As Invisalign continues to grow in popularity as an effective alternative to braces, you may be hearing more about it, and find yourself wondering how the whole process actually works. Because the clear aligners don’t bear any resemblance to traditional metal braces with wires and brackets, they can be a bit of a mystery even to patients who are familiar with orthodontic treatments. So what exactly is Invisalign, and how does it work?
Our team at Inspire Dental has put together this easy guide to help you understand the ins and outs of the Invisalign system. Let’s take a look!
First things first
Invisalign is great at what it does, but there are certain situations where it doesn’t work as effectively as traditional braces. The biggest determinant of whether or not Invisalign is right for you is what you would like fixed and the severity of your case. Invisalign is geared towards moderate cases, and is not as effective at fixing severe issues that would normally require more advanced orthodontic procedures to correct them.
Generally, Invisalign can treat things like
- Gapped teeth
- Crowded teeth
- Mild overbite
Booking a complimentary consultation at our office will help us determine whether or not you’ll be a good candidate for Invisalign treatment.
The next steps
Once we’re able to determine if you’re a good candidate for Invisalign at your consultation, we’ll take detailed records. These records include:
- Photographs of your teeth and face
- Digital x-rays
Once these records are complete, they’re sent to Invisalign with detailed instructions on how we want your teeth to be moved. Dr. Wilson will then create a complete treatment plan from the initial position of your teeth to their final desired position. We believe the key to a successful outcome with Invisalign is a highly skilled Dentist creating the right plan for you. Once our review is complete, we give the go-ahead for Invisalign to create your custom-made clear aligners, also called trays. Once our office receives the trays, we’re ready to start the straightening process!
Each set of Invisalign aligners is worn for 1-2 weeks at a time. The aligners are manufactured so that teeth will typically move in small increments, so when you put a new aligner in, the teeth in the tray itself are slightly straighter than your teeth are. This puts pressure on your teeth, so that over the course of the week, your teeth will move to match the aligner.
As you replace each aligner with the next in the series, your teeth will continue to move — little by little, week by week — until they have straightened to their final positions.
You’ll need to visit us about once every 6-10 weeks to ensure your treatment is progressing as planned. Total treatment time typically lasts about 12-18 months, and the number of aligners worn during treatment is usually somewhere between 20 and 50, but both numbers will vary from case to case.
Important considerations with Invisalign
Once your aligners are in, you’ll be expected to wear them close to full time. Typically, we’ll want you to have your aligners in for about 22 hours a day, for the duration of your treatment. Wearing your aligners for this amount of time will help the teeth move to their final position for that particular tray. If your teeth aren’t in their anticipated position when you move on to the next set of aligners, the aligners won’t fit quite as well, and by the time you are multiple trays down the line, the fit will be noticeably off.
As well as wearing your aligners for the required amount of time daily, you’ll need to take your aligners out every time you eat and any time you drink anything other than water. You should also take them out to brush and floss thoroughly twice a day, cleaning the aligner with a toothbrush at the same time.
Once you’ve completed the initial series of aligners, Dr. Wilson will determine if an additional series of aligners is necessary to perfect your smile. Once you’ve completely finished treatment, it’s time to celebrate that beautiful new smile! At this point, we’ll discuss retainers. Our bodies change as we age, and that includes our teeth, which have a tendency to shift and move as we grow older. By wearing a retainer as directed, you can keep your straight smile in place.
- As mentioned above, you can – and should – take your aligners out any time you eat or drink. This means none of the frustrating food restrictions you have with traditional braces!
- Invisalign is virtually invisible, making it the perfect choice for a more aesthetically pleasing option and for patients who prefer a more subtle treatment option.
- Brushing and flossing can be difficult with traditional braces, but removable aligners make good dental hygiene a much easier process, keeping your teeth and gums healthy.
- You can remove your Invisalign aligners temporarily for senior photos, a sports event, or any other special occasion.