Why Are My Teeth Not Tracking With My Invisalign Plan?

Why Are My Teeth Not Tracking With My Invisalign Plan?

As a practicing orthodontist who specializes in Invisalign care, I know how excited patients are to see the results of our teeth straightening efforts. Typically, these patients have made a significant investment of time, effort and money to achieve their ideal smile, and they track the movement of their teeth on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, there are times when straightening your teeth with Invisalign doesn’t go according to plan. This can be frustrating for people using clear aligners, but fortunately we can get them back on track with a little extra effort. In this blog, I share five reasons why your Invisalign is not working, and what you can do to get back on schedule. But first, let’s answer the common question, how does Invisalign work, by describing what we mean by “teeth tracking” so you can better understand the advice I’m about to share.

What is tracking?

Tracking describes how Invisalign works by moving teeth move in accordance your treatment plan. Orthodontist’s can’t straighten your teeth overnight, so they use gradual and successive force to train your teeth into new positions as defined by your treatment plan. In the case of Invisalign or an Invisalign alternative like Smile Direct Club, each new set of trays continues this gradual tooth movement.

Orthodontic professionals work with incredibly sophisticated software to design your treatment plan. For example, Invisalign’s powerhouse software is called ClinCheck (if you go to your Invisalign doctor site, you will probably see example images like the ones below). Since you probably had your teeth digitally scanned by an intraoral (inside the mouth) scanner, ClinCheck presents an incredibly precise representation of the size, shape, and position of your teeth. It’s very cool, and you owe it to yourself to ask your orthodontist to see it! It’s available to be shared via email as well, which may be the easiest way to enjoy it.

Check your Invisalign doctor site to see if they use ClinCheck technology to create a plan for straightening your teeth

Image Credit: http://www.invisalign-g6.com/en-XA/clincheckpro.aspx

Whatever software program your provider chooses, it defines how your teeth will move into new positions which requires all kinds of complicated adjustments. Individual teeth have to move in their own unique way depending on the type of correction you need, which can introduce many variables that even the best software cannot predict. When things don’t follow according to plan, your orthodontist or provider may suggest mid-course corrections during treatment, or refinements after treatment to account for those variables and produce an end result that reflects your ideal smile.

So then why are your teeth not tracking? There are five common reasons that we can share here in this blog, but if you are really concerned about your progress it is always best to consult your orthodontist or provider.

1) Individual differences

Our computer models run thousands of scenarios to devise your treatment plan. These models account for common variables but they are unable to predict individual differences that result from your body’s specific response to orthodontic treatment. Plain and simple, some teeth are more stubborn than others, and if they don’t track in accordance with the plan, it has downstream impacts on the desired movements for your other teeth.

For example, your lateral incisors (the small teeth next to your two front teeth) are the most difficult teeth to move even with metal braces. If you’ve got some stubborn teeth, your provider may apply Invisalign attachments or buttons onto these teeth to give them more attention and encourage them to track in accordance with the plan. Once affixed, the buttons will be used to anchor rubber bands that can apply extra force to move those teeth.

Check your Invisalign doctor site to see if they use ClinCheck technology to plan Invisalign attachments and buttons that move stubborn teeth

Image Credit: http://www.invisalign-g6.com/en-XA/clincheckpro.aspx

2) Your teeth are colliding during treatment

If you’ve ever ridden public transportation during rush hour, you know how difficult it can be for crowds of people to squeeze through an open door. After a bit of bumping, grinding, and shuffling, people eventually get on the train, but not after a good bit of contact with each other.

Invisible braces can create the same crowding effect in your mouth, albeit on a much smaller scale. When two teeth are colliding with each other during treatment, your provider uses a solution called interproximal reduction, or IPR. These procedures are typically performed in the office, where your orthodontist will literally reshape your teeth to avoid collisions. But don’t worry! IPR is a safe and effective way of making more space so that your teeth can be straightened.

