What is Invisalign®?
Invisalign® offers a revolutionary technique to straighten your teeth more comfortably and discreetly. The virtually invisible teeth aligners used for Invisalign® treatments are clear, removable, and unlike traditional metal braces in almost every way. Our Invisalign® cosmetic dentist, Megan Dietz, DDS, offers these clear aligners as a way to improve the appearance of your teeth without the discomfort and self-consciousness associated with other orthodontic procedures.
- Invisalign® vs. Braces
- Invisalign® Candidates
- How Does Invisalign® Work?
- Invisalign® Process
- Wearing Invisalign® Aligners
- Invisalign® Treatment Time
- Invisalign® Maintenance
- Invisalign® Cost
- Invisalign® Alternatives
- DIY Teeth Straightening
- Invisalign® FAQs
Invisalign® vs. Braces
For patients who are looking to correct crooked or crowded teeth without the pain and aesthetic disadvantages of traditional metal braces, Invisalign® could be the perfect solution. Invisalign® consists of a series of clear aligners that are customized to fit your teeth. The aligners can be removed while eating, drinking, brushing and flossing, making it easier to maintain good oral hygiene and healthy gum tissues. Invisalign® aligners are known to be much more comfortable than traditional braces. Plus, other orthodontic treatments may achieve optimal results, but typically require more trips to the dentist for maintenance and adjustments. With Invisalign®, you can achieve straighter teeth and a more beautiful smile without anyone knowing you are undergoing treatment.
Am I a Candidate for Invisalign®?
Invisalign® is a versatile system that can correct a number of orthodontic concerns and biting irregularities. The treatment has been clinically proven to successfully straighten teeth for many patients. If you wish to correct the positioning of your teeth with a less invasive and more discreet alternative to metal braces, Invisalign® may be able to help you. In general, the system can be utilized to address:
- Gapped teeth: spacing issues caused by abnormal growth of the jawbone, missing teeth, or teeth that have shifted.
- Crowded teeth: teeth that appear crooked or misaligned as a result of inadequate space in the jaw for all teeth to fit properly.
- Underbites: a condition in which your lower front teeth extend past your upper front teeth as a result of irregular growth in the upper or lower jaw.
- Overbites: a condition in which your upper teeth largely overlap your lower teeth, posing a risk of jaw pain, unnecessary tooth wear, and other concerns.
- Open bite: a condition where some teeth are incapable of making contact with their opposing teeth, potentially leading to biting and chewing problems, as well as causing excessive wear on the back teeth.
- Crossbite: misalignment of the upper and lower jaws, resulting in your upper teeth biting on the inside of your lower teeth.
- Lack of space: inadequate room in the mouth for missing tooth replacements or other dental work, which Invisalign® can address by creating space for future cosmetic restorations or implants
How Does Invisalign® Straighten My Teeth?
Invisalign® works through a process of gradual and controlled force applied to your teeth in order to guide them into the desired positioning. The path of movement is planned out in advance by your dentist based on your unique treatment plan, and each set of aligners provides slight movement at specific times for highly measured and gentle force application.
What is the Invisalign® Process Like?
To begin the Invisalign® process, our doctors will develop a customized treatment plan by taking digital impressions of your teeth. Based on these intricate impressions, the aligners will be crafted as a series of trays that you will take home with you. Each set of aligners will be worn for one to two weeks, and then you move on to the next in the series. Each set of aligners will be slightly different to allow for a gradual movement of your teeth into a more desirable position. While Invisalign® clear teeth aligners are removable, it’s recommended that you wear them as much as possible throughout the day. Our team will periodically check in with you to monitor your tooth movement.
How Often Should I Wear My Aligners?
For optimal treatment results, you should wear your aligners as often as possible. It is recommended to keep them in place for a minimum of 20 to 22 hours per day for the system to be effective. You should only remove the aligners to eat, drink, brush, and floss.
How Long Does Invisalign® Treatment Take?
Most patients are able to achieve the best results after 9 to 15 months, with the average case completed in approximately 12 months. The length of your treatment will depend on the extent of your orthodontic needs and how often you wear your aligners. Taking care to keep aligners in place consistently and according to your dentist’s instructions can generally accelerate and optimize the treatment process.
How Do I Clean My Invisalign® Aligners?
You can maintain your aligners by gently brushing and rinsing them daily under lukewarm water. Additionally, rinsing your aligners after drinking beverages—especially dark and colored beverages—can help keep them in pristine condition.
What is the Cost of Invisalign®?
The cost of Invisalign® will vary for each patient. Cost factors generally depend on the nature of your treatment plan, the degree of orthodontic work required, and the number of aligners necessary to straighten your teeth. Our practice offers a wide array of payment methods and financing options that can be used to suit your budgetary needs. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to a member of our friendly dental team for any questions or concerns you may have.
Our dentists provide a range of solutions to straighten misaligned teeth as well as foster a proper bite, and there are several other types of cosmetic braces that can achieve your orthodontic goals with the discretion afforded by Invisalign®. Depending on a number of factors—including the state of your bite as well as your personal preferences— alternative orthodontic systems such as ClearCorrect™, Six Month Smiles®, or porcelain veneers may be a more ideal treatment for your unique needs.
