Invisalign® clear aligners are a great way to achieve a straighter and brighter smile, but the aligner journey isn't always easy and some patients see results faster than others. One way to optimize your treatment is to ensure that your aligners are properly "tracking."
Tracking is a clinical term used to describe how well the clear aligners fit over each of your teeth. This is an important concept to understand, because if your Invisalign is not tracking then your teeth will not move as effectively. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to seat your aligners properly and fix your Invisalign tracking issues! In this blog, we'll cover:
- How to Make Sure Your Invisalign is Properly Tracking
- Why Your Invisalign is Not Tracking
- Four Solutions for Fixing Invisalign Tracking Issues
How to Make Sure Your Invisalign is Properly Tracking
Your Invisalign trays should fit closely to your teeth
If you notice a gap between your teeth and Invisalign trays, this means they may not be tracking correctly. This is problematic for treatment, as clear aligners must fit snugly over your teeth to generate the orthodontic force required to move them into new positions.
Observing your smile in the mirror is the best method for how to tell if Invisalign is tracking. When you do this, you'll be looking to make sure your aligners are:
- Completely fixed along the top and bottom rows of your teeth. They shouldn't be rocking or moving at all.
- Fitted such that you do not have any large gaps between the plastic and the surface of your tooth.
- Appropriately seated over the teeth so that they feel tight; this can often feel painful at first, especially when you change to a new set of trays.
You will also want to make sure any Invisalign attachments you’re wearing are adequately engaged. If you notice small gaps between your teeth and your aligners, you will need to take some extra steps to help them fit more snugly to your teeth.
Why Your Invisalign is Not Tracking
Non-Compliance With your Treatment Plan
There are a number of possible reasons why your Invisalign trays are not tracking, and the most common cause is failing to comply with your doctor's orders. Failing to wear your trays at least 22 hours a day is the number one reason why Invisalign doesn't work for many patients, and in extreme cases can allow your teeth to shift back to their original positions.
Many patients don't know that when your provider creates your treatment plan, they are also creating all the sets of aligners you will wear throughout your journey. Generally speaking, you will change to a new set of trays every two weeks, and if you don't wear each set for the prescribed 22 hours a day, you will risk that future sets of aligners won't fit like they are intended. And when your aligners don't fit, they won't move your teeth like they should.
Improper tracking can also be caused by switching your trays out too early or not wearing them long enough. Sometimes patients will lose their aligners, and decide to wear an older set or skip ahead to the next set. We get that life happens, but if you do lose your clear aligners, it is best to consult your provider and get their advice on what to do next rather than try and diagnose yourself.
Broken or Damaged Aligners
It stands to reason that a broken medical device would not work as intended, but it's not always obvious that your clear aligners are damaged. If you see any cracks in your trays, this is a signal that your Invisalign is damaged. But sometimes you won't be able to detect damage or subtle warping that can occur from improperly removing them or not keeping them safe and secure when they aren't in your mouth.
If they do break, they lose their structural integrity and won't move your teeth like they should. Review these tips to prevent your Invisalign trays from breaking and avoid this one cause of improper tracking.
Teeth That Move at Different Paces
If you have teeth that move slower than the others or teeth that are colliding with each other, you may experience tracking issues. When creating your treatment plan, your orthodontist will use a sophisticated computer model to help account for common variables. However, they cannot predict individual differences that you exhibit during treatment. For instance, if you have some teeth that are more stubborn than others, this can impact the movements of other teeth.
As a result, future trays might not track properly, and you and your provider may have to explore Invisalign refinements.
Sometimes, Invisalign trays can cause your teeth to bump into each other. This can negatively affect your aligners’ ability to track with your teeth. To fix this, your orthodontist may perform an interproximal reduction or IPR. This procedure gives your teeth more room to move in accordance with your treatment plan.
Top 4 Solutions for Fixing Invisalign Tracking Issues
If your Invisalign is not tracking correctly, you can try these 4 simple solutions
No one wants to deal with prolonged or delayed treatment. That’s why we’re offering 4 tips for helping you seat your aligners and get back on schedule!
1. Practice Chewing Exercises
Performing chewing exercises is a simple and easy way to help seat your aligners. While you can use Invisalign chewies to apply pressure to your trays, they aren’t very tasty or easy-to-use when you are on the go. We created Movemints® Clear Aligner Mints as an alternative to Invisalign chewies. Our aligner-friendly mints are sugar-free and sweetened with a therapeutic dose of xylitol, so they help fight Invisalign dry mouth while freshening your breath!
Thanks to their patented grooves, Movemints fit comfortably between your top and bottom trays. Using gentle pressure, you can chew on them to help seat your trays and ensure proper tracking. Repeating this process over time can also help reduce any discomfort associated with wearing Invisalign.
2. Wear Your Aligners for at Least 22 Hours a Day
Some people avoid wearing their aligners for the prescribed period of time because they have gotten gross or dirty. To avoid this issue, learn how to clean Invisalign properly and practice good oral hygiene. Rinsing your trays both before and after putting them in can help keep them fresh and clean, and this will encourage you to wear them for as long as possible!
3. Treat Soreness With Cold Foods
Switching to a new set of trays can be uncomfortable. To mitigate Invisalign pain and discomfort, you can suck on some ice cubes or treat yourself to a bowl of ice cream (without your trays in, of course!). Cold compresses also work, but make sure to cover the compress with a thin towel to protect your cheeks.
4. Switch Back to an Old Tray
If necessary, you can switch back to an old tray. Patients may switch to old trays if they are dealing with extremely poor tracking issues, but this should only be done after consultation with their orthodontist or provider.
Dealing with Invisalign tracking issues can be a pain. When things don’t go according to plan, it can be tempting to get stressed out and frustrated over the situation. Luckily, most Invisalign tracking issues can be solved with a few minor adjustments and by chewing Movemints to help their trays fit snugly on the teeth. If you can't resolve your issues using these tips, then contact your orthodontist to create a plan to get back on track with your treatment.