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Why Wearing Your Invisalign ONLY at Night Will NOT work!

Invisalign clear braces provide discrete and effective teeth straightening without the inconveniences of traditional braces. No ugly metal brackets AND fast results? Sounds perfect right?

Advantages and flexibility of removable aligners

  • You can remove them when eating or drinking
  • They can be removed for brushing and flossing
  • Invisalign can be removed for important events like photographs at formals and graduations

However this major benefit of flexibility that removable clear aligners offer is also the major drawback.

People often remove their aligners and don’t wear them as much as they should.

Invisalign aligners work by slowly moving teeth into their new position

  • You wear each tray for 20-22 hours per day
  • Each tray (typically worn for 2 weeks) moves the teeth a fraction
  • Once the teeth are moved into their new position, the next tray is switched to
  • Gradually the teeth straighten onto the 3D planned perfect smile and bite

Clear aligners do not interfere with your daily life. You can take out the trays morning and night when brushing or flossing. You can also remove them when you eat so no food gets caught.

Traditional braces often have the problem of food getting caught in the wire – this can be dealt with but many patients describe it as the most frustrating part of metal braces.

A Masters thesis found that Invisalign and fixed orthodontics (metal braces) actually had a similar level of patient satisfaction. (Keith Christopher Nicholson)

Invisalign trays are so see-through! Image is “Invisalign a12” by Stella CC2.0 no modifications.

What If I wear my Invisalign trays ONLY at night?

A quick search on the internet and posts like this on reddit show lots of threads where people are wondering what would happen if they only wore their Invisalign retainers at night.

Tooth movement to straighten teeth with braces is surprisingly complex. Some of the movements are very simple like tipping a tooth forward or backward.

However there are also complex and gradual movements like impacting or ‘retruding’ teeth in and out of the jaw bone that are all part of the gradual change with Invisalign.

It is incredibly important that you wear the retainers as much as recommended, otherwise not ALL the movement needed are happening.

You still might end up with straight teeth – but if the bite is not correct you are more likely to have the teeth become crowded again.

Invisalign works by more than just tipping teeth

The way that you bite on a tray when you wear it, and the way the your teeth are NOT meeting throughout the day all contribute to the final position of the teeth.

If you do not wear the trays for the recommended times (typically 20-22 hours per day) it will NOT give the results you are after.

If there is any complex tooth movements with a particular tray, it will very likely be compromised by keeping the tray out during the day.

If there is a few hours you miss, or a forgotten evening with a tray missing – the world will not end. However frequently missing the recommended wear time will mean the teeth will not move the ways they are supposed too.

The best results for Invisalign are achieved when you

  • Wear the tray for the 20-22 hours prescribed by your dentist
  • Only drink water when the trays are in
  • Brush and floss as normal taking extra care around the attachments
  • Clean your Invisalign trays daily to keep it fresh and bacteria free
  • Rinse the tray after eating and drinking
  • If worn for the right amount of time, change the trays every 2 weeks (the average, ask your dentist of course) and stick to the schedule
  • Trash old Invisalign trays when appropriate

Maintaining The Smile after Invisalign

After your invisible braces are finished, it is very likely that your dentist will arrange a fixed or permanent retainer. Without retention your teeth are likely to return to a crowded position.

A fixed retainer is a wire that is stuck to the inside of your teeth. A removable retainer is an Invisalign style tray that you wear at night time to maintain the teeth in their position.

Find out more about which retainer is right for you here.


If you have bad breath with Invisalign, check out these tips for dealing with that stinky problem.

Nicholson, Keith Christopher, “A survey study comparing adult orthodontic patient quality of life between Invisalign and fixed appliances.” (2011). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 1060. (https://ir.library.louisville.edu/etd/1060/)

Cover image is Image is “Invisalign a8” by Stella CC2.0 no modifications. Thanks for sharing the image under CC Stella!

If your Invisalign is hurting, this resource will give you advice and tips about how to deal with that.

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