Invisalign: A Clear Alternative to Braces

Gone are the days when people need to put up with uncomfortable and painful metal-wire braces just to achieve a beautiful smile. With the advent of Invisalign, repairing crooked or spaced teeth has become easier and more convenient.

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign is an advanced system for closing gaps between and straightening crooked teeth. It is offered as an alternative to traditional metal braces that have long been used in conventional orthodontic practice. Invisalign uses the latest computerized technology and 3-D modelling to produce a series of clear plastic aligners. These aligners are virtually unnoticeable. Hence, many patients refer to them as invisible braces. They are customarily fabricated to exactly fit a patient’s teeth.

First introduced in 1999 by Align Technologies, the Invisalign system is perhaps the most widely known alternative to traditional braces, primarily because the clear aligners are made to be more esthetically pleasing than the metal wires and brackets of dental braces.

How Does Invisalign Work?

As compared to its predecessors, the Invisalign system is simpler, requiring only a single set of photographs and impressions of the teeth taken during the initial consultation.

These impressions are sent to the Invisalign factory where the clear orthodontic appliance is fabricated. To ensure that the series of customized aligners fit perfectly, a three-dimensional computer projection of how the teeth will be moved is developed based on the impressions. Once the treatment plan is approved, a plastic resin aligner is created for each simulation.

The orthodontist will then dispense the aligners in groups of one or two during regular check-up appointments to make sure that each phase of the treatment is properly monitored and managed. For about two weeks, these clear aligners must be worn in specific order as it is during this time that the appliances move the teeth incrementally for about .25 to .33 millimeters into place. Although they can be removed when you are drinking certain beverages, eating, brushing and flossing, orthodontists recommend that these appliances must be worn for no less than 20 hours a day. This ensures the success of the repositioning of the teeth.

In a typical treatment plan, a patient will require 20 to 30 clear orthodontic aligners for both their upper and lower teeth to achieve the results that they desire. While most adult patients complete the treatment in about a year, Invisalign treatment time would still vary and would depend on the extent of the alignment problem.

What Does Invisalign Treat?

Invisalign are for teenagers and adults who have a completely erupted set of permanent teeth and can follow treatment recommendations faithfully. If the prescribed plan and recommendations are not met, the treatment’s success may be compromised. However, if done as directed, Invisalign can correct dental issues, including:

Spaced Teeth – Too much gaps between teeth is often caused by the abnormal growth of the jaw. Also, if there is extra space in the jaw because of missing teeth, the rest of the teeth may tend to shift, creating gaps between them. This dental problem can further lead to more severe problems such as periodontal pockets, and other gum problems.

Crowded Teeth – While spaced teeth occurs when there is more than enough room in the jaw for the teeth, crowded teeth happens when there is inadequate space in the jaw for all your teeth to fit normally. If this problem is neglected, it can get worse and may even lead to decayed teeth, plaque buildup, and gum disease.

Cross bite – This mild problem is a result of misaligned upper and lower jaws. When your jaws are misaligned, it causes the front, sides, or both those parts of the upper teeth to bite on the inside of the lower teeth. Untreated cross bite can lead to periodontal problems like bone loss and gum disease, as well as abnormal tooth chipping and wearing.

Overbite – This occurs when the upper teeth bite over the lower ones. Commonly, overbite is caused by poor oral habits, overdevelopment of the jaw bone, or genetics. If left untreated, overbite can further lead to fractured or chipped teeth, as well as gum disease.

Under bite – Because of lower jaw overgrowth, or upper jaw undergrowth, the lower teeth extend past the front upper teeth, resulting to an under bite. This particular dental problem can cause sore jaw and joints.

There are certain cases where Invisalign may not be the ideal dental solution. In cases like complex malocclusions, traditional braces may be your next bet. Consult your dentist to determine which option is right for you.