You may have heard about Invisalign from friends or seen the television commercials, but there are lots of myths floating around out there too. Since part of the foundation of Empress Walk Dental is providing an education experience for our patients, we have created this page to be a reliable source of information on this exciting orthodontic treatment.
First, the basics. Invisalign is an alternative to traditional braces with their brackets and wires. Instead of using all of that metal, Invisalign uses clear plastic tooth aligners, which can be removed for the purposes of eating, brushing one’s teeth, and so on. Our patients who have taken advantage of Invisalign love the fact that no one knows they are even wearing braces – their braces are effectively “invisible.”
Invisalign is the brainchild of a company called Align Technologies, which brought Invisalign to the world of orthodontics in 1999. The idea quickly caught on with orthodontists, who saw the enormous appeal of the removable clear plastic aligners as a tool for making the teeth move into the desired position over time. Patients found them to be both comfortable and far more attractive than traditional metal braces.
Though not everyone is a candidate for Invisalign, those who have been able to be treated with Invisalign enjoy the fact that their appearances are unchanged by having this form of braces. The simple appeal of the “invisible braces” concept has propelled Invisalign to become a standout brand in the orthodontic field.
Although Align Technologies perfected the concept of a clear plastic aligner that straighten teeth, the idea was not brand-new. As early as the 1940s, the concept of a removable, more attractive form of braces had been introduced. Later, in the 1970s, dentists explored the idea that dental impressions could be used to devise the ideal aligners to straighten teeth. Now this process has been streamlined and simplified by Invisalign; our patients only need to have one set of photos and impressions taken at their initial consultation. After that, they are on their way to a beautiful new smile!
The impressions we have taken are sent to our partners at Align Technologies, who use a state-of-the-art CAD/CAM program to synthesize the data and create a customized series of clear plastic aligners and coordinating treatment plan for each specific patient. The software uses an algorithm to project how the teeth might be moved little by little into the ideal position.
Your progress will be monitored regularly by your orthodontist, who will provide you with your aligners at your checkup appointments, which will take place every 4-6 weeks. Each set of aligners moves your teeth approximately 0.25-0.33 mm during the two-week period for which you will wear them. The success of your treatment depends upon you wearing your aligners for a minimum of 20 hours per day, taking them out only to eat, brush and floss your teeth, and drink certain beverages.
The average patient goes through 20-30 aligners over the course of their treatment, which usually takes less than a year to complete. Please keep in mind, though, that each patient’s situation is different, and since our treatments are customized for each individual, your treatment time will depend upon your needs.
When you have your initial consultation, your orthodontist will be happy to give you a estimate for how long your treatment will take.
While Invisalign is certainly an excellent orthodontic tool, it is not right for everyone, and there is still a place for traditional metal braces in the orthodontics world.
Those patients who have complicated bite issues will be better served by getting traditional metal braces with wires and brackets. While traditional braces are not as attractive as Invisalign, they are not as large as they used to be and they have become much more efficient, meaning that patients spend less time in treatment than they would have previously.
It is your orthodontist’s job to determine which of these two treatments is the best solution for you. Our orthodontist here at Empress Walk Dental are highly educated and are equipped to make the right decision for each of our patients.
Patients experiencing the following issues will be considered good candidates for traditional metal braces rather than Invisalign:
Our orthodontist have treated many patients over the years, and experience has taught them which patients are the best candidates for Invisalign treatment.
Patients who will get the most benefit from Invisalign treatment are those who: