How Does Invisalign Work?

Patients wanting straighter teeth without the discomfort and unsightliness of traditional metal braces, may want to consider Invisalign to address their orthodontic needs.  Invented roughly 20 years ago, Invisalign is a modern-day treatment customized specifically for the individual patient that uses a series of plastic aligner trays to gradually shift teeth into their desired position.  While many patients have likely heard of Invisalign, understanding how it works is vital in determining if it is the best treatment option to suit their needs.

Because Invisalign aligners use clear plastic and have no metal, they are nearly invisible so many patients find them more aesthetically pleasing and discrete than conventional braces.  As mentioned, the aligners are custom manufactured so that teeth are slightly straighter with each subsequent tray.  The teeth are moved up to 0.25 mm with each tray and every two weeks, are replaced a new aligner that the patient simply pops in.  As such, they are a very convenient straightening option for teens and adults.

The treatment process for Invisalign begins with an initial consultation with an experienced provider to determine if the aligners will work for the patient’s teeth.  It is important to note that not all orthodontists or dentists have experience or training with Invisalign.  In order to use Invisalign, providers are required to get specialized, ongoing training so patients should ensure they are using a qualified provider.

Once the initial consultation is complete, the dentist uses a digital scan and 3D imaging to precisely map the patient’s mouth and plan out the movement of the teeth during the treatment.  The images are then used to create the series of custom manufactured aligners.  Made of smooth plastic, free of BPA, the aligners are not irritating which allow for comfortable wear around the clock.  The patented thermoplastic design controls the force used to straighten the patient’s teeth.  Since only a few teeth get moved with each aligning tray, the timing of the force application is better controlled than metal braces.  The duration of treatment with Invisalign varies patient-to-patient but averages around 12 months.  In some cases, the dentist may recommend the use of a retainer after completing Invisalign treatments.

A variety of dental problems can be addressed by Invisalign including underbites, overbites, gaps between the teeth, and overcrowding.  In addition to the negative appearance that can result from these conditions, these issues can affect overall dental health.  Gapped teeth, for example, can leave gums unprotected leaving the patient susceptible to periodontal disease.  Crowded teeth can cause plaque to accumulate, which lead to cavities, since it is difficult to effectively floss and brush between the teeth.

One of the greatest qualities of using Invisalign, compared to metal braces, is it has minimal impact on daily life.  Since the aligners are removable, patients can simply take them out when eating which eliminates any necessary changes in their diet.  The removability feature also means that a patient can continue their normal flossing and brushing routines.  Finally, many patients find Invisalign to be more comfortable than metal braces which can irritate the inside of the cheeks.  While there may be some discomfort during the first few days of each new tray, Invisalign minimizes the pain and anxiety that is commonly found with metal braces.

More information on Invisalign : How Much Does Invisalign Cost?