Feeling self-conscious about the appearance of metal braces in social and professional situations caused many adults who desired a straight smile to be reluctant to undertake orthodontic therapy. Ease of use, comfortable fit as well as being virtually invisible has led to Invisalign® rapidly becoming the orthodontic treatment of choice with adults who wish to attain a straight smile.
Unlike fixed metal braces, Invisalign® aligners can be removed allowing you to eat, brush and floss normally without having to worry about cleaning around brackets and wires. You will need to visit the United Dental Care team approximately every 6 weeks so we can ensure your treatment is progressing as planned. Depending on the position of your teeth, treatment can vary between 9 – 15 months.
The most obvious advantage of the treatment is cosmetic: the aligners are completely transparent, therefore far more difficult to detect than traditional wire and bracket braces. This makes the method particularly popular among adults who want to straighten their teeth without the look of traditional metal braces, which are commonly worn by children and adolescents. In addition, the aligners are marked as being more comfortable than braces. Due to the removable nature of the device, food can be consumed without the encumbrance of metallic braces.
Clinically, aligners avoid many of the side effects of traditional fixed appliances, for example the effects on the gums and supporting tissues. Almost all other types of orthodontic treatment will cause the roots of teeth to shorten (root resorption) for most patients, and demineralisation or tooth decay occurs in up to 50% of patients because (unlike Invisalign) they cannot be removed for eating and cleaning, and because they prevent accurate x-rays from being taken. Patients “graduate” to a new set of aligners in their treatment series approximately every two weeks. The aligners give less force per week and less pain than do fixed appliances (traditional metal braces). Fixed appliances are adjusted approximately every six weeks and apply greater forces.
Aligners should be removed to eat, drink, to clean the teeth, or to have them checked by the clinician. Because you remove the aligners, you are not limited to what you eat. (It is acceptable to wear aligners while drinking water.) Computerised treatment planning is compulsory as part of the Invisalign protocol. As with other forms of orthodontic treatments that incorporate a computerised plan, this allows the prospective patient to review the projected smile design, learn how long the treatment is likely to take, compare different plans, and make a more educated decision about whether or not to use Invisalign.
Invisalign treatments have been claimed to be quicker than traditional orthodontics. A large-scale study of 408 patients with traditional appliances in Indiana took an average of 35.92 months with a maximum of 96 months, while Invisalign takes between 12–18 months. In a much smaller study Invisalign was shown to be faster and achieve straighter teeth than alternatives but relapsed to ultimately get similar results to the traditional appliances examined. The study was considered by the authors, however, to be too small for many conclusions to be statistically significant. Furthermore, this general concept that Invisalign is faster has been challenged by the Invisalign review which points out that there are other brace appliance systems that take half the time, for example by incorporating surgery or temporary implants that insert into the patient’s bone, to accelerate the procedure.
For more information, please visit the invisalign® official website
An Orthodontics patient sharing her experience with her Invisalign treatment
We call them “invisible braces”, even if in the end Invisalign doesn’t rely on the regular braces system. There are no wires or ligatures in there, nothing metal, just some clear plastic and some attachments that have the same colour as your teeth have. Invisalign is one of the newest orthodontic treatments that’s got a lot of patients straightening their teeth without others noticing this.
Invisalign works simple: you wear some plastic aligners on your teeth and they do the job. Invisalign doesn’t rely on a fixed system (as the classical braces), but on mobile aligners. You take them out to eat and brush and then place them back.
How does this work?
At first you are given this choice if your orthodontist has a license to use this system and if your case is not that complex. In my case for instance, the teeth were too crooked at first, so I had to wear Damon braces for 7 months (on the lateral teeth, to solve some of the big problems) and afterwards I was able to get Invisalign.
Since I am a 30 year old woman and have also got my own web design firm, you can imagine I wasn’t too pleased to sport a “metal mouth”. The Damon system worked nicely and it didn’t show (since the front teeth weren’t braced) and now Invisalign will finish the job.
Only your orthodontist can know for sure. You can use another system and then Invisalign or just go for the invisible braces, if your doctor advises you to.
In order for your treatment to begin, your doctor will take moulds and these will be sent to Align Technologies. There, these will be used to prepare the treatment in a 3D computerised system and the aligners you’ll wear. Your orthodontist will show you the animation and you’ll be able to accept or decline the treatment. You’ll be able to see your teeth moving till the final step.
Here is a very interesting video I was able to find on youtube: The Invisalign process
After you have accepted the treatment, you’ll receive your first set of aligners. Your doctor will help you put them on your teeth and some attachments might be added. The attachments have the same colour as your teeth and are very discreet. Some orthodontists don’t use attachments, so it depends on your doctor.
You wear a set for 2 weeks. Then another one and another one. All aligners come packed with your name on the bag, the aligner number and the total number of aligners. From this total number you can know how long your orthodontic treatment will be: in my case I have 26 aligners for the upper teeth and 37 for the lower ones (this means 13 months for the upper teeth and 18 months and a half for the others).
You are advised to wear them for 20-22 hours a day. The more you respect this requirement, the better. Take out your Invisalign aligners for eating and oral hygiene and then place them back. Some lisp is also possible in the first days, but it does get better.
As a Damon braces patient before I can tell you that Invisalign is a walk in the park compared with the metal braces. I did have some slight pain in the first 2 days, but nothing compared with not being able to eat anything than very soft food for 10 days. Some Invisalign patients consider the treatment to be hard, but I can tell you it’s one of the easiest.
Here are some things to consider:
- you might face problems with taking out the aligners at the first time. You might not be used to this. I find it easier to take the aligners from the laterals (molars) and then from the front teeth. The attachments might prove tricky: I just place my nail under the attachment (take care to not hurt your gums) and lift a bit till the aligner gets “freed” from the attachment. With some experience you’ll be able to take out the aligners fast
- don’t lose them. You have a nice box for the aligners. Try to not misplace them since it would be bad for your treatment. You’d have to wear the old ones and wait for the duplicates. DON’T LOSE THEM!
- you will brush like a maniac. Whenever I eat, I just take out my aligners, eat and then brush and then place back. Never had such clean teeth. Try to also clean the aligners, they’ll smell very bad otherwise.
- you might experience some slight pain. Some people complain about big tooth pains, it all depends on your body in the end. Just take some painkillers if you can’t cope with the pain. It will pass in few days.
- you’ll talk funny for some days. Even if so, you’ll still be able to discuss almost normally, so don’t expect to be too funny. I am a radio DJ and wore my aligners since day one. I did have some slight issues with my diction, but I am getting better.
What are the advantages?
- They are INVISIBLE. All my friends had to take a really good look at my mouth to spot them. If you don’t drink coffee or coke with them on, your aligners will remain clean and invisible for the 2 weeks you are supposed to wear them.
- easy to clean: I just use mouthwash and my toothpaste for them
- they don’t stain (unless you drink something that might do the trick)
- the mouth sores can happen, but we are talking less damage than from metal braces. I recall using dental wax for 3 weeks with the Damon braces, for Invisalign I just had something small, but after 2 days nothing was there.
- you can see how your teeth will look at the end.