Survival Guide: Invisalign

The Invisalign clear aligner is one of the easiest ways to achieve a healthier, straighter smile, but orthodontic treatment of any kind is a big commitment! It’s completely normal to feel a little unsure about the process, especially if you aren’t very familiar with Invisalign. At Rhoads Orthodontic Specialist, it’s important to us that you feel confident in your decision to improve your oral health by working with our practice. To help you prepare for your upcoming treatment, we’ve put together this survival guide to Invisalign. Keep reading below to learn more about what the Invisalign system is, how it works, and how you can get the most out of your clear aligners!

(Is the Invisalign system a good fit for you? Schedule a consultation with us to find out!)

What is the Invisalign system?

Rather than using the brackets, wires, and bands that come with traditional braces, the Invisalign system consists of a series of clear, removable aligners that gently move your teeth into alignment over time. These are custom-designed to fit snugly and comfortably over your own teeth. The removability and near invisibility of Invisalign aligners gives the system a freedom and flexibility that makes it an excellent alternative to traditional braces for many patients.

How does the Invisalign system work?

Once Dr. Rhoads has determined that Invisalign will work for your smile, we’ll begin the process of designing the aligners. Our talented team uses a highly-detailed 3D scan of your teeth and gums to map out a precise, personalized treatment plan for you. This plan includes the exact movements we want your teeth to make, and will also give us an indication of how long we expect treatment to take. You may even get the chance to sneak a peek at what your smile will look like once treatment is complete!

Your custom aligners will be created from Invisalign’s special SmartTrack® material, which is strong but will still fit comfortably in your mouth. The total number of aligners worn during the treatment process varies from patient to patient, with most wearing anywhere from 18-30 aligners in total. The average treatment time tends to be somewhere between 9 and 15 months, though this could be longer or shorter depending on your specific case.

After you’ve received your first aligner, you become an active player in the treatment process! Because Invisalign aligners are removable, not fixed like braces, it’s up to you to wear them as directed by Dr. Rhoads. Aligners should be worn for 20-22 hours every day throughout the course of treatment. A failure to do so can lead to longer treatment times and interfere with your results, so you’ll want to be sure to comply with this requirement.

Aligners will also need to be switched our regularly, based on the treatment plan Dr. Rhoads has customized for you. This tends to be about every week, in order to keep up with the movement of your teeth. Regular check-ups are an essential part of the treatment process, too, so we’ll schedule you for follow-up appointments at our Cranberry Township office every eight to ten weeks or so. This is less frequent than appointments required with braces, to best fit your busy schedule.

Dr. Rhoad's talking to a patient

The DO’s and DON’Ts of cleaning Invisalign aligners

There are many ways to clean your aligners effectively, and an almost equal number of methods you should 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. This is important because the custom fit of Invisalign aligners means harmful particles can get trapped against your teeth. A good oral hygiene routine can help remove this debris and keep your mouth healthy and clean!

Brush your aligners gently and carefully using dishsoap. 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, and some can even cause odors.

Use toothpaste to clean your aligners. Many brands have abrasive agents that can dull your aligners. These can also create small openings for harmful bacteria.

Leave your aligners exposed or unprotected when they’re not in your mouth, as this can expose them to germs and bacteria. Keep them in their case when you’re not wearing them. Be sure to 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.

Your oral hygiene routine with the Invisalign system

Oral hygiene is always important, but when you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment, it becomes even more essential to maintain it. Fortunately, it couldn’t be easier to keep your teeth and gums clean with Invisalign! Simply remove your aligner before brushing and flossing the way you normally would. That’s all there is to it! We recommend that all our patients brush at least twice a day for two minutes each time, and floss every night before bed for the best results.

While Invisalign doesn’t come with any of the food restrictions that traditional braces do, we still encourage all patients to avoid consuming too much added sugar in general. If you’re not brushing and flossing regularly enough, it can increase your chances of developing cavities and tooth decay.

Dr. Rhoad's working on a patient's teeth

The best candidates for the Invisalign system

Invisalign is designed to work well for many of the most common orthodontic issues in teens and adults. For cases that are more severe or complex, traditional treatment methods like braces may be a better choice. A consultation with Dr. Rhoads will be able to determine if Invisalign is a good fit for you.

After your Invisalign treatment has been completed

Even after the active phase of orthodontic treatment has been completed, your teeth will still retain memories of their previous place in your mouth. Over time, they’re prone to drifting back towards these original positions. That’s why retainers are an important part of treatment, too! Once you finish your treatment, Dr. Rhoads will provide you with a retainer. As long as you wear this retainer as directed, it will help to prevent this kind of natural drifting and keep your newly straightened smile in place.

Invisalign is the clear choice at Rhoads Orthodontic Specialist

Our team is committed to creating an orthodontic journey for you that is as stress-free and positive as possible. Just like anything new, Invisalign aligners will take a little getting used to, but with a little time (and patience!) they’ll be just one more part of your daily routine in no time. We’re always here to help if you have any questions or concerns about your treatment plan.

If you’re in Cranberry Township or any of the surrounding communities, we’d love to meet you and give you more information on how Invisalign can change your smile – and your life! To take the first step towards a beautifully aligned smile, give us a call today to schedule an initial consultation.