One of the primary concerns people often have about dental braces is the aesthetic impact of the metalwork on their smile. Especially for adults, the prospect of wearing unattractive metal braces for long periods of time can be very discouraging. Invisalign® offers an almost invisible aligning system that straightens teeth fast and contains no metal.
Invisalign® treatment consists of a series of custom-made aligning trays. The dentist changes the trays every several weeks to fit the new tooth configuration. In addition to the reduced visual impact, Invisalign® aligning trays can be temporarily removed for important occasions – meaning that treatment duration is patient-controlled. A great number of people report complete satisfaction with both the Invisalign® treatment and the stunning results.
What kind of bite problems can Invisalign® correct?
Invisalign® corrects the same dental problems as traditional metal braces; the only difference is that Invisalign® trays are almost invisible to the naked eye, and can be removed at will.
Here are some problems that are commonly corrected with Invisalign®:
Overcrowding – This occurs when there is too little space for the teeth to align normally in the mouth. Overcrowding can cause tooth decay and increase the likelihood of gum disease.
Large gaps between teeth – This can sometimes occur because teeth are missing or because the jaw continues to grow abnormally.
Crossbite – This common dental problem occurs when one or multiple upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth. As a consequence, uneven wear can lead to bone erosion and gum disease.
Overbite – This problem occurs when the upper teeth project further than, or completely cover, the lower teeth. Eventually, jaw pain and TMJ may occur.
Underbite – This is the inverse of the overbite; the lower teeth project further than, or completely cover, the upper teeth. Eventually, jaw pain and TMJ can occur.
What advantages does Invisalign® offer over traditional braces and veneers?
Traditional dental braces, Invisalign® aligning trays, and dental veneers are three different ways to perfect the alignment of the teeth. There are many different considerations to make when deciding which treatment will be best, and each of these options works better in certain situations.
Invisalign® differs from traditional braces in that the aligning trays are fully removable. This means that more discipline and commitment is required from the patient. This is not usually a problem since the trays are comfortable and nearly invisible. Almost identical results can be obtained by using either treatment.
Invisalign® is preferable to veneers in many cases because unlike veneers, Invisalign® actually straightens the teeth. Veneers are thin covers that the dentist permanently affixes to the teeth. Teeth must be etched beforehand, meaning that to remove dental veneers, an alternative covering must be constructed. In addition to being somewhat expensive, veneers can break and often last for less than 20 years.
What does Invisalign® treatment involve?
First, the dentist needs to devise an initial treatment plan before creating the special aligning trays. Three-dimensional digital images are taken of the entire jaw. These images allow the dentist to move specific teeth on the screen, view the jaw from different angles, and also foresee what the face might look like in years to come. In essence, this technology can show how Invisalign® trays will change the facial aesthetics. Photos for records and a 3D impression (iTero) may also be taken before treatment begins.
Once planning is complete, a unique set of aligners is made. The total amount of aligners required varies with each individual case, but 20-29 sets per arch is typical.
There are many different types of treatment options when it comes to Invisalign®. Your dental professional will carefully choose which option is best for you.
Your first appointment will be an Invisalign® work-up which will involve all of the records your dentist will need in order to submit your prescription online. Your second appointment will consist of having tooth-colored composite attachments (also known as "buttons") placed on specific teeth to help aid with movement throughout the treatment. Your prescription may also include IPR (interproximal reduction). IPR is strategically done between certain teeth to create a minimal amount of space in order to allow teeth to straighten if the area is crowded. This procedure does not hurt and it's fairly quick! Your dentist might split the IPR up each month as more space between the teeth becomes available. After your first few initial appointments, you will be seen monthly in our office to check the tracking of your teeth and to dispense more trays. If the dentist has reason to believe that your teeth may not be tracking, a refinement scan will be taken and a new set of trays will be made based off of where your teeth were positioned during that scan. It is common for larger cases to need a refinement scan, so don't be discouraged if you need more trays!
Your final appointment, after you are completely finished with trays, will involve having the buttons removed, photos for records to compare from where you began, digital x-rays just like the ones in the beginning, and a 3D impression scan to have digital record where your teeth are positioned after treatment and can be used to make your final retainers. Your first and last appointment tend to be the longest when going through Invisalign® treatment usually lasting around 1 (one) hour. Appointments in between are fairly quick unless IPR or a refinement scan is needed.
If you notice that a composite tooth-colored button has come off one of your teeth, it is not an emergency. Please be sure to tell us at your monthly check-up so we can have it replaced. If you have rubber bands/elastics with your Invisalign® treatment plan and one of the silver back molar buttons happen to come off, stop wearing the elastics and call our office during the next business day so we can put it back on. The silver buttons are important to correcting your bite.
What are some considerations when wearing Invisalign® trays?
Life with Invisalign® aligning trays may take several weeks to get used to. The trays should be worn constantly, except when eating. It is important to remove the trays when consuming food because food can become trapped between the tray and the teeth, causing tooth decay. It is okay, however, to drink with the trays in. It is highly recommended that you avoid sugary drinks if you decide to do so. Also, be mindful that dark colored sodas, coffee, some juices, and dark wines can cause the aligners to stain quicker and easier. Drinking water is great when wearing aligners because it's clear and doesn't contain any sugars. Be sure to brush your teeth and clean the aligners before putting them back in if you take them out to eat or drink.
It is very important not to have your aligners out more than what your dentist recommends each day. Invisalign® now has an app to help keep track of how long you have your aligners out, which is very helpful! It also offers many other helpful services related to your treatment specifically.
Usually, new trays are necessary every two weeks, and progress between appointments can be seen with the naked eye. There is no doubt that Invisalign® aligning trays have revolutionized orthodontics. Invisalign® is renowned for being both comfortable and effective.
Remember, it is okay to stay in an aligner longer than what we recommend if you feel there is more movement that needs to be done for whatever reason while you're in that specific aligner. We do, however, ask that you do NOT switch aligners sooner than what we recommend. Moving too quickly through your aligners can cause your teeth to stop following the treatment plan and a refinement scan will be needed to get things back on track.
If you have questions about Invisalign®, please contact our office.