Here at Designer Smiles, we’ve seen a number of changes to traditional braces in recent years, making them more comfortable and customizable than ever before. However, many patients are still on the fence about them, especially teens and adults. They worry that braces will change their appearance too much or disrupt their day-to-day life, which are understandable concerns. The good news is, there are other orthodontic options available for creating a healthier, straighter smile!
If you’ve been thinking about improving your smile but aren’t sure if traditional braces are for you, Invisalign could be exactly what you’re looking for. This clear aligner system offers patients a simple and discreet alternative to braces. You can get the same beautiful results without any brackets, wires, or bands! This makes Invisalign especially attractive to patients who want to avoid the appearance of traditional braces. It also makes it easy to keep your daily routine intact. But what exactly is Invisalign? Let’s explore how this innovative system works to align your teeth and improve your oral health.
What is Invisalign?
When we talk about orthodontic treatment, we’re generally referring to fixed and removable appliances. Braces are attached directly to the front of the teeth, and can only be removed by an experienced orthodontic professional. They are a fixed appliance. Invisalign aligners, on the other hand, are removable appliances. The aligners are custom-designed to fit your teeth snugly, but no part of them is actually attached to the teeth.
Invisalign uses a series of these removable aligners to shift your teeth in much the same way brackets and wires do. Although the design appears simple, it is deceptively so, as the aligners are made of a special type of thermoplastic resin. This material is strong enough to move the teeth into alignment over time. In order to do so, the aligners must be switched out at predetermined intervals throughout the treatment process.
How does Invisalign work?
The first step in your orthodontic journey will be a complimentary consultation with one of our doctors. During this appointment, we’ll discuss your orthodontic concerns and perform a thorough examination. This will help us determine if Invisalign would be a good fit for you and your smile.
If you decide to move ahead with treatment, we’ll begin mapping out a precise treatment plan for you using a highly detailed 3D scan of your teeth and gums. This plan will include the exact movements we want your teeth to make, fine-tuned to fractions of millimeters! It will also give us an indication of how long we expect your treatment to take.
We’ll also use this scan to create your custom aligners. These are made from Invisalign’s special SmartTrack® material. The comfortable plastic trays are virtually invisible, which patients love, and durable. Because every patient will respond to treatment in their own way, the total number of aligners needed throughout the process will vary. However, the average is usually somewhere between 10 and 48, with the total treatment time averaging between 5 and 15 months.
As the patient, you play an essential role in the success of your Invisalign treatment! Because the aligners are removable, it’s up to you to wear them as directed by our doctors. In order for the system to work, you will need to wear your aligners for 20-22 hours daily, throughout the course of treatment. You’ll also need to be vigilant about changing your aligners out for the next in the series. The exact timing will depend on your personalized treatment plan, but this generally happens every 1-2 weeks. This is how the system keeps up with the movements your teeth are making.
Just like with braces, regular check-ups are an important part of treatment. You’ll be scheduled for appointments in our office every 8-10 weeks or so. During these visits, Dr. Benton or Dr. Barry will check that everything is progressing according to your treatment plan. They’re necessary to keep things on track, so do your best not to miss any!
What advantages does Invisalign have over traditional braces?
Invisalign is more than an attractive alternative to traditional metal braces. The removable aligners allow for a freedom and flexibility other methods can’t match. One example of this is food restrictions. Many people who have worn braces will tell you that having to give up some of their favorite foods was one of the hardest parts of treatment. To protect the wires and brackets, patients in braces must steer clear of anything crunchy or chewy. But since Invisalign aligners are removable, you simply take them out any time you want to eat, then put them back in when you’re done. No food restrictions makes orthodontic treatment a lot more bearable!
Removable aligners make it easier to maintain a good dental hygiene routine, too. The wires, brackets, and bands that accompany traditional braces can make brushing and flossing effectively a difficult and time-consuming task. With Invisalign, aligners are removed before brushing and flossing as normal. Cleaning the aligners themselves is a snap, too! There are special kits designed to clean Invisalign aligners, or you can gently clean them using denture crystals and a soft toothbrush.
Removable aligners can also be a bonus for athletes (you can remove your Invisalign aligner and wear a regular mouthguard) and musicians (no wires or brackets to get in the way of you playing certain instruments.) Invisalign aligners can also be removed for short periods of time. This is perfect for those special events where you only want your natural smile showing, such as weddings, prom, and senior pictures.
Who is a good candidate for Invisalign?
In general, Invisalign tends to work best for adult and teen patients with mild to moderate orthodontic issues. Cases that are more complex or severe may require more precise tooth control than a removable aligner is able to achieve. During your initial consultation, Dr. Benton or Dr. Barry will determine if Invisalign is a good fit for you, or if you’d be better served by more traditional orthodontic treatment. We will only recommend the treatment we believe is best for your individual smile!
What happens once treatment is complete?
Whether you wear braces or aligners, your teeth will always remember their previous place in your mouth. Over time, they will naturally begin to drift back towards those positions if there’s nothing to stop them. That’s why you’ll hear us talk so much about how important retainers are! Once your treatment is complete, our office will provide you with a retainer. In order to maintain your newly straightened smile, you should always wear it exactly as directed.
See what Invisalign and Designer Smiles can do for you!
It’s easy to see why Invisalign continues to be the most popular alternative to braces. This exciting system is changing the way people view orthodontic treatment, and we’re proud to offer it to patients in Oxford and the surrounding communities.
If you’d like to learn more about Invisalign and what it can do for your smile, get in touch with our friendly team today to schedule your complimentary consultation! With Invisalign and Designer Smiles, you can achieve the smile you’ve always dreamed of and start smiling with confidence!