3) When they say 22 hours a day, they mean it

Even with the best intentions, many patients find it difficult to comply with the 22 hours of daily wear time that Invisalign and other at home clear aligner companies recommend. The fact is, it’s tough to find 22 hours in a day to wear invisible braces. And ironically, it’s the flexibility to remove trays during those two (ish) hours that can cause tracking issues which may lead to refinements and mid-course corrections during your treatment.

To minimize the variables introduced by removing your trays and help you achieve the 22 hours of wear time, we recommend TrayMinder’s free smartphone app to keep a record of your smile journey. It has a timer that tracks “not wearing” time and a reminder function that will help you set a limit for your trays being out.




It’s also helpful for keeping up with tray cycles, whether you are on the 2 week change plan or a 1 week plan which is a common practice for many experienced Invisalign providers. We also like the selfie feature which is awesome for capturing Invisalign before and after pictures. The developers just released a version of TrayMinder for android, so no matter what smartphone you have you will be able to use the app!

4) You aren't doing your chewing exercises

Aligners work by creating orthodontic tooth movement that guides your teeth into their new positions. The trays “push” your teeth each time they are seated, which provides a little extra “oomf” for moving your teeth. So getting from the first tray to your last is really a numbers game; every time you swallow, your teeth come together and your trays tighten. Every time you clench your teeth due to stress or determination, you tighten your trays. However, swallowing and clenching only applies force to your molars, and not to your front teeth. Go ahead and try to swallow; where do you feel the pressure?

Movemints are mints that fit your clear aligners and help you stay on track with your invisalign

To apply seating pressure to your front teeth, perform the chewing exercises recommended by Invisalign specialists all over the world. I tell all my patients to do them 3-5 times each day, for 3-5 minutes per time, focusing on those front six teeth that don’t get the natural seating your molars enjoy. Chewing exercises will help deliver more predictable results because you’re giving your teeth that extra motivation to move. For a long time, my orthodontic colleagues only had one device to promote chewing exercises, and that was the foam Invisalign chewie. I thought there should be a better alternative, something fresher that would encourage people to perform what I know is an essential way to achieve more predictable results.

This is why I created Movemints, the mints that fit your clear aligners. The patented grooves in each of our sugar-free mints are designed to fit comfortably between your top and bottom trays and are specially formulated to be hard for long lasting enjoyment with no sticky residue. Place Movemints between your teeth with aligners in, and use gentle pressure to keep your trays properly seated. Repeating this process can help reduce the discomfort associated with wearing clear braces while keeping you on track to achieve the results that you and your provider are hoping for.

5) Handle your trays with care

Keeping Invisalign braces clean and clear is top of mind for many patients, and for good reason. From a basic hygiene perspective, clean trays reduce the potential for cavities and will keep them (and your breath) from smelling funky and unappealing. Clean trays are also clearer and free of any ecru or eggshell tint which will make them more noticeable while you wear them.

We have an entire blog dedicated to keeping your clear aligners clean and clear, but there are a few points we need to reinforce here that can prevent potential tracking issues. The first is to never clean your trays with hot water. It will weaken the tensile strength of the trays and ultimately warp your trays. Even if you don’t think this is happening, the precision of your 3D printed invisible braces is so important to your treatment that even minor, even imperceptible alterations can throw everything out of whack.

Shop Movemints clear aligner mints for Invisalign for 15% off your order

Second, while many people will say they brush their aligners with their toothbrush and toothpaste, the harsh particulate in some toothpastes can scratch the trays. And when trays get scratched, they will retain more stains and bacteria and lose their clear qualities. Now we can’t ignore the convenience of being able to clean your trays at the same time you are brushing your teeth, so there’s a method we recommend that will keep your aligners from getting scratched up. Wait until the end of your brushing session, when there’s a little bit of paste left in your tooth brush. This diluted paste won’t be as harsh as when it first comes out of the tube, so can then go ahead and brush your trays as you normally would.

Stay positive!

