Looking to Set Things Straight in the New Year?
The start of a new year is a time for resolutions and goals. Many people commit to making healthier choices in the year ahead. Others resolve to finally do something about _______ (fill in the blank with something you have always wanted to do but have put off for quite some time).
One of the most common things we see our adult patients putting off is teeth straightening with Invisalign clear aligners. It seems to always move to the back burner in favor of other, more pressing wants. Is 2020 the year you finally set things (and by “things”, we mean your teeth) straight?
How Does Invisalign Work?
Invisalign moves the teeth by putting precisely prescribed pressure through closely fitting clear aligners that cover the teeth. Unlike traditional braces, which use brackets and wires to pull the teeth into position, Invisalign aligners push the teeth into position. Aside from this pushing vs. pulling mechanism, the underlying method is the same.
The pressure on the teeth causes activation of cells in the bone surrounding the teeth, allowing the teeth to change position and move within the bone. Improper pressures can cause these cells to malfunction, leading to bone loss, which is our fear with unsupervised tooth movement like direct-to-consumer clear aligners. But that’s a topic for another blog entirely…..
Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren work with orthodontic lab technicians at Align technology to prescribe the appropriate timing, direction, and amount of tooth movement for your series of aligners. Everything occurs virtually through three-dimensional imaging software before the technician makes the aligners using CAD/CAM technology.
Your dentist will “deliver” the aligners to you with important instructions for use, and then the magic happens. Your teeth will gradually move into the projected positions as you wear each aligner. The exact prescription may be different for each patient depending on your unique needs, but the general rules are this:
- You wear each aligner for about two weeks.
- You wear the aligners for a minimum of 22 hours each day.
- You see your dentist for important monitoring and adjustment visits about every six weeks.
Who is a Candidate for Invisalign?
Invisalign is capable of correcting most orthodontic problems, including crooked teeth, spaces or gaps, and crossbites (when a lower tooth comes outside an upper tooth when the teeth are together). We can also use Invisalign to correct minor bite misalignments. Invisalign is a wonderful option for patients who had traditional braces in the past and have suffered relapse.
Who is NOT a Candidate for Invisalign?
Major orthodontic problems, such as large overbites, underbites or open bites, are not easily fixed with Invisalign. Patients with severe gag reflexes may not be able to tolerate wearing the clear aligners over the teeth. Because the aligners require insertion and removal multiple times each day, people with limited use of their hands and/or fingers may not be good candidates.
Also, someone who is not committed to wearing the aligners for at least 22 hours a day is not a good candidate. This is the most difficult characteristic to judge from an outsider’s perspective, so you cannot depend on the dentist to know whether you will be diligent with the aligners. You know yourself best. If you know that you are unlikely to wear the aligners and follow the instructions as closely as possible, you may not be a great candidate for Invisalign.
How Long Does Invisalign Take?
The length of Invisalign treatment depends on the severity of the orthodontic problem. Because the average Invisalign patient is correcting moderate crowding (crooked teeth), most people complete their orthodontic treatment in about eighteen months.
There are certain types of tooth movement that are more difficult than others are. Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren know when a tooth will require more attention and additional accessories to aid its movement. In these cases, all you have to do is follow their instructions. Just know that movements that are more difficult could cause your treatment to take longer than the original estimate.
What is the Most Important Thing to Know about Invisalign?
The most important thing anyone considering Invisalign should know is that a great majority of the treatment’s success depends on YOU!
One of the biggest advantages of Invisalign, its being removable, is also a disadvantage. Being able to remove the aligners is an advantage because it allows you to perform normal oral hygiene and take the aligners out for special occasions (speeches, photo shoots, weddings, etc . . .). However, being removable also allows you to not wear them as much as you need to in order to achieve predictable tooth movements. As opposed to traditional braces which do not give you the option of removing them and interrupting tooth movements, Invisalign puts the power in your hands to either keep straightening or stop working altogether. You are in control.
More Questions about Invisalign?
If you think 2020 is the year you finally get to set your smile straight with Invisalign, call Designer Smiles to set up a consultation with Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren. With over 13 years and hundreds of cases of Invisalign experience, the doctors at Designer Smiles will help you achieve your smile goals this year.