Do Nighttime Aligners Work?
If you’ve watched TV or been online lately, you might have seen an ad for an invisible aligner that you only have to wear at night. No muss, no fuss. Quick results. Sounds great, right?
Not so fast.
When you read the details, you’ll find that nighttime aligners don’t work for the majority of people. Why not? Because nighttime aligners are meant only for VERY mild spacing or crowding that might take approximately 3-5 aligners total. Otherwise you need traditional braces or Invisalign. Let’s discover why.
Nighttime Aligners: Do They Work?
To understand why nighttime aligners are usually ineffective at tooth movement greater than .5 mm, it’s important to first know how teeth move. Braces and/or aligners compress the periodontal ligament that surrounds a tooth root. This space is about .25mm per tooth. Next, the compressive action causes bone to resorb on one pressure side of the root and bone to deposit on the opposite side/tension of the tooth. Over time, the teeth gradually realign based on where the force is placed (it’s based on physics). Decades of research with the pressure/tension theory has determined that teeth move the best physiologically with light continuous pressure.
Further, it takes about 20-22 hours per day of light pressure to resorb and deposit bone, thereby allowing teeth to move. If you only wear aligners at night, you are only compressing the ligament space and not actually changing the bone around the tooth roots. This will not allow any significant tooth movement. I would expect minor movement (.5 mm and less = .25 mm per tooth) with nighttime only wear. With braces or aligners worn 20-22 hours per day, we can straighten crooked teeth, close gaps between teeth, correct overbites and underbites, and much more.
If braces and aligners only work if you have continual pressure, then how can companies claim that nighttime aligners work? Because they specify that nighttime trays only work with people who have very mild dental spacing or crowding.
Wearing an invisible aligner only at nighttime to correct your teeth is like having a broken foot and wearing a cast only when you sleep.
You might wear a retainer at night to keep teeth in place after you’ve had your teeth corrected, but retainers aren’t intended to actually shift teeth into a different position. They’re used to make sure your teeth settle in place permanently.
Nighttime Aligners Lack Peer Reviews
There’s another problem with nighttime aligners: No scientific studies have shown that they are effective. On the other hand, braces and Invisalign have been studied and reviewed by experts, and mounds of research show they work. At our offices, we trust these methods to correct dental problems because they’ve proven effective over time. Your dental care is too important to try any modes of correction that haven’t been evaluated and proven as a viable and safe option.
Why Cheaper Aligners May Cost You More
Some discount aligners can even make your teeth worse and cost you more in the end. These companies often cut corners and downplay the importance of regular check-ins with an orthodontist. Without periodically checking the progress of your teeth, you don’t know if the trays are working like they are supposed to, and you can’t address any problems along the way. Then, you’ll have to pay to have any mistakes corrected, so those cheaper aligners aren’t such a great bargain. You should always have regular evaluations by your orthodontist when you are wearing braces or Invisalign.
Nighttime Aligners: Don’t Fall for the Hype
You can’t take shortcuts with dental care and expect good results. There’s no substitute for ongoing, individualized care from an orthodontist who uses proven methods to correct problems with your teeth.
If you would like a consultation to see if braces or Invisalign would improve your smile, please contact our offices today. We will explain every step in your orthodontic care. We will explain the payment options and help you find options that will work the best and fastest for your unique situation.