The Invisalign tooth straightening system is a miracle for many people who want to improve their smile, but don’t want or can’t use traditional braces. In fact, over 6 million people—adults and teens alike—have used it to straighten their teeth.

But tooth straightening is a slow process, and sometimes it’s hard to tell if it’s working the way it should. Read on to learn how to tell if Invisalign is tracking properly and what to do if it isn’t.

How Invisalign Works

Invisalign uses advanced 3D modeling software to take your smile from where it is now to where you want it to be. The process begins by taking a scan of the inside of your mouth and importing it into Invisalign’s software. There, your orthodontist creates a detailed plan for how each individual tooth should move over the course of treatment.

These computer models are used to create a series of nearly invisible clear plastic trays that fit around your teeth. If you wear these trays for 22-24 hours per day, your teeth will be guided into their desired positions over time (a process known as tracking). You can take the trays out to eat and brush your teeth.

How to Tell If Invisalign is Tracking Correctly

Your aligners should fit snugly against your teeth without any large and noticeable gaps. To prevent problem areas from showing up, your orthodontist will give you a couple of small foam cylinders known as chewies. You should bite down on the chewies every morning and evening while wearing your Invisalign trays to make sure your aligners continue to fit close to your teeth.

If there are noticeable gaps between your aligner and the edges of your teeth that aren’t corrected by using the chewies daily, your teeth may not be tracking well. This can be due to a number of reasons, including not wearing your aligners enough or needing to revise the tray.

What to Do If Your Invisalign Isn’t Tracking

Unfortunately, even the most careful of patients can experience problems with a gap between the Invisalign tray and their teeth. Even so, there are ways to correct the alignment and get your teeth back on track.

First, be honest with yourself: are you really wearing the aligners for 22 hours per day, or are you slacking? Your aligners will only work if you wear them enough, so if that’s why your teeth aren’t tracking, you may need to wear your previous trays again until your teeth return to their correct spots. Make sure to keep using your chewies in any problem areas.

Second, make sure your aligner hasn’t been damaged. If you grind your teeth a lot, carry it loose in a purse or backpack, or wash the trays in hot water, they may have warped and will need to be replaced.

Third, your orthodontist may need to revise your treatment plan. The modeling software is advanced, but it can’t predict every tooth movement with complete accuracy. If this is the case, your orthodontist will update the scans and order a new aligner.

Are You Ready to Try Invisalign?

Straightening your teeth with Invisalign is a worthy investment in your smile. To know for sure how to tell if Invisalign is tracking, make sure you check with your orthodontist.

If you’re considering Invisalign for the first time, Dr. Whitlock and the Whitlock Orthodontics team would love to talk with you! Schedule an appointment with us today to see which tooth straightening method is best for you.