Reasons why clear aligners fail

Reasons why clear aligners fail

Written by Dr. Radhika Gadge

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated Apr 12, 2024

Written by Dr. Radhika Gadge

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated Apr 12, 2024

The other day when I was shopping in a mall, I came across a body shop store. There the shopkeeper almost convinced me to buy a salicylic acid serum for my pimples. However, when I got home and started using it, I got no results except for some more pimples on my face. That’s when I began thinking the serum might not be for me, or maybe I used it the wrong way, or maybe I was using it in excess to achieve the results faster. This same can happen with your clear aligners. Many people who undergo clear aligner treatment are left unsatisfied and wondering why their treatment failed. If you have already gone through the process of clear aligner treatment and have failed, it is time for you to read this blog. Some of the reasons for this failure can be quite simple and some, very complex. We will try and break down each reason so you can know what causes poor results.

Problems that come with clear aligners

Clear aligners bring more dental problems like cavities, gingivitis, and periodontitis. They can also make your mouth sore and dry. This is why you need to maintain good oral hygiene practices. Because your mouth is introduced to some foreign material; aligners can cause allergies like itching and redness in your mouth. At times they may be painful and give you a feeling of heaviness in your mouth. Some people find it difficult to tolerate these problems and hence they discontinue wearing aligners. This results in no change in their teeth alignment. On the other hand, some people notice relapse of their condition even after undergoing complete treatment. This is simply because you may not be the right candidate for clear aligners.

At home clear aligners vs in clinic aligners

At home clear aligners vs in clinic aligners

In this era of technology where you can order anything online at your fingertips, clear aligners are not an exception. Various brands in the market are cheap and promise the desired results. However, you need to understand that at-home aligners are not the solution for everyone. They are a good option only if you have mild malalignment of your teeth. At-home aligners claim to show results within 6 months which might not be true every time. Just like the treatment of a chronic disease requires months and years of adequate bed rest, your mal-aligned teeth require enough time and patience. Although they are cheap, they also compromise the quality of the material. In-office aligners compared to at-home aligners are always the better option. Because these aligners are made under the supervision of your dentist, they are priced a little higher. They take more time to straighten your teeth but the results, in the end, are worth the hassle. Complicated cases require continuous monitoring which is best possible by regular visits to your dentist.

You may not be eligible for clear aligners

There is a common misconception of aligners as being “one-size-fits-all.” Many of you might have come across the advertisements for clear aligners and got attracted to this easy, simple, and invisible solution for our crooked teeth. However, when you arrive at the dentist with an appointment to have your teeth straightened, you find out that you too crooked teeth or a mouth that is out of alignment. Because the complex cases require more amount of correction; clear aligners either take more time or may not show the desired results. If you have been told that you are not a good candidate for clear aligners, don’t lose hope; braces got you covered. Moreover, what can do wonders for your smile is ultimately in the hands of your dentist.

Interrupted treatments


When you buy a new pair of shoes, you have to continue wearing them despite the shoe bites to get accustomed to them. The same proves true for your clear aligners. But some patients discontinue wearing aligners at the slightest amount of pain or discomfort. Sometimes when they are in a hurry, they just forget to wear aligners or skip them to enjoy their favorite food. This causes interruptions in the treatment period ultimately resulting in slower to no results in the end. As they see no remarkable results, they no more want to wear the aligners again. This causes a relapse of your mal-aligned teeth. Interrupted treatments can be easily minimized with in-office aligners since you are constantly supervised and motivated by your dentist. Your cooperation and patience can defeat this most common cause of failure of clear aligners.

Teeth grinding and clenching habits


You must have experienced clenching of your teeth when you are all red with anger. Also, you must have seen people biting and chewing their nails when they are nervous or anxious. However, if you are doing this out of habit; you need to stop. These habits can interfere with your clear aligner treatment and cause a relapse of your condition, and make you wonder where and how you went wrong. Hence a detailed examination by your dentist will help you eliminate the habits and achieve the desired results.

Results are in the hands of the patient

Though your dentist supervises and performs the treatment, it is you who is responsible for the results of clear aligners. Your commitment to maintain and will to wear aligners decides the game after all. Successful treatment is achieved by dentist-supervised and patient-controlled aligners.

Remote monitoring

telehealth remote monitoring

With at-home aligners, remote monitoring is a difficult task. It is not possible to judge if the patient is going wrong during the treatment. Neither it is possible to assess if there is a need for any other treatment. In-office aligners include regular visits to the dentist where your dentist may perform additional necessary treatments to provide desired results. Any error during the treatment on the part of the patient can also be well managed with proper supervision. Moreover, your dentist can encourage you to maintain proper oral hygiene during the entire treatment to prevent further dental problems.

Clear aligners are 50 percent dentist supervision and 50 percent patient cooperation. For remarkable results, it is important that both go hand in hand.

Bottom Line

Clear aligners are a popular choice for straightening teeth, but sometimes they can fail. The most common reason for failure is poor compliance, which means that the patient doesn’t wear the aligners for the required 22 hours per day. Other reasons for failure include improper fit, poor oral hygiene, and hard-to-treat teeth. However, the good news is that there are ways to prevent clear aligner failure, and if you do experience failure, there are options for fixing it. So, if you’re considering clear aligners, don’t let the possibility of failure discourage you. Failure is not common, and when it does happen, it can usually be fixed.


  • Though clear aligners are a hype among people, they have some chances of failure too.
  • The most common reasons for failure are because of poor patient co-operation.
  • Patients don’t want to wear them because of the pain and discomfort that comes along with them.
  • Maintenance of oral hygiene while wearing aligners is the most common factor that the patients struggle with.
  • Interrupted treatments and teeth clenching or grinding habits hamper the results of clear aligner treatment.
  • The best part is these failures can be fixed with in-office or dentist-supervised aligners.
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