Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Invisalign

How does Invisalign treatment work? How does Invisalign work to move the teeth?

Invisalign treatment consists of a series of clear, removable aligners that are custom-made just for you. Each set of aligners is precisely made to make slight adjustments to your smile, based on the precise plan your orthodontist created for you. Approximately every two weeks, you'll move to a new set of aligners, until your desired tooth movement is reached.

Invisalign aligners move teeth by placing the appropriate controlled force. The aligners elicit controlled force, meaning that only the teeth designated to move during that time frame will move. Your orthodontist will carefully map out the sequence in which your teeth should move in order to reach your smile goals, and the series of aligners will be created with that in mind.

More questions about Invisalign 20 Things to Know Before Getting Invisalign

Are Invisalign aligners more comfortable than regular braces?

Invisalign aligners are made of a smooth, thermoplastic material that fits right over your teeth, just like a retainer or whitening tray. They are comfortable, and won't irritate the inside of your mouth as metal brackets and wires can. However, at the beginning of each new aligner set, you may experience some slight discomfort or pressure. This discomfort is normal and signals that the aligners are doing their job, and should go away in just a day or two.

What is the cost of invisalign compared to standard braces covered by insurance?

The cost of Invisalign is slightly higher than standard metal braces. Metal braces cost on average between $2,500 and $6,000. Invisalign costs on average between $3,500 and $8,000. Most dental insurance programs will cover Invisalign the same way they would standard braces, but you should always check with your insurance.

What is Invisalign Teen? Does it differ from Invisalign?

Invisalign Teen is the same tooth straightening system as regular Invisalign and offers the same advantages. The teen years can be difficult, especially for teens who may have a less than perfect smile. But, Invisalign Teen allows them to get the smile they've always wanted, without drawing attention to their problem. And they can play sports without worrying about mouth injuries and requires less time in the orthodontist's office.

Why does Invisalign Teen have blue indicators?

The blue indicators on Invisalign Teen aligners ensure that the aligners are being worn properly. Each set needs to be worn a minimum of 22 hours a day to ensure effectiveness. As it gets closer to time to move to a new set of aligners, if the aligners are being worn properly, the color of the indicator will begin to fade.

Do I need to wear a retainer after Invisalign treatment?

After any orthodontic treatment, you will need to wear a retainer to ensure your new smile stays straight and beautiful. After Invisalign treatment, most orthodontists will recommend Vivera retainers. They are similar to Invisalign aligners and are 30% stronger than other clear aligners currently on the market. Your orthodontist will determine when and for how long you should wear your retainer. It is important to follow your orthodontist's instructions to ensure your teeth do not drift back to their previous locations.

What are the pros and cons of Invisalign compared to traditional braces?

There are many advantages to Invisalign treatment. The aligners are clear, making them virtually invisible to others during treatment. They are also comfortable and removable. That means you don't have to worry about irritations to the inside of your mouth, and you don't have to change your diet or oral care routine to accommodate them.

However, the greatest advantage of Invisalign can also be a disadvantage. Because the aligners are removable, patients can forget to wear them or take them out whenever they want. To be effective, the aligners need to be worn at least 22 hours a day.

The aligners must be removed when eating and drinking anything, other than plain water. Eating with the aligners in could damage them, making them less effective. Likewise, drinking hot beverages or leaving your aligners in a warm place could warp the plastic of the aligner. Drinking dark beverages, such as soda, coffee or red wine could stain the aligners.

Invisalign is also a bit more expensive than standard braces, and may not be appropriate for all patients. Your orthodontist can discuss with you the treatment he or she believes will work best to correct your bite.

What patients are ideal candidates for Invisalign? Can Invisalign work for severe alignment problems?

Invisalign has made great strides in its technology and can now treat many more malocclusions than ever before. More severe cases, however, may require the use of buttons and attachments, which can make the treatment more visible to others. These buttons and attachments provide additional force to guide hard to move teeth to their ideal locations. For the most severe alignment problems, standard metal braces may still be the best option.

What is the treatment time for Invisalign like compared to braces? Will I need to visit the orthodontist as often?

The length of time depends one each individual patient's issue and how fast his or her teeth move. The average length of time in Invisalign is 12 months for adults; treatment time for teens varies and will be determined by your orthodontist. However, as compared to standard braces, you'll visit the orthodontist's office less frequently and spend less time in the chair when you are there.

How many Invisalign aligners are included in treatment? Will the aligners need to be refined during treatment?

The number of Invisalign trays required depends on each case and can vary greatly between patients. One patient may have a minor malocclusion that only requires 11 trays, while another patient may have a more severe case that requires 30 or more trays. There is no set number of trays when having Invisalign treatment, but there will most likely be some refinements made along the way. This will depend on how compliant the patient is in wearing the trays as directed, as well as how well the teeth respond to movement.

How do you clean Invisalign aligners and keep them properly maintained? Will they begin to smell?

Caring for your Invisalign aligners is a breeze. You can use the special Invisalign Cleaning system available through your orthodontist for best results. But, you can also brush and rinse them with lukewarm water. Be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush so you don't scratch the aligners.

It is important to rinse your aligners every time you take them out to eat or brush. Dried saliva and plaque can lead to bacteria growth that will leave a foul smell if you don't remove it. Soak your aligners periodically, either using the special Invisalign cleaning system, or you can use denture cleaner.

Is there an age restriction to Invisalign?

You are never too old to straighten your teeth! Invisalign can be used on adults of all ages safely. Invisalign can be used in adolescents and adults, but teens should speak to their orthodontist about whether Invisalign is the right option.

Are there alternatives to Invisalign?

There are a couple of alternatives to Invisalign treatment. The first is ClearCorrect, which is a very similar product to Invisalign. It also uses clear aligner trays and is removable, but may not be available in every orthodontist's office.

Lingual braces are another interesting alternative for patients looking to straighten their teeth in the most aesthetically pleasing way. Lingual braces fit along the tongue side of teeth, making them almost invisible to others. They may not be appropriate for all patients, however.

Clear or ceramic braces are another popular options, as well. They will be visible to others, but will blend in better than standard metal braces. They use brackets and wires that are colored like your teeth, but offer the same reliability as metal braces.

Are there issues Invisalign can't fix? Can Invisalign correct overbites, underbites, crossbites, spacing and crowding issues?

In many patients, Invisalign can be used to effectively treat a host of malocclusions. Invisalign is very successful in treating crowding, spacing and shifting issues, and your orthodontist can determine if any other issue you have can be successfully treated using the aligners.

More severe malocclusions, such as crossbites, overbites, and underbites, may require the use of buttons and attachments to ensure proper tooth movement. Contact your orthodontist today to learn if your malocclusion can be properly treated using Invisalign.

What are Invisalign buttons and attachments?

For more severe malocclusions, your orthodontist may need to use buttons and attachments with your Invisalign aligners to ensure your teeth move to their ideal locations. Attachments are small, tooth colors dots that are placed at certain locations on specific teeth. They are used to create more leverage to help the teeth move – the attachment provides an anchor point by which the aligner can apply more force to move the teeth.

Buttons are small brackets made of plastic or metal that will serve as anchor points for elastics. Just as with attachments, sometimes buttons and elastics are required to apply the necessary force needed to move more difficult teeth.

Is there a DIY option for Invisalign?

There are online options available for patients to get Invisalign-like trays, without an orthodontist. Programs advertise clear aligners, without having to visit an orthodontist. Patients do an impression at home and upload some images, then receive remote invisible aligner treatment. Dr. Updike strongly warns against programs like this, however, for a few reasons.

First, not every patient is ideal for Invisalign. Especially in adults, there may be underlying issues that can make tooth movement difficult, such as gum disease or bone loss. Only an in-person consultation with an orthodontist will tell you that.

Second, Invisalign treatment is carefully planned by your orthodontist based on 3D scanning and imaging, as well as a physical examination. Your orthodontist has the training and skill to create a customized treatment plan that will fit your individual needs.

With DIY options, you have no idea who is guiding your treatment, and if a problem should arise, you have no way of knowing if a licensed and certified orthodontist is consulting on your case.

Do wisdom teeth need to be removed for Invisalign?

Wisdom teeth removal varies from patient to patient. For some patients, it might be advised to have wisdom teeth removed prior to treatment, while for others, it can wait until treatment is completed. Your orthodontist will be able to determine what will be best for you, and if your smile can be preserved once wisdom teeth erupt.

What are Invisalign aligners made of?

Invisalign aligners are made of a clear, medical grade thermoplastic. They are BPA free and made with USP Class VI medical grade, high molecular weight polyurethane resins.

Can I get Invisalign treatment from my general dentist?

When it comes to straightening your smile, a certified orthodontist is the best person to do it. An orthodontist is a dentist, but has gone on to complete additional years of schooling and training to become specialized in orthodontics. Because an orthodontist corrects bites day in and day out, he or she will have the unique knowledge needed to carefully and precisely plan your treatment.

Can Invisalign cause decay?

Because the Invisalign aligners can trap food particles and bacteria against the teeth, it is important to pay close attention to your oral hygiene while in Invisalign treatment. Rinse your aligner every time you remove it from your mouth and brush your teeth after eating and drinking. Brush and soak your aligner regularly to ensure plaque and bacteria are removed.

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