What Are Invisalign® Braces?
Invisalign braces have been on the market since 1998. They are rapidly becoming the treatment of choice for teens and adults who want a straighter smile without the discomfort and unpleasant appearance of traditional braces. These clear plastic aligner trays can be used for mild to moderate orthodontic correction.
Invisalign braces are clear plastic aligner trays that provide orthodontic patients with straight teeth and an even, healthy smile. These trays are custom-fabricated to apply precise pressure and gradually move teeth into better alignment. This non-invasive approach to correcting tooth and bite alignment problems is an alternative to metal and tooth-colored braces. It is especially beneficial for patients who feel self-conscious about wearing traditional braces.
These “invisible” braces can correct:
- Crooked teeth
- Unevenly spaced teeth
- Overcrowded teeth
- Mild to moderate bite problems
Advantages Over Traditional Braces
This tooth alignment system offers three main benefits compared to traditional braces.
First, the trays are clear plastic. Unlike other “invisible” braces that still feature metal wires, there is no metal at all in the Invisalign trays. This makes them even less noticeable than both tooth-colored ceramic braces and lingual braces (the kind attached to the tongue-side surface of the teeth). Once you get used to talking normally with the trays in your mouth, other people may not even be able to tell you are wearing braces.
Second, there are no brackets or ties. This means there are no protruding components that can irritate the tongue, gums and other sensitive oral tissues. You do not need to coat Invisalign® braces with dental wax to stay comfortable.
Third, these trays are removable. Since the trays are removable, they do not interfere with normal hygiene by making brushing and flossing more challenging. You may be less likely to experience tooth decay and gingivitis as a side effect of orthodontic treatment.
These clear plastic aligner trays generally cost about as much as traditional braces. Some dental insurance plans cover a portion of treatment costs. Other affordable payment options are available for patients without insurance.
Who Is A Candidate for Invisalign®?
There is no upper age limit on treatment for patients without major dental health issues. You must be willing and able to wear the trays as instructed for best results. Invisalign is most commonly used to correct mild to moderate tooth crookedness and spacing issues. Patients with severe bite problems are usually treated with traditional braces instead because they can be augmented with additional orthodontic appliances like bands or headgear.
Invisalign® Treatment Process
The treatment process starts with a visual dental exam and a consultation. Photos, x-rays and computer imaging are used to create a precise treatment plan that will deliver the results you want. This digital technology lets you see what your final smile will look like before you even start using Invisalign®. Molds of your upper and lower teeth are sent to the Invisalign® laboratory so your aligner trays can be custom made. All of the trays used during your treatment are created at the same time.
Once your trays arrive, installation is as simple as placing them over your teeth. You must wear these trays at least 22 hours per day. Every two-to-three weeks, you will move on to the next set of trays in your treatment series. This way, you keep constant, gentle pressure on your teeth to move them into the correct position. You will need a quick checkup visit every six weeks or so to ensure treatment is progressing as planned. Invisalign® trays don’t require any special care. You can simply brush them gently and rinse them with water whenever you take them out.
Treatment may last six-to-18 months. However, some patients need more time to achieve their desired results. After you are finished with your aligner trays, you will be fitted with a retainer. You must wear this retainer as directed to keep your teeth from drifting back to their old position.
Can I Eat With My Invisalign?
You can, but should remove the trays for each meal and during tooth brushing and flossing. You can eat a normal, healthy diet without restricting foods that might get stuck in or damage metal braces.
Will I Experience Any Discomfort During Treatment?
While Invisalign braces are very comfortable compared to metal braces, they may cause initial soreness by placing pressure on your teeth. You may experience a recurrence of soreness each time you switch to a new set of trays. Over the counter pain relievers may help with this symptom.