The Invisalign® system uses virtually invisible aligners, rather than metal bands, brackets or wires, to straighten teeth comfortably. The aligners are custom-made to fit the teeth and are easily removable so patients can eat, drink, brush and floss. The advantage that Invisalign teeth aligners have over regular braces is that they are virtually undetectable.
The Invisalign system uses advanced 3-D computer-imaging technology to project tooth movement in a patient’s mouth. This allows the dentist to create a series of clear, custom-made aligners, also known as repositioners, that gradually move the teeth in line with one another. Patients wear each aligner for about two weeks, then move on to the next set, until the teeth-positioning goal has been met.
The Invisalign system is an effective tool for straightening teeth, and is suitable for patients who are fourteen years of age and older, and who want to:
- Eliminate teeth crowding
- Straighten crooked or misaligned teeth
- Close up large spaces between the teeth
- Correct overbites, underbites, and cross-bites
How Does Invisalign Work?
Invisalign encourages teeth into proper alignment by exerting pressure via the clear plastic aligners. This is the same principle present in metal braces. Also like metal braces, Invisalign aligners move teeth in a series of successions. Every time aligners are switched, gentle force may be placed on a few different teeth, always based on the initial treatment protocol developed in the Invisalign lab.
“Dr. Smith and her assistant Ariel were so amazing and sweet! They got me in for an emergency appt as i was leaving town. I rescheduled an appt for when i get back.”
Benefits Of Invisalign
Invisalign aligners offer many benefits over traditional metal braces. They may include:
- Less pain
- Lower cost
- Cosmetic appeal
- No dietary restrictions
- No “tightening” required
- Flexible-payment options
- Little to no impact on daily life
- Easier to keep teeth clean and healthy
- Aligners can be removed at any time
Visibly, the Invisalign treatment process is simple and streamlined. Patients visit the office for a thorough consultation and examination. When a patient decides to progress with Invisalign treatment, digital images and impressions are taken. Then the sophistication begins.
After we gather data to create a model of the patient’s mouth, a 3D image is created using special software. This initial image is then moved in increments to “map” the movement of each tooth. This map determines at what stage of treatment each tooth need to move. This initial planning guides the creation of each set of aligners as well as the overall course of treatment in terms of how many aligners will be worn.
Once the aligners are returned to the office from the Invisalign lab, we insert them for the patient for the first time. Patients may insert and remove the aligners a few times in the office to make sure they feel comfortable with this. At this visit, a few sets of aligners will be provided and a 6-week check up will be scheduled.
In the interim, a new set of aligners will be inserted every two weeks. At 6-week check ups, the doctor observes the way teeth are moving according to plan. If needed, adjustments may be suggested. In some cases, small fixtures may be added to aligners to help teeth move as the doctor would like. In addition to periodic Invisalign check ups, patients also need to maintain their regular dental check ups and cleanings while undergoing their teeth-straightening treatment.
How Long Does Invisalign Take?
Typically, Invisalign treatment takes about a year from start to finish. The patient will come to see our staff for a brief appointment every 6 to 8 weeks to review progress and receive the next set of aligners. Patients are very happy with their results as Invisalign aligners have been shown to be highly effective at straightening teeth.
Invisalign vs. Traditional Metal Braces
The primary difference between Invisalign and traditional braces is the model of fixtures used to straighten teeth. Braces exert pressure via a somewhat intricate network of brackets and wires. With Invisalign, gentle force comes from the structure of the clear plastic aligners. Though not completely rigid, aligners do hold a specific form that will fit in a way that presses on one or more teeth.
Rather than being affixed to individual teeth, Invisalign aligners fit entirely over each arch, one aligner for the top and one for the bottom. They can be removed, which eliminates the need to alter eating and brushing habits. However, it is important that patients commit to wearing their aligners at all times other than meals, for brushing and flossing, and the occasional special event.
What To Expect After Aligners
Once teeth have been properly positioned through Invisalign treatment, we want to keep them that way. Patients can expect to wear retainers in the same way they would if they had traditional braces. Retainers are typically worn at all times for a period of a year or more. After that time, they can be worn at night only. This prevents teeth from reverting to their misaligned position.
How to care for Invisalign aligners
Each set of aligners is temporary. However, it is necessary to take good care of each set. Poor care could lead to damage, loss, or bad breath and an increased risk of gingivitis. To care for Invisalign aligners, patients are encouraged to:
- Always put aligners in a safe container during meals, especially when eating out.
- Rinse aligners in cool water before inserting them.
- Aligners do not need to be brushed. A finger or very soft cloth could be used to wipe aligners down if they become cloudy.