ClearCorrect™ is a comparable treatment process to Invisalign®, utilizing transparent, removable aligners to gradually guide teeth into the proper positioning. Fabricated from a durable material called Zendura, ClearCorrect™ has been known to effectively withstand stress-retention (pressure without becoming contorted) and can treat mild to severe cases of crookedness and occlusion.
Six Month Smiles®
For individuals whose orthodontic concerns involve overcrowding more than biting issues, Six Month Smiles® can be a convenient treatment to straighten teeth in a substantially faster treatment time when compared to other systems. These cosmetic braces use clear brackets and tooth-colored wires to improve crookedness unobtrusively, typically achieving the final outcome in four to nine months with the average case taking only six months.
When a patient has a proper bite, but their smile is affected by minor dental flaws, porcelain veneers can be a simple and conservative solution to mask gaps as well as minor misalignments. Composed of ultra-thin porcelain shells that are shaded to match the color of your enamel, these veneers are bonded to the fronts of the treated teeth and can conceal a variety of dental imperfections. Final results with porcelain veneers can be achieved in as little as two office visits and the outcome is designed to last years— even decades.
We understand that it can be difficult to ascertain which treatment is the most beneficial for your unique situation. Our cosmetic dentists would be happy to evaluate your particular concerns during a consultation and suggest the option that can best achieve your desired aesthetic outcome.
Does DIY Teeth Straightening Work?
DIY teeth straightening systems, also sometimes called “do-it-yourself” or mail-order braces, are marketed as a convenient alternative to professional orthodontic treatment. They are designed to be utilized at home by patients, without the need for dental appointments. However, undergoing any kind of orthodontic treatment without the oversight of an experienced dentist can pose major risks to your teeth, oral health, jaw alignment, and even your facial physiology. This is because orthodontic treatments—including both braces and clear aligner systems—are designed to not only straighten your teeth, but also gently realign the upper and lower jaw. Done correctly, this can improve your bite and enhance the aesthetics of your smile. However, without a qualified dentist or orthodontist to oversee your treatment progress, you risk not only exacerbating your existing alignment concerns, but even potentially creating new ones, which can be expensive and time-consuming to fix. Ultimately, the alleged conveniences of DIY teeth straightening systems are not worth the risks, and we encourage anyone considering orthodontic treatment to consult with a qualified dentist or orthodontist in-person instead.
Additional Frequently Asked Questions About Invisalign®
Will Invisalign® change my speech?
Generally, Invisalign® should not change the way you speak. Some patients may experience a temporary lisp as they adjust to the feeling of wearing their aligners, but this should subside within a few days to a week.
Do Invisalign® aligners stain?
Invisalign® aligners are not immune to staining, which is why it is important to clean them properly and avoid drinking dark liquids—such as coffee, tea, wine, and cola—while you are wearing them. One of the most commonly cited advantages of Invisalign® aligners over traditional orthodontic treatments is their removability, so the primary solution to staining is to be mindful about removing your aligners while eating or drinking anything other than water. Plus, each set of aligners is only worn for an average of a few weeks, so even if staining does occur, it should not present a long-term aesthetic disruption.
What are Invisalign® aligners made of?
Invisalign® aligners are made of a high-quality, BPA-free, medical-grade thermoplastic. They have been FDA-approved for over thirty years, and they represent a safe and effective method of orthodontic treatment.
Can I chew gum with my Invisalign® aligners in?
Invisalign® patients should avoid chewing gum, especially sugary gum, while wearing their aligners. Gum can stick to your aligners and potentially damage the trays. If you are going to chew gum while undergoing treatment with Invisalign®, you should take care to remove your aligners beforehand.
Will I have to wear an Invisalign® retainer after treatment?
Yes, you will need to wear an Invisalign® retainer after treatment. Orthodontic treatments are designed to gently reposition and realign your teeth and jaw over time. As your teeth shift, they leave behind gaps in the jawbone and surrounding tissues. A retainer is designed to help keep your teeth in place while your jawbone grows into these gaps, stabilizing the new positions of your teeth. If you do not wear your retainer as directed by your dentist, you run the risk of having your teeth shift out of alignment, compromising the results of your Invisalign® treatment. That said, after several months of consistent wear, many patients end up only needing to wear their retainer while they sleep, maintaining their beautiful smiles with only minimal inconvenience.
Can I switch from braces to Invisalign®?
There are some circumstances that allow for patients to switch from traditional braces to Invisalign®, but the possibility must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by a qualified dentist or orthodontist. Every treatment is slightly different, so your dentist will be able to determine if switching at any point is a feasible option. In some cases, switching from braces to Invisalign® may actually be a part of the initial orthodontic plan. Consulting with your dentist before or during treatment is the best way to understand if going from one treatment to another is right for you.
Does Invisalign® hurt?
One of the many advantages of Invisalign® over traditional braces is the increased comfort associated with the removable aligners. The Invisalign® trays are made of clear, flexible plastic (rather than metal and wires) that is designed to fit comfortably—and discreetly—over the top of your teeth. With that in mind, there may be an adjustment period when you start treatment, as well as when it’s time to switch to the next set of aligners, as your teeth begin to shift into the newly arranged position over the