There are situations where the teeth do not fit properly into the Invisalign aligner. This is referred to as off-tracking. It is the most common issue that can occur with Invisalign treatment, the first sign of which is an air gap between the aligner and the edges or cusps of specific teeth.
It is the dentist’s responsibility to track the incidence of air gaps by carefully checking every attachment or button during each appointment for the entire duration of treatment. If any attachment is missing, it needs to be replaced quickly to close the air gap. Having all the attachments in place is crucial for the proper alignment of the teeth as planned.
The patient is also asked to check their tooth surfaces with their finger every time they remove the aligner to make sure no attachment is missing. If an attachment is lost, the patient needs to schedule an appointment with the dentist within 7 days to correct the problem.
Causes of off-tracking and Solutions
There are two primary causes of off-tracking:
1. Tooth moving vertically downwards (as intended)
The first is when the aligner is designed to make the front teeth move down or when a canine tooth is moving backward. Initially, a small space between the tooth and the aligner is normal when the aligners are changed. However, this gap is not supposed to increase as the aligner is worn.
To address this, the patient can bite on special chewies provided by Invisalign, focusing on the area where the teeth are not fitting well.
2. Teeth That Move at Different Paces
Individual variations in tooth movement can lead to tracking issues. Some teeth may move slower than others or may collide with adjacent teeth, affecting the overall progress of the treatment plan.
It’s important to communicate with your orthodontist about any concerns regarding tooth movement. Your orthodontist may need to explore refinements in your Invisalign treatment to address the specific tooth movements that are causing tracking issues.
3. Colliding Teeth
In some cases, Invisalign trays can cause teeth to bump into each other, hindering proper tracking. This can occur when teeth need more space to move according to the treatment plan.
Your orthodontist may perform an interproximal reduction (IPR) procedure to create more space between colliding teeth. IPR involves removing a small amount of enamel between the teeth to allow for proper alignment and movement.
4. Non-Compliance With Your Treatment Plan
The most common cause of Invisalign trays not tracking is failing to comply with your doctor’s orders. This includes not wearing the trays for the prescribed 22 hours a day. When you don’t wear the aligners as instructed, it can allow your teeth to shift back to their original positions, and future sets of aligners may not fit properly.
You should wear your aligners for at least 22 hours a day as recommended by your orthodontist. If you lose your aligners, consult your provider instead of trying to diagnose the situation yourself.
5. Changing aligners too soon
Another reason for off-tracking is when the aligners are changed too frequently, before the teeth have moved to the planned position for the next stage of treatment. Some patients may try to speed up their treatment by changing aligners every 7 days or even less.
To address this, the dentist may ask the patient to wear the problematic aligner for 3-5 days longer to see if the adaptation self-corrects. To avoid such problems arising in future, follow your treatment plan diligently and change to a new set of trays every two weeks
6. Broken or Damaged Aligners
If your clear aligners are damaged or broken, they may lose their structural integrity and fail to move your teeth properly. Cracks or subtle warping can occur from improper removal or inadequate protection when the aligners are not in your mouth.
Remember, the success of Invisalign treatment requires the patient’s diligence. This includes inspecting your aligners regularly and looking for any cracks or signs of damage. To avoid any issues, handle your aligners with care and follow proper techniques for inserting and removing them. Clean them carefully, and then store your aligners in a protective case when they are not in your mouth to prevent damage. If your aligners break or are damaged, contact your orthodontist for guidance on the next steps.
Additional Solutions for Invisalign Tracking Issues
- Practice chewing exercises to help seat your aligners properly. Movemints® Clear Aligner Mints can be used instead of Invisalign chewies for applying gentle pressure to the trays.
- Ensure you wear your aligners for the recommended minimum of 22 hours a day. Properly clean your aligners to maintain their freshness.
- Use cold foods or cold compresses to alleviate discomfort associated with switching to a new set of trays.
- If necessary, consult with your orthodontist about switching back to a previous tray if you are experiencing severe tracking issues.
As discussed above, off-tracking can happen due to programmed movements of the teeth or due to noncompliance with regard to wearing or handling them properly, preventing the teeth from fitting well into the aligner.
It is the responsibility of both the orthodontist and the patient to check for any air gaps and take remedial action to ensure that tooth alignment continues as planned. Patients can use chewies to improve the fit, and dentists need to check attachments at each appointment to ensure they are in place. If an attachment is lost, the patient should see the dentist promptly for repair.
Remember, if you are facing Invisalign tracking issues and the solutions provided do not resolve the problem, it’s essential to contact your orthodontist for further guidance. They can create a plan to address the specific challenges you’re experiencing and help you get back on track with your treatment.