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To straighten teeth and receive a beautiful smile, traditional braces with metal brackets and wiring have long been used in orthodontics. However, the recent cutting-edge technology has offered a highly popular alternative known as Invisalign clear aligners. This time, instead of metal braces that were visible and noticeable in the mouth, you wear a series of clear plastic Invisalign trays that are both invisible and removable.
If you are not a fan of fixed braces and looking for removable and also more comfortable orthodontics, Invisalign is definitely your solution. Undergoing orthodontics usually takes time, so finding a method to make your treatment less obvious to others can be a preferable option, especially among adults.
What is Invisalign?
Invisalign is the brand name for a clear aligner type that uses a series of plastic trays to gradually shift the malposed teeth into the desired place. Invisalign uses advanced 3-D imaging of align technology in orthodontics. Invisalign® utilizes the proprietary materials from its Smart Track® system to fabricate strong flexible clear trays of thermoplastic type, which put constant pressure to move your teeth. First, the digital model of the impression of your teeth is scanned and then reconstructed with computer programs (called ClinCheck®). Then this technology in Invisalign® enables the orthodontists to make your custom-fit trays and fabricate the series of aligners needed to reach the perfect position for your teeth.
Invisalign produces a series of aligner trays that are replaced every 1-2 weeks. Each tray is designed to gradually shift your teeth, so you may feel that each one is different when you fit them over your teeth.
The Invisalign clear aligners slowly apply mild pressures on teeth and step by step move away your misaligned teeth into the correct location in the dental arch.
With Invisalign, your orthodontist maps out your entire alignment process from the beginning levels to a perfect jaw and teeth position. With the 3-D computer software, you and your orthodontist can see the ultimate results of your orthodontic treatment and the beautiful smile that you want.
Invisalign step-by-step process
To start your Invisalign orthodontics, there will be some straightforward steps that you go through:
- you should find an orthodontist skilled with Invisalign treatment.
Invisalign demands special training and not all dentists or orthodontists may provide the services that you want. Since there are specific software and technological equipment involved, you should look for a trained orthodontist.
For those who live in the United States, the UK, and Canada, the official Invisalign website is a good place to begin with. There, you can find your own orthodontist who provides Invisalign services.
- initial appointment.
After finding your dental specialist, an appointment is reserved. During this session, you can discuss with your orthodontist the preferences for perfectly-shaped teeth and a great smile appearance.
Your orthodontist will tell you whether you are eligible for Invisalign or if you need to try other alternatives for your orthodontics treatment.
- scanning and mold taking.
If Invisalign meets your needs, at that same visit, you can be assigned for scanning and mold taking of your teeth.
Your orthodontist will scan the entire arch of teeth and mouth from the inside by using scanning software and equipment tools like a wand device.
Sometimes, a plaster model or siloxane impression of your teeth is taken, which orthodontists can scan for your digital model reconstruction. Then your orthodontist submits the scans, molds, and all radiographic images to the technicians to the Invisalign company. This process can be done in their office if orthodontists have access to facilities like ClinCheck® system.
Finally, in the cast production facility, your custom-fit clear aligners are made according to the 3-D digital model. Then a series of Invisalign aligners are produced according to the cast models.
- the first Invisalign clear aligner is fitted.
Once your Invisalign trays are made, your orthodontist calls you to wear them and begin your treatment.
Aligners can also be designed in a way that bite problems in jaws can be corrected, so don’t get surprised if you see your Invisalign with button and elastics designs. Surely, your orthodontist will provide the dos and don’ts of Invisalign care.
You wear the first Invisalign trays. Next, appointments are scheduled for the replacement of the next aligner tray every one or two weeks.
Your commitment and compliance is crucial for Invisalign treatment. The longer you wear the aligner, the better and faster you get the results. You should wear them for a maximum of hours daily (18-22 hours or more).
- follow-up visits are scheduled.
You will need to visit your orthodontist or dentist for follow-up appointments. You receive your new aligner trays each time and the amount of progress is checked.
Depending on the treatment time, you swap your new tray for the next one until the end of the orthodontic period.
To better straighten your teeth into the perfect shape and location, each Invisalign tray is uniquely made. Therefore, these designs make possible the movement of your teeth and jaws into the desired alignment.
What are the dental problems that Invisalign can fix?
Invisalign used to be implemented for treating minor orthodontic problems, but now it is also used for major corrections in orthodontics. If an orthodontist understands that discrepancy in jaws and teeth is so severe that requires a difficult treatment, he or she may use the combination of fixed braces and Invisalign.
In cases of complex bite problems, Invisalign may be a limited choice as a treatment.
According to Invisalign website, Invisalign can be used to treat the following dental problems:
- Crowded teeth
- It happens when teeth have twisted and rotated due to a lack of enough space in the jaws
- Gap teeth
- There are spaces and gaps between teeth
- Rotated and misaligned teeth that need to be straightened
- Open bite
- Lower and upper teeth don’t fit on each other and there is a gap between them
- It is a type of malocclusion that upper and lower teeth don’t align well and fall inside or outside on each other. It can affect one tooth or all teeth in the dental arch row.
- Overbite (deep bite)
- Upper front teeth overlap lower front teeth. In this type of malocclusion, front teeth in the upper jaw have fallen over the front teeth in the lower jaw, which is also called a deep bite.
