Are Clear Aligners the Same as Invisalign?

Nov 8, 2023 | Aligners

As the quest for perfect smiles continues, the use of clear aligners has become increasingly popular. But are all clear aligner treatments the same?

Understanding Clear Aligners

Clear aligners are orthodontic devices made from transparent plastic-like materials. They are custom-made to fit tightly over your teeth and can be removed for eating, brushing, and flossing. The concept of clear aligners was first introduced in 1997 by Align Technology, with the launch of Invisalign.

Clear aligners have gained popularity due to their discreet nature and ease of use. Compared to traditional metal braces, aligners can be more comfortable as they eliminate poking wires and brackets. Although the teeth can still be tender as they begin to move, the lips and cheeks tend to be less irritated as the plastic aligner is smoother than the metal or clear braces.

Clear aligners are also less noticeable than braces and are often the preferred choice for adult patients who either never had braces or are seeking to realign teeth that have moved since having braces as an adolescent.

An Insight Into Invisalign

Invisalign is a popular brand of clear aligners. Since its introduction, Invisalign has revolutionized the field of orthodontics by offering patients an aesthetically pleasing and comfortable alternative to traditional braces. Developed by Align Technology, Invisalign was the first orthodontic system to utilize transparent aligners and make them available to the public. As the clear aligner industry continues to grow, Invisalign trays remain the market leader with the largest market share, which means there is a high probability that your orthodontist provides Invisalign as an option for your orthodontic treatment. However, they may also offer other clear aligner brands as alternatives.

Deciphering the World of Clear Aligners: Invisalign and Beyond

When it comes to clear aligners, many people often find themselves in a brand comparison battle, with Invisalign being a common name that pops up. However, what truly matters isn’t necessarily the brand of the aligner, but rather the expertise of the professional who is planning your treatment. This is why I cannot stress enough the importance of entrusting your aligner treatment to an orthodontic specialist, as opposed to a direct-to-consumer company where an orthodontist is typically not overseeing your treatment.

Remember, the success of your clear aligner treatment hinges on the expertise of the orthodontic specialist handling your case, rather than the brand of aligner you choose.

Am I a candidate for clear aligners?

In my hands as an orthodontist with significant experience in treating patients with clear aligners (Invisalign or otherwise), most orthodontic problems that can be addressed with braces can be addressed with clear aligners yielding the same great results in about the same treatment time. Of course, this varies depending on a doctor’s experience and clinical preference. Everyone’s orthodontic needs are unique, but generally, clear aligners may be effective for:

  • Overbite or deep bite – when the upper front teeth extend too far over the lower front teeth
  • Open bite – the upper and lower front teeth do not overlap when biting down
  • Gaps in teeth – bringing widely spaced teeth together to close or narrow gaps
  • Crowded teeth – not enough space in the mouth for teeth to come in well aligned

In some cases, they may also be suited to treat more complex conditions such as:

  • Underbite (also known as Anterior Crossbite) – when the lower front teeth come ahead of the upper front teeth when biting down
  • Crossbite (or Posterior Crossbite) – when the upper back teeth are narrower than/fall inside the lower back teeth when biting down. Posterior crossbite typically results from the upper jaw being narrower than the lower jaw.

Taking the Next Step

Ready to take the next step towards your perfect smile and straighter teeth? Scheduling a complimentary initial consultation with True North Orthodontics is a great place to start. They can evaluate your teeth, discuss your treatment options, and answer any questions you may have about clear aligners like Invisalign. If you are a candidate for clear aligner orthodontic treatment, Dr. Hammer plans your orthodontic treatment digitally from an intraoral scan so that a series of custom clear aligner trays can be made to move your teeth to their optimal positions.

In summary, Invisalign is just one brand of clear aligners. Invisalign is simply the most well-known brand of clear aligners, and the success of your clear aligner treatment hinges on the expertise of the orthodontic specialist handling your case as well as your dedication to wearing your clear aligners as the patient, rather than the brand of aligner you choose.

Dr. Christine Hammer

Dr. Christine Hammer


A Duluth native, Dr. Hammer is extremely proud to be able to create beautiful smiles in her hometown community.

She attended Holy Rosary and Marshall School here in Duluth, is a graduate of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, and completed both her dental school education and orthodontic residency at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. Dr. Hammer has practiced orthodontics in Duluth since graduating residency in 2015. She completed the rigorous process of board certification through the American Board of Orthodontics, holding herself to the highest standard to be able to provide the best results to her patients.

Dr. Hammer lives in Duluth with her husband, Kyle, and their three children – Ben, Stella and Luke (and their furry Goldendoodle child, Murphy). She enjoys long distance running, days at the cabin and downhill skiing. She can’t wait to meet you and help you achieve your best smile at True North Orthodontics!