Invisalign® is an orthodontic treatment that uses a series of clear, custom-crafted mouthpieces to gradually guide teeth into proper alignment. The mouthpieces are worn at least 22 hours a day, to be removed only while eating meals, brushing, and flossing.
It may surprise you to learn that many of the same characteristics that would make you a candidate for traditional orthodontics also make you a candidate for Invisalign®. Before proceeding with Invisalign®, your orthodontist will conduct a thorough examination of your smile to determine if these clear plastic mouthpieces will be effective in giving you the straighter, healthier smile you desire.
Virtually Invisible Treatment
One of the most distinguishing characteristics of an Invisalign® candidate is a desire not to sport a mouthful of conspicuous metal appliances for a year or more. Today, traditional braces are a common and accepted rite of passage for many adolescents. But because metal braces are so closely associated with adolescence, adults who desire a straighter smile often find themselves feeling reluctant to take the traditional route. As Invisalign® has gained popularity, many adolescents have also chosen the less conspicuous alternative. The bottom line: if you have your adult teeth, you are unhappy with the alignment of your teeth, and you do not wish to wear orthodontic appliances that draw attention, you may be a good candidate for Invisalign®.
A Range of Treatable Cases
If you have severe alignment or bite issues, extraction, or even jaw surgery, may be necessary to correct your bite. Generally speaking, however, many of the same cases that would traditionally call for metal braces are treatable using Invisalign®. These cases include:
- Gapped Teeth: Abnormal growth of the jawbone can result in wide gaps between the teeth. Wide spacing can also make it easier for bacteria to collect below the gum line, increasing your risk of gum disease.
- Underbite: Improper jaw development, genetics, bad oral habits and other conditions can cause the top teeth to bite behind the bottom teeth. An underbite can cause excessive wear and tear on your teeth, as well as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems.
- Overbite: Many of the same complications that can occur as a result of an underbite can happen if your top teeth bite over the lower teeth.
- Crowded Teeth: If your jaw lacks the room needed to properly accommodate your teeth, crowding can occur. Left untreated, crowding only worsens, increasing your risk of plaque accumulation, gum disease and tooth decay.
- Open Bite: Some teeth may not be able to make physical contact with an opposing tooth because of genetics, or thumb sucking. An open bite can cause speech impairment, or make chewing painful. TMJ disorder is also a risk of an open bite.
- Crossbite: If the lower and upper jaws do not meet properly, it can cause pronounced wear and tear on the teeth, and increase your risk of TMJ disorder.
Invisalign® is a unique treatment in that it serves a cosmetic function both during treatment as well as after:
- Invisible orthodontics allow the patient to have a natural-looking smile during treatment. The mouthpiece itself is hardly noticeable to those around you. Traditional braces, on the other hand, tend to stand out during treatment.
- A straighter smile at the end of treatment can give the patient the highly-coveted symmetry and spacing that is commonly considered so important in a “classic” smile.
Though Invisalign® is primarily considered a cosmetic treatment, it does provide significant restorative benefits:
- Tooth wear and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) can be curbed or avoided by treating overbite and underbite with Invisalign®
- It is easier to clean teeth once crowding issues have been corrected with Invisalign®
- Gum problems such as periodontal pockets and disease can be avoided by correcting gapped teeth
- Initial visit: During your first appointment, the dimensions of your smile will be digitally measured to guide creation of your mouthpieces and devise a treatment plan. You will be provided with a digital representation of the results you can expect after treatment.
- Wearing Invisalign® Mouthpieces: You will wear your mouthpieces for at least 22 hours a day, removing them to eat, brush, and floss. Every two weeks, you will wear the next mouthpiece in the series.
- Checkups: Every six weeks, you will return to the dentist to monitor your progress.
- A Straighter Smile: At the end of your treatment, your smile will be properly aligned.
You may be advised to continue wearing your final mouthpiece overnight as a retainer that will help you maintain your new smile. Some patients consider undergoing teeth whitening treatment after completing Invisalign® treatment to highlight their new smile.
Invisalign® has gained significant popularity in recent years because of the many advantages it offers over conventional orthodontics. Traditionally, achieving a straighter smile required affixing a system of brackets directly to the outer surface of the teeth, and gradually placing more tension via wires connecting those brackets. Though certainly effective, the metal hardware can cause patients to feel self-conscious about the appearance of their smiles. The most obvious advantage of Invisalign® it that they are virtually invisible to those around you. Instead of metal hardware, Invisalign® relies on clear plastic mouthpieces to straighten your smile. However, there are other significant benefits that make them an option worth considering.
A Straighter Smile
As with traditional braces, the objective of Invisalign® treatment is a straighter smile that looks great and is easier to clean. Invisalign® is proven to deliver these results in a wide variety of cases when the patient uses them as directed.
No Food Restrictions
Traditional braces make cleaning your teeth more difficult. The brackets and wires can also become damaged if you hazard to eat hard or sticky foods. Invisalign® mouthpieces, on the other hand, are removable, allowing the patient to continue enjoying the foods they love, and cleaning their teeth afterwards with no more difficulty than they had before undergoing this orthodontic treatment. Invisalign® should be worn at least 22 hours a day – but that gives you an ample two hours each day to enjoy any foods you choose, and subsequently brush and floss all traces of them from your teeth.
Ask anyone who has worn braces, and they can tell you that metal brackets and wires aren’t exactly the most comfortable materials you can choose to press against the soft tissues of your mouth. Invisalign® mouthpieces are custom-made from smooth plastic, eliminating this trademark of traditional braces. Anyone who enjoys participating in contact sports such as football and soccer may find Invisalign® to be an especially attractive choice. That’s because although a variety of injuries are always a risk involved with these activities, damaging the insides of your mouth with a blunt metal edge isn’t one of them.
Not everyone is a candidate for Invisalign®, but this treatment has been proven to be equally effective as traditional braces in treating a wide variety of conditions, including underbite, overbite, crowding, crossbite and wide spacing.
Both Invisalign® and traditional braces cost about $5,000.
No Need for a New Retainer
At the end of a period spent wearing traditional braces, patients require a retainer that is worn at night to maintain the refined alignment achieved. This, of course, involves customization and a considerable cost. With Invisalign®, most patients can simply continue wearing the final mouthpiece in their treatment series as a retainer, eliminating the need to create and acquire additional costly appliances. Depending upon your circumstances, your orthodontist may recommend having a new retainer made.
Speak to a Dentist to Learn More about Invisalign®
If you would like to learn more about how Invisalign® can improve the appearance and health of your smile, contact a dentist in your area today.