As the name implies, Invisalign clear aligners are made of almost invisible polyurethane plastic. Rather than being cemented or bonded to the teeth as metal or clear braces are, clear aligners are completely removable – for important social occasions, for eating, and, most importantly, for tooth-brushing and flossing.
This advantage can also be a disadvantage: It means you must resist the temptation to take your aligners out more than is advised. Here are some other advantages of the Invisalign system:
- Improved Oral Hygiene – With an orthodontic appliance that is removable, you will be able to clean your teeth much more easily than if you were wearing metal braces.
- A Discreet Look – If you consider your orthodontic treatment to be a private matter, or simply feel that metal braces don’t fit with your self-image, a practically invisible form of orthodontic treatment might suit you.
- More Dietary Choices – To protect metal wires and braces, some diet modifications are necessary. With clear aligners, you can still bite into an apple or a crispy pizza crust.
- Comfort – The soft, flexible material of which Invisalign is made will not irritate the soft tissues of the mouth, as metal wires and braces can.
- Teeth-Grinding Protection – If you have a teeth-grinding or clenching habit, clear aligners can function as thin night mouthguards that will protect your teeth from excessive wear.
Clear aligner technology has been improving over the years and can correct many malocclusions that once would have been too complicated for this form of treatment. Yet there are still some situations for which traditional braces would still be best. We would be happy to discuss this in detail with you.
Invisalign clear aligners work the same way traditional braces do: by applying carefully controlled forces to teeth to move them into a better position. But they are not made of metal; instead, they are made of clear, flexible plastic.
Here’s how it works: Specialized computer software helps us design a plan for moving your teeth from their current positions into the best possible alignment. This movement will be broken down into perhaps several dozen stages. For each stage, the Invisalign company will manufacture two plastic mouth “trays” or “aligners,” one to fit over your top teeth and one for the bottom. You will wear this first set of trays for two weeks, for a minimum of 20 hours per day. You will then move on to the next set of aligners in your series to accomplish the next stage of gradual movement. You will keep doing this until your teeth are correctly aligned.
In the past several years, two features have been added to make Invisalign a more appropriate orthodontic treatment method for teenagers. Special “eruption tabs” hold the appropriate amount of space open for molars that have not fully grown in. Invisalign for teens also comes with “compliance indicators” built into the aligner material, which fade with wear. This allows parents, dentists, and the teens themselves, to make sure the trays are being worn as prescribed. Treatment with Invisalign can only be successful if this is the case.
As mentioned above, one of the main advantages of the Invisalign system is that the trays can be removed for easy cleaning. So please don’t neglect to do this! You’ll need to brush your teeth after every meal or snack so that food and plaque do not get trapped in the aligners, which could promote tooth decay and gum disease. Your aligners, too, will have to be cleaned regularly; you can do this by brushing them and then rinsing them with lukewarm water.
Also, please keep in mind that while wearing clear aligners is very different from wearing braces, the importance of retaining your post-treatment results is exactly the same. You’ll want to be sure to wear your retainer(s) exactly as prescribed after your treatment is completed to protect your investment in a beautiful new smile.
During this first step you will need to make an appointment with our Invisalign® orthodontist.
During the initial visit, he/she will help you decide on your course of treatment. Impressions of your teeth will be taken and sent along with a set of precise instructions to Invisalign®.
Invisalign® uses advanced 3-D computer imaging technology to transform your impressions into a custom-made series of clear and removable aligners. There may be as many as 48 in the series or as few as 12, depending on your individual treatment plan.
During your next visit to our orthodontist, you will receive your first set aligners. Our orthodontist will most likely give you a few additional sets for you to wear before you return for your next visit.
You’ll wear each set of aligners day and night for about 2 weeks, removing them only to eat, drink, brush, and floss. Total treatment time averages 9-15 months, but will vary from case to case. You’ll visit our orthodontist about every 6 weeks to ensure that your treatment is progressing as planned.
When you’re finished wearing each aligner in the series, your treatment will be complete and you will have the beautiful smile you’ve always wanted.
Does Invisalign work as well as normal braces?
In most cases, Invisalign has proven to be as effective at straightening teeth as traditional braces. The level of Invisalign experience will determine how an orthodontist or dentist decides how to treat a patient, be it with Invisalign or traditional braces. Some severe cases may require treatment using Invisalign together with another teeth straightening technique.
What are the primary benefits of Invisalign?
There are four primary benefits of Invisalign:
- Invisalign is nearly invisible – you can straighten your teeth without anyone knowing.
- Invisalign is removable – you can eat and drink what you want in treatment; you can also brush and floss normally to maintain good oral hygiene.
- Invisalign is comfortable – there are no metal brackets or wires to cause mouth irritation: no metal or wires also means you spend less time in the doctor’s chair getting adjustments.
- Invisalign allows you to view your own virtual treatment plan before you start – so you can see how your straight teeth will look when your treatment is complete.
How long will treatment take?
The length of treatment is dependent on the severity of individual cases. Treatment may vary from anywhere between six months to two years with an average treatment taking around 12 to 14 months.
Do orthodontists and dentists need special training in order to use Invisalign?
While Invisalign can be used with virtually any treatment philosophy, specific training is needed. All orthodontists and dentists interested in treating patients with Invisalign must attend a training course before cases will be accepted from their office.
How do I know if I'm a candidate for Invisalign?
Align Technology defers to the professional judgment of the treating doctor in determining how Invisalign can be incorporated into the treatment plan. Align Technology almost never rejects the cases submitted by our doctors, as we currently accept over 98% of all cases we receive but only a orthodontist or dentist who has been Invisalign accredited can determine if Invisalign is an effective option for you.
What conditions would make me unsuitable for Invisalign?
- Severe derotations of cylindrical teeth
- Complex extrusions
- Closure of large spaces usually associated with extractions of teeth other than lower incisors.
Will Invisalign treatment be painful?
While Invisalign moves your teeth without the pain and anxiety metal braces can cause, some people experience temporary discomfort for a few days at the beginning of each new stage of treatment. This is normal and is typically described as a feeling of pressure. It’s also a sign that Invisalign is working, as it moves your teeth to their final destination. This discomfort typically goes away in a couple of days.
Will wearing Invisalign aligners affect my speech?
Similar to other orthodontic treatments, Invisalign aligners may temporarily affect the speech of some people, and you may have a slight lisp for a day or two. However, as your tongue gets used to having aligners in your mouth, any lisp caused by the aligners should disappear.