Even with a system as simple as Invisalign, orthodontic treatment is a big commitment across the board. It’s exciting to begin the journey towards a straighter, healthier smile, but it’s also completely normal (and understandable!) to feel a little unsure about the process, particularly if you don’t know much about Invisalign. Here at Ollins Orthodontics, we want you to feel confident in your decision to improve your oral health with our practice. To help you prepare for your upcoming treatment, we’ve put together this survival guide to Invisalign! 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 clear aligners, keep reading below!

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

What is Invisalign?

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

How does Invisalign work?

Once our doctors have determined that Invisalign will work for your smile, we’ll begin the process of custom designing the aligners. Using a highly-detailed 3D scan of your teeth and gums, we’ll 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 an indication of how long we expect your treatment to take. You may even get a special sneak peek of 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 still comfortable. The total number of aligners worn during the treatment process varies from patient to patient, from as few as 18 to as many as 30, or even more! 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’ll play a big part in the treatment process. Because Invisalign aligners are removable, it’s up to you to wear them as directed. That means wearing them for 20-22 hours each day, throughout treatment, in order to get the results you desire. Aligners will also need to be switched our regularly, based on your treatment plan. This tends to be every 1-2 weeks, in order to keep up with the movement of your teeth. Regular check-ups are an essential part of the treatment process, too, so you’ll be scheduled for follow-up appointments at our Nutley office every six to eight weeks or so.

Ollins assistant scanning patient's teeth

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

There are several ways for you to clean your aligners effectively, and an almost equal number of methods to avoid.


Rinse your aligners when you remove them, because 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. The custom fit of Invisalign aligners means harmful particles can get trapped against your teeth. A good oral hygiene routine can help remove them.

Brush your aligners gently and carefully. 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 cause odors as well.

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

Leave your aligners exposed or unprotected when they’re not in your mouth. This can expose them to harmful germs and bacteria. Keep them in their case, and 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.

Maintaining an oral hygiene routine with Invisalign

Oral hygiene is important for everyone, but it becomes even more essential when you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment. Fortunately, it couldn’t be simpler to keep your teeth and gums clean with Invisalign. Remove your aligner before brushing and flossing the way you normally would, and 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.

Invisalign doesn’t come with any of the food restrictions that traditional braces do, but we 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. Ollins putting attachments on a patient's teeth

The best candidates for Invisalign

Invisalign works well for many of the most common orthodontic issues in teens and adults. Cases that are more severe or complex may respond better to more traditional treatment methods. When you schedule a FREE consultation with us, we’ll be able to determine if Invisalign is a good fit for you.

After your Invisalign treatment is complete

Even after orthodontic treatment has been completed, your teeth will retain memories of their previous place in your mouth. Over time, they tend to begin drifting back towards these original positions over time. That’s why retainers are so important! Once you finish the treatment process, our doctors will provide you with a retainer. As long as you wear this retainer as directed, it will help prevent this kind of drifting and keep your newly straightened smile in place.

The clear choice at Ollins Orthodontics

Here at Ollins Orthodontics, we want your entire orthodontic journey to be as stress-free and positive as possible. While your Invisalign aligners will take a little getting used to, with a little patience and practice, they’ll be just one more part of your daily routine in no time! Our team is always here to help if you have any questions or concerns about your treatment plan.

If you’re in Nutley or the surrounding communities, we’d love the opportunity to tell you more about how Invisalign can change your smile – and your life! To take the first step towards a beautiful, healthy smile, give us a call today to schedule a FREE exam!