Modern orthodontic care primarily offers two options: traditional braces that use metal brackets and clear aligners like Invisalign. Removable orthodontic aligners are the treatment of choice for many, especially teens and adults. While children are glad to join their peers who have metal braces, those with professional jobs or highly conscious of their appearance prefer the more discreet options available with Invisalign.
Invisalign works well for mild to moderate alignment issues. The process uses custom trays made of clear, flexible plastic. They are effective, nearly invisible, and can be removed for eating, drinking, and cleaning. If you’ve been putting off getting treatment because you do not want to wear traditional braces, you may prefer Invisalign for discreet treatment.
How Invisalign Works
Invisalign aligners operate much the same way as traditional braces, with the application of carefully controlled pressure to shift teeth into the best position. Specialized computer software helps to design a plan for moving your teeth from their current position to the best alignment. The specific movement is broken down into stages, with two plastic trays for each stage, one to fit over your top teeth and one for your bottom teeth.
You will wear need to wear each set of aligners for two weeks, for at 22 hours per day. Then, you move up to the next set of aligners in your series to achieve gradual movements. This pattern is repeated until your teeth are optimally aligned.
Invisalign clear aligners take a few months to a year to complete. The duration of Invisalign treatment differs for each person depending on the complexity of the issues. Simply put, if you don’t wear them, they won’t work. This fact makes Invisalign treatment best suited for adults and responsible teens.
Some of the benefits you can enjoy during your treatment include:
- Better Oral Hygiene: The trays are easily removed, so you can clean your teeth more effectively than if you were wearing metal braces.
- A Subtle Look: If you prefer orthodontic treatment to be discreet or feel that metal braces don’t fit with your self-image, the nearly invisible trays may work for you.
- Variety of Diet: With metal wires and brackets, some diet alterations are necessary. With aligners, you can still bite into a crisp apple or a chewy bagel.
- Comfortable: The flexible, soft material of Invisalign trays will not irritate the soft tissues of the mouth as metal wires and braces can.
- Protect Against Teeth Grinding: If you have a grinding habit, clear aligners can create a cushion to protect your teeth from excessive wear.
Invisalign Compared to Other Clear Aligners
Many dentists and orthodontists prefer Invisalign because it comes with more resources, such as top-notch planning software, making successful treatment easier. Invisalign now uses a patented smart track material, which many patients report as more comfortable.
You may have heard of “remote” teeth aligning, where you send an oral impression to a remote orthodontist who creates a treatment plan. You are then mailed your aligners and wear them according to package instructions. There are some serious downsides to these options, including:
- The kit for getting impressions can be complicated to use and getting this first stage wrong will cause difficulties in your treatment. Your dentist can get a high-quality, professional scan that will set your treatment up correctly and reduce the risks.
- You don’t get the one-on-one face time with professional to check your progress, encourage you, and possibly alter your treatment if required.
- If something goes wrong, it is difficult to fix the problem. Your dentist has the experience to see trouble before it even starts.
While mail-order aligners might be appealing for adults on a strict budget, visiting a dental professional in person is well worth the money. Invisalign has a decade of research that goes into its product, along with great treatment planning tools and some of the best certification training and ongoing education programs for professionals.
These factors are important to consider, especially if you have a more complex case. For simpler cases, though, these Invisalign alternatives may provide a less expensive choice.
Care for Invisalign-Treated Teeth
As mentioned, one of the major advantages of the Invisalign system is that the trays can be removed for easy cleaning. However, you must brush your teeth after each meal or snack so that food will not get attached to the aligners.
Any leftover food or sugar build-up could cause tooth decay and gum disease. This means that you must remove your aligners for eating and drinking everything except water. The aligners will have to be cleaned regularly, and you can do this by removing them, brushing, and rinsing them with warm water.
Remember that wearing clear aligners is very different from wearing braces, but the importance of retaining your results post-treatment is the same. The most important thing to remember is to wear your aligners exactly as prescribed after your treatment is completed to protect your investment. Stick to the treatment plan, and you’ll soon find yourself with a straighter, healthier smile that fills you with confidence.