With the rise of Instagram and its influencers, everyone has become increasingly more conscious of their smiles. So naturally, straightening teeth with invisible aligners is on more people’s radars with many now wondering, “Can I do Invisalign to straighten my teeth?” Invisalign is the most popular treatment available to straighten teeth without the hassle of metal wires and brackets. If you think you’re a suitable Invisalign candidate or you’re getting ready for the process, here’s everything that you need to know before getting started.
Invisalign: The Basics
Invisalign is one of many clear aligner companies used to straighten teeth. While other companies became strong competitors once Invisalign lost exclusivity on some of its patents, Invisalign still has the advantage of being around the longest and thus, being the most well-known.
Unlike braces that are metal, bulky, and unattractive, Invisalign provides light, removeable, plastic trays that are relatively invisible and allow patients the ability to easily clean their teeth without having to thread floss under metal wires. As Invisalign treatment progresses, patients move through a series of trays with each tray making gradual movements in the teeth.
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What to Expect During the Invisalign Appointments
During the first consultation visit, the dentist gathers important records to send to Invisalign; impressions or a digital scan are taken, along with photos of the teeth and patient’s face. Invisalign inputs the records into a digital software that the dentist uses to plan how the teeth will move into an ideal position. Once finalized, the dentist presents the treatment plan, commonly called the ClinCheck, to the patient along with any pertinent consent and financial forms. During this time the dentist goes into more detail about what the treatment will entail, allowing the patient to have all their questions answered. If the patient approves the treatment, then Invisalign will start 3-D printing the trays.
Once printed, it takes about 2-3 weeks for the trays to be delivered to the office. During the patient’s first tray delivery visit, some teeth may need to be filed in between to make room for overcrowded teeth to straighten out. The amount that is filed is extremely minimal, never exceeding 0.25mm on each tooth, and is completely painless requiring no anesthesia. Additionally, buttons are almost always bonded to the fronts of certain teeth using tooth-colored filling material. These resemble the brackets on braces and are necessary to help the trays grip the teeth in a certain way to produce different movements. Unlike metal brackets, however, these buttons are less visible since they are made with tooth-colored composite material.
The trays are delivered in sets of anywhere from 3-6 trays at a time, and the patients are instructed to change them out on prescheduled days ranging from seven to 14 days. During each subsequent visit, when the next set of trays are to be delivered, the dentist will check the patient’s bite to ensure no teeth are hitting too hard and causing interferences in the movements. She will also floss the teeth to see if any contacts are too tight or too open. Most importantly, she will check to make sure that the old and new trays are fitting properly over the teeth to ensure that everything is moving according to plan.
Important Things to Remember Regarding an Invisalign Treatment
While all the specifics of Invisalign treatment should be discussed beforehand, here are some important details to remember when it comes to obtaining the results that you want with Invisalign:
- When first wearing the aligners, you may notice a bit of a lisp. Do not fret, the lisp goes away after a few days.
- Each tray is worn anywhere from seven to 14 days. Since there are larger movements happening in the earlier phases of treatment, the trays are typically worn longer during this time. Nearing the end of the journey, your dentist may allow you to change the trays out every week.
- Invisalign is generally not very painful, however, when each tray is changed out there may be some initial discomfort and pressure. We always advise you to change the trays out at night so you can sleep through any initial discomfort. Over-the-counter pain relievers me also be indicated as needed.
- To ensure the treatment goes as scheduled, you are instructed to wear the trays for no less than 22 hours every day—two hours being allotted for eating and brushing. It is important to note, that unlike traditional braces that are stuck to your teeth, Invisalign trays are removable and rely solely on patient compliance. The less compliant you are, the more likely your treatment will be delayed!
- To help with jaw alignment, rubber bands may be placed in the upper and lower teeth, just like with braces. These can be worn for different lengths of time throughout the day depending on your specific treatment.
- It’s important to keep your trays and the buttons on your teeth clean because they can catch stain. Avoid drinking liquids that can stain the trays when they are in. Also, you must keep track of your buttons. Should one fall off, you need to see your dentist ASAP to have it reattached as it could impact the straightening process.
- It’s possible that not all teeth may move according to plan, so more trays may be needed to do refining movements. If this is the case, new impressions or scans, and photos will be taken.
- Post treatment, retainers need to be worn all day for a period of three to six months. This is to make sure that all teeth remain where they are and don’t revert to their original position. Once this is achieved, retainers must be worn on a nightly basis or else your teeth will shift again. It is a serious misconception that retainers only need to be worn for a short while after any teeth straightening treatment. Too many patients overlook the importance of wearing retainers which is why we see too many cases relapse. So, wear your retainers!
Invisalign is a wonderful solution if you’re looking for a way to correct your smile. While there may be some maintenance to perfect your smile, it will be worth it in the end. Schedule a consultation today