Clear aligner

Clear aligner treatment FAQs

Have you seen the social media ads for mail-order teeth alignment? They have seen a huge rise in popularity recently as people look for orthodontic work at a lower cost.  You might look at the clear trays used by these companies and wonder if they are any different than the clear aligner trays you get from your dentist.

Direct-to-consumer orthodontics is defineitly a different product, one where a lot of mistakes can happen since no one is checking that the process is going correctly.  Orthodontics is a highly technical speciality of dentistry which requires years of study to ensure mistakes don't happen, allowing patients to do this without supervision risks permanent, irreversible damage, which can be very expensive to fix.

Firstly, the mail-order companies ask you to take an impression of your teeth, without teaching you proper impression technique, full anatomical coverage and how to check for errors.  Taking a good impression is still challenging to an experienced dentist who takes them every day.  You should not be responsible for taking your own impressions if you don't know what you are doing.

Before getting orthodontic treatment it is mandatory to check your oral hygiene, gum and dental health, bone levels and health, and to check the roots of the teeth with an x-ray.  A dentist who fails to do a proper assessment before undergoing orthodontic treatment will lose any litigous action from the patient if anything unexpected occurs.  However, the mail-order companies relieve themselves of any responsibility if anything goes wrong by allowing you to sign your right to complain away, and they may not help you if it impacts their profit margin.

Next, the company uses the impression to develop clear trays, just like your dentist would. The trays they make are often not part of a progressive series and stay the same for your entire treatment, moving teeth into potentially dangerous positions.

Orthodontic treatment from your dentist may look similar, but it is far safer.  It is often likened to leaving your child home alone versus getting a baby-sitter, of course getting a baby-sitter is more expensive, but they are there to make sure your child doesn’t get hurt.  It is the orthodontist's job to ensure the treatment goes as planned and anything unexpected is remedied immediately: with no orthodontist, anything can go wrong.

At Stuart Steven Dental Practice you are carefully evaluated before beginning treatment, and you are closely monitored during every stage.  You receive new aligners every few weeks to take your treatment as far as it can go without damaging your teeth, keeping your teeth within the limits of the bone and gum, and ensuring the end result is stable, functional, comfortable and aesthetic.



This post in December 2021 was very popular amongst orthodontists, and spurred anger and frustration within the community due to the lack of patient safety, and disregard for patients health.

Moving wobbly teeth is strictly forbidden without thorough history and examination of the bone and the gums, since there must be a reason they are wobbly.  Moving wobbly teeth can very quickly result in pulling the teeth out of the bone entirely, allowing them to simply fall out.

In their response, they do not mention checking the health of the gums and bone, or even going to the dentist first to ensure the teeth are safe to move.

Taking a static scan or impression does not account for wobbly teeth, how much they move, and in which direction they can move.  If this patient is unlucky this treatment could go wrong very quickly and the patient’s front teeth fall out.

Before undergoing treatment the patient will sign their right to complain away, meaning there is no avenue for the patient to go down except pay £5000 for implants to replace the lost teeth if she is unlucky.  Not a risk that we should take!

Slightly, but not for long.  The smooth aligners are not harmful to the inside of your mouth, but you do feel pressure it puts on your teeth.  This is a good sign that the aligners are working at transforming your smile as the bone needs to soften to allow the teeth to move.  Patients have likened it to having a bruise around each tooth, that only lasts 2-3 days.

For the early days, you can utilise minor pain medication, such as ibuprofen or paracetamol, to help alleviate the discomfort, and sticking to a soft diet if necessary.  It is normal to feel temporary discomfort when you wear or change the aligners for the first few days.  Please contact your dentist if you are having continued pain during your orthodontic treatment.

Yes.  As your aligners gradually shift your teeth into their proper position, your gums and bone are re-forming around each tooth as it moves.  The bone will be soft, so the teeth will be mobile which can be worrying to see for the first time, but has to happen or the teeth wont align.  When we stop moving the tooth the bone will harden and the tooth will feel solid once again.

Your initial consultation to discuss treatment options is free!  You can call us at 0131 229 7899 or use the contact form at the bottom of the page to send us an enquiry and we will contact you as soon as possible to arrange your free consultation.

Depending on the complexity of your case we can offer full clear aligner treatment from £2,000 to £4,000.  We think of orthodontic treatment as an “investment in yourself, your smile, and your dental health”  rather than a “cost”.  We have flexible 0% finance options available (subject to a credit check) to help make the treatment as affordable as you like.

This price includes clinical photographs, X-rays, a thorough clinical and orthodontic exam, a bespoke treatment plan and outcome simulation, a full set of aligners, 4-8 weekly review appointments, case refinements until you are satisfied with the result, and retainers at the end of treatment.

After your consultation , to adequately assess your teeth, jaws, and bone we book a 45min long assessment, and your case will be thoroughly planned over the next 4 weeks.  A non-refundable deposit of £250 is required before this appointment is booked, which will be taken off the final treatment cost if you choose to go ahead with investing in your smile with orthodontic treatment.

Treatment length will depend on your personal circumstances and the complexity of your treatment.  For most adults, treatment time is just under one year.

It is important to speak with your dentist about how your situation and treatment goals fit into an orthodontic treatment program, and how long it could take.  After your case has been planned we can give you an accurate estimate how long the treatment will take.

Of course, the aligners will only work if they are pushing your teeth, if you take them out often your treatment will be much longer.

Patients typically return every 4 to 8 weeks to ensure the treatment is progressing as planned, and to receive their next sets of clear aligners.


Your teeth will only be able to move 1mm per month.  It will not be immediately noticeable to yourself, especially day-to-day.  However, throughout the months of treatment, your new smile will become more and more defined and eventually your friends and family will ask if anything has changed, and give you complements on your new smile.


Because the aligners are made of clear plastic, they are pretty much invisible. People would have to look really hard at your teeth to spot them.  Most people will never know you are wearing them unless you tell or show them.  Of course, you need to take really good care of your teeth and the aligners, since they can get stained and give off an odour if they are not cleaned properly.


My dentist mentioned “attachments", what are they and why would I need them for my orthodontic treatment?  Will anyone notice them?
Your Invisalign treatment may require small tooth-coloured buttons that are attached to your teeth.  These shapes serve as handles, giving the aligners something to grip on to in order to move your teeth.  Clear aligners fit smoothly and tightly around them, so they’re barely noticeable.

While not everyone who uses Invisalign clear aligners will need attachments, if you need them, your dentist will attach them to your teeth at the start of or during your treatment and remove them when they are no longer needed.

Depending on the movements needed to treat your smile some aligners may only require 1 week of wear, while and others may require 2 or 3.  It is customary to wear the first 3 aligners for 2 weeks each to slowly initiate the tooth movement to make it more comfortable.


You must wear your aligners for a minimum of 8 continuous hours or they will not move.  You should not take them out for longer than 45 minutes to eat and clean your teeth before reinserting them.  In total you must wear your aligners for 22 hours per day, and should only take them out to eat, drink, brush and floss.

Wearing your aligners for any less than 22 hours per day reduces their effectiveness.  If you are going to wear your lingers for less than 22 hours per day, then ceramic ceramic braces may be better for you.


If you lose or break an aligner, let your dentist know immediately. Your dentist will work with you to ensure you stay on-track with your treatment plan, which may involve wearing a previous set of aligners, your next set of aligners, or ordering replacements aligners.


Dental experts agree that if you are sick and can’t wear your aligners the required amount of time for a few days, that it won’t disrupt your treatment long-term.  Try to wear them as much as possible and if you notice that your aligners don’t fit correctly anymore, you may need to go back to an earlier set of aligners.

In addition, if you are not wearing your aligners the prescribed amount of time, then don’t move up to the next set of aligners either.  Keep your dentist informed on what is happening so they can adjust your treatment plan accordingly.


All aligners and retainers must be ordered through your dentist, as they are considered a prescription item. Please contact your dentist directly if you need to order a replacement.


No, none!  Since clear aligners are removable there are no food restrictions at all, so you do not have to worry about damaging them with hard or sticky foods.  You may want to be a little easy on your teeth after each new set of aligners though, because your teeth may be a little uncomfortable while adjusting.

As you need to wear them for 22 hours per day, and are forced to limit snacking many of our patients say this has actually served as a tool for weight loss!

Keep in mind, though, that you will need to brush your teeth after eating before you put the aligners back in.  If you eat a food that will be very difficult to brush out (corn on the cob, popcorn, spinach), make sure you have enough time to clean thoroughly before wearing the aligners again.

Yes, you must only drink water while wearing the clear aligners.  If you drink tea or coffee with the trays in, they can discolour or hold the drink in contact with your teeth for longer, causing greater discolouration.  Most importantly of all, NEVER drink sweet or sugary drinks with the trays in.  The sugar solution will sit in the tray and before you know it your lovely straight teeth will need fillings


Yes, which is why it’s important to brush after every meal, before placing your aligners back in your mouth.


To clean your aligners brush and rinse them in lukewarm water and using the aligner cleaning crystals or soap.  Never use hot water on your trays, as it could melt or soften the plastic.  You can find these aligner cleaning tablets online.

It’s important that you brush your teeth after each meal before re-inserting your aligners to maintain good oral hygiene.


To avoid discolouration, odours, and a buildup of bacteria follow these tips for how to clean aligner trays:

Each morning take your aligners out and rinse them well, clean both your teeth and the aligners with a soft-bristled toothbrush.  Make sure you do this every evening as well, but before you go to bed soak the aligners with a denture cleaner or aligner cleaning crystals

To prevent dry saliva and plaque from building up, make sure you rinse your aligners every time you take them out of your mouth.


Chewing gum while wearing aligners is not advised as gum can stick to aligners. It is recommended that aligners be removed for all meals and snacks, including chewing gum.


We do not recommend smoking while wearing Invisalign aligners because it can stain them very badly.


The vast majority of patients report no effect on speech. However, as with traditional orthodontic appliances, there is an initial adjustment period associated with having something new in the mouth.  It may take a couple of days for your tongue to get used to having your aligners in your mouth, and you may have a slight lisp, but this should disappear quickly.


The vast majority of patients report no effect on their ability to play, but it may feel weird and unusual at the start.  The clear aligners should not distort the sound of your instrument as they are made of a smooth plastic that coves your teeth evenly, and won’t get in the way of your lips and airway.


You should take out your clear aligners for any sport that requires a mouthguard.  Any sports that don’t require a mouthguard are fine to continue wearing your clear aligners.

Since your teeth are moving you may need a new mouthguard every few months, please let your dentist know if your current mouthguard no longer fits, and a new one can be made to keep your teeth safe.


Chewies – Chewies are another product that can help you with switching the aligners in and out. You can usually get them 2 in a pack.  They are a must for any aligner treatment.

Orthodontic Wax – Even though aligners don't have metal or ceramic wings, you can sometime still experience so discomfort from the aligners.  You can place the wax on any areas that are rubbing your cheeks or gums,  or smooth them down with a nail file.

Aligner Retrieval Tools – Usually there is a learning curve to learn the smoothest way to get the aligners in and out of your mouth and there are tools available that can make it a lot easier to get the aligners on and off your teeth and to make sure it is positioned properly.  Look for one that is made of surgical stainless steel so it is easy to keep clean and will last you a long time.

Travel Oral Hygiene Kit/Storage Case Combo – Probably the most important accessory for your clear aligners is a storage case that also doubles as an oral hygiene kit.  You are wearing the aligners for 22 hours and will be taking them in and out at different times of the day so being prepared is key.  You need a discrete place to store the aligners when you are not wearing them and you need to also have on hand all your cleaning products and tools because you need to clean not only your teeth and gums every time you take the aligners out, but also the aligners themselves.  To have all this in a compact travel kit you can take everywhere will make your life so much easier.

Cleansing Towelettes and Sprays – If you are looking for quick ways to clean your aligners and freshen them up, you can buy cleansing towelettes that you can simply wipe your aligners quickly without the need to rinse them out. If you prefer a spray to towelettes, you can get an aligner and retainer cleaner spray.

Cleaning Crystals – As well as brushing the trays you can purchase packs of aligner cleaning crystals.  You place the trays in water, mix in the crystals, and let them sit for about 15 minutes. Take them out, brush the aligners, rinse them in warm water, and voila! Clean aligners!

This really depends on you.  For best results, you need to follow all the instructions of your dentist, making sure you wear your aligners every day for the prescribed amount of time.

With any type of orthodontic treatment, you will need to wear retainers after your clear aligner treatment. This will help keep your teeth in their position permanently.  If you follow the instructions to the letter you can be assured that your smile will be permanent.


Just like with ceramic braces, the end of your treatment doesn’t necessarily mean that your teeth will be perfectly straight for the rest of your life.  It is strongly recommend that you wear a retainer even after the completion of your aligners work to prevent your teeth from moving back to their original position over a long period of time. The more drastic the correction, the more likely that you’ll need to wear a retainer as much as possible.

At the start you must wear your retainers full time for a year, and then you can start wearing them at night time only.  As you get older you can start wearing the retainers less and less.  If you feel that the retainer is tight, it means your teeth have moved and you must wear it more often.

While there are many different types of retainers, the best retainers on the market are Invisalign’s Vivera retainers.  Vivera retainers were specifically designed for use after clear aligner treatment, and are made from a proprietary material 30% stronger than other leading clear retainer materials which helps you to keep your new smile. 


If you lose or break your retainers, get in touch with your dentist immediately.  The longer you leave your smile unprotected without a retainer, the more likely your teeth are to move back to it's original position.


Dental Plans | Stuart Steven BDS
Dental Implants | Stuart Steven Edinburgh
Virtual Tour
Opening Hours
  • Mon
  • Tues
  • Wed-Thu
  • Fri
Facebook Feed
Request A Call Back

To comply with data protection regulations (2018), we are unable to store and use your information unless you give us your permission. Please select Yes to allow this. View our data protection policy for details.