Remember that the smile journey is a process, and even with advanced technology, 3D printed trays, and the best possible care, there will be things that don’t always go according to plan. A few adjustments along the way might add some time to your treatment, but isn’t it worth it to get the smile you’ve always wanted?

Hang in there, and ask your questions about why your teeth aren’t tracking in the comments section below. We’ll have one of our in-house orthodontists share their feedback with you.


  • Lily

    After 16 months of use…tray changes weekly..OCD about 22 HR wear my orthodontist suggests gen dentist evals B 4 further trays ordered..No other trays were given 2 me & my Gen Dentist will not see me 4 three weeks..they say it’s OK 2 cont 3 weeks w same tray..Im concerned.

  • Tavia

    Hello. I have finished my cycle of liners but, my bite is off. So the orthodontist scans and order new trays. But, these trays are to short. In the left top it only covers half of me back tooth. Then on the right lower it only covers 1/3 of my back tooth. Due to this the trays don’t fit snug on the teeth at those locations. They stick up. Is this normal? Will it still correct my bite even though it dosen’t cover those teeth. Oh I for got to mention those to areas the short parts are at an angle. As if someone cut them wrong.

  • Robert

    I’ve completed 15 weeks worth of treys. My teeth are pretty strait. But a couple hours of have retainer out of my mouth, my teeth spread with in hours … it’s very annoying…. what will I have to do next to keep my teeth in place and strait with out the assistance of a Trey ?

  • Lynette

    I’m on tray 39 with 59 total. I have two problems. First, I have a premolar that needed significant rotation. The tooth was literally needing 180 turn. As the true “front of the tooth case into contact with the canine in front of it, it completely stopped rotating and it became more and more obvious with each tray change that the seating of the aligners was loosing contact with that premolar and now with the molars further back in my mouth. The current tray I’ve been wearing for the last two weeks fits nicely in my mouth everywhere except for that premolar, huge gap can be seen where the tooth should be created in the aligned. I need to change trays but 40 may not even click onto my attachments at all on the problem side as tray 39 was quite difficult.
    Second problem, I had to move two states away in the middle of treatment. I did my best to address the issue quite sometime before my move. I had suspected that more was involved than a strict regimen on my part would be needed as, the fit of the progressive aligners only seemed to get worse. No attachments or anything else we’re used or suggested to get my treatment back on track.
    I’ve been in contact with the dentist sending pictures by email I’ve asked what can be done or even if I may need to find a different dentist to proceed with treatment. Before moving I even agreed to flight back if an issue arose but I’m thinking this issue might require more than one flight back at this point.
    I’ve been met with the same recommendations of “wait and see” and “keep to the regimen”. I’m at a loss as to what to do. Help!

  • Carol

    I was having the same problem as Camille (above ) my bottom teeth shifted slightly and was told to do Invisalign . Was also told 4-5 months .
    After 2 or 3 mos my top and bottom teeth did not meet, and my bottom teeth became completely crooked.
    My drs advice : remove the buttons , bond the bottom teeth so they are higher , and *jump four trays ahead on the top .
    That did not make any sense to me, and just read “ should never do that “ My teeth are now so horrible I can’t smile, it is hard to annunciate and at times – eat
    My top teeth are *all veneers that we’re perfect … Tonight , one of them came off due to my bottom tooth protruding – the rest are overlapping .. My bottom teeth now have spaces
    ( never did ) after bonding them .
    I cannot even say what I paid for my veneers , the Invisalign and the bonding …..Would seem the only answer is to get veneers for every tooth now .
    i do not believe I was given the right advice here at any time, would like to know that –
    In addition , any other alternative I may have….
    *My 13yr old son needs braces – i too wish I had them. His dentist told me 4 mos at best with them .

    of note ; I never even had braces as a kid , ever .
    My former perfect smile is now a total mess and cannot wait years or even months to fix .
    Have to go in tomorrow to glue the veneer back on the top , would appreciate any advice at all, prior to.
    Nightmare !!!

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