- Lower front teeth are in forward position and protrude excessively and upper front teeth fall inside and behind the lower teeth.
Pros and cons of Invisalign clear aligners
There are some reasons why people choose Invisalign clear aligners over traditional metal braces.
People are opting for Invisalign and these amazing orthodontic pieces have hit the market in both its cosmetic advantage and at the same time a functional treat. If you are the right candidate, undergoing your orthodontic will become a pleasing experience with Invisalign. We will go over the benefits and limitations of Invisalign in orthodontics:
Pros of Invisalign
What makes Invisalign clear aligners special is that they are comfortable. Unlike the traditional braces in which you may experience the irritation of gums and inside your mouth by wires or brackets, here you feel much more comfortable.
It only needs a little getting-used-to at first, and the tight feeling on your teeth is usual. After all, it is orthodontic and teeth should be moved and aligned.
You can easily remove your Invisalign trays. There is no attachment and no retention other than your aligner sitting on your teeth. It is a huge step and favored by anyone who can’t take fixed braces being in their mouth all the time.
An important tip: Invisalign clear aligners are snapped out easily and put back over your teeth, but it doesn’t mean that you skip wearing the aligner. Remove your Invisalign during eating, brushing, and flossing. And don’t forget to snap them over your teeth as soon as possible. Remember the daily hours you need to have the aligners on.
- Invisible and aesthetics
One big advantage of Invisalign that is generating the headlines is its invisibility and clear-colored plastic shape. You go along with your social activities and your daily communication with others without any fears.
Invisalign aligners are less obvious and present a normal look even from near, unlike metal braces that are easily noticeable. With the clear trays worn over your teeth, you can smile whenever you want and show the aesthetics of improved teeth.
- Easy mouth cleaning and maintenance care
You don’t have the difficulty in eating and cleaning your teeth since you remove your Invisalign. This, in turn, brings about a great benefit for flossing and brushing your teeth easily.
In metal braces, food particles can get trapped between the brackets and wires, which makes cleaning a demanding task. But with removed Invisalign, you will not experience the limitation of eating or avoiding certain foods.
Once the Invisalign is taken out from your mouth, you can also take proper care of them by thorough cleaning tasks. You can perform what your orthodontist recommends for the maintenance of the aligners in an efficient and much better way.
Cons of Invisalign
- Commitment and compliance is a must.
While traditional braces are fixed over your teeth, Invisalign requires your responsibility to achieve maximum achievement.
You must not remove the aligners when you don’t need to.
Invisalign is designed to rotate and displace the misaligned teeth into the normal position, so unnecessary removal will slow down the process.
You end up spending additional time wearing the Invisalign clear aligners in your treatment. Thus, your commitment to wearing the aligners for longer hours results in improved teeth and jaw correction in the fastest period of time.
- Invisalign has limitations for treating very complex issues.
For severe cases of bite problems and dental issues, Invisalign may not be recommended.
According to a research study published in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, certain dental malocclusions with Invisalign cannot be improved as effectively as conventional braces. Therefore, your orthodontist may not choose to treat your complex dental problems with Invisalign.
Invisalign cost and insurance coverage
The average cost of Invisalign can be between $3,000 to $7,000. That price range can have ups and down due to a number of factors such as:
- The treatment time and how long you need for your orthodontics with Invisalign
- The supplementary procedures that you need in order to wear Invisalign during your treatment, for example, a teeth whitening procedure, getting a restoration, and oral and dental health check-ups
- The insurance company, which may cover partial expenses of your Invisalign
- The dentist or orthodontist’s location. Sometimes, a trip to a foreign country with a board-certified dentist who provides Invisalign service can decrease your costs dramatically.
There are several ways that you can make your Invisalign affordable and save on costs.
- The first
It is the insurance provider that may cover part of the cost. You can call your insurance provider or get access to insurance services from your workplace.
If the orthodontics is not issued as a health coverage plan, you can insist that your orthodontics is needed, for your overall health is at potential risk. Find out more about Invisalign insurance coverage here.
- The second
Another way to help make your Invisalign affordable is through flexible spending accounts (FSA) or health saving accounts (HSA). Simply, FSA and HSA are tax-free accounts that you can set aside a sum of money for medical needs. Your employer manages the account by deduction from your paycheck. Or you may need to meet certain standards to be eligible for having one.
- The last
The final suggestion is to discuss with your dentist/orthodontist for a flexible payment plan. They may offer you a manageable payment method, so you don’t need to pay the whole lump sum.
The final say
Since the development of clear aligners in the late 90s, Invisalign has revolutionized orthodontics treatment. Sometimes people ask how aligners work in order to know these widely used plastic-like trays better. They wonder if clear aligners can compete with metal counterparts.
But they may not know the facts, science, and biomechanics behind the designs of Invisalign. Apart from the aesthetic benefits, the functional advantages are as efficient as braces unless a severe dental problem exists. Even with serious cases, your orthodontist can offer a combination of traditional braces for a period of time and reverse back to the clear aligners.
The most important issue is that Invisalign is as effective as braces for any individual who can be a good candidate for Invisalign from the dental specialist’s perspective.