you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment. We recommend that all our patients brush at least twice a day for two minutes each time, and floss every night before bed.

Although Invisalign doesn’t come with the food restrictions traditional braces do, you should still try to avoid consuming too much added sugar. It can set the stage for tooth decay if you aren’t brushing thoroughly and regularly enough.

The best candidates for Invisalign

Invisalign works best for most common orthodontic issues in teens and adults. We’ll be able to determine if Invisalign is a good fit for you, or if a more traditional orthodontic treatment would be better.

Dr. Leaver and a patient trying on aligners

Once your treatment is complete

Even after orthodontic treatment, your teeth retain memories of their previous place in your mouth. They tend to drift back to these original positions over time, and that’s why retainers are so important! Once your treatment process is complete, we’ll provide you with a retainer. To keep your newly straightened smile in place, you’ll need to wear this retainer as directed by our doctors.

Invisalign is the clear choice at Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics

At Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics, we want your orthodontic journey to be as stress-free and rewarding as possible! Although your Invisalign aligners will take a little getting used to, they’ll be one more part of your daily routine in no time, and we’re always here to help if you have any questions or concerns about your treatment plan.

If you’re in Las Vegas, Summerlin, or the surrounding areas, we’d love to tell you more about how Invisalign can change your smile. To take the first step towards a beautiful, healthy smile, give us a call today and schedule a FREE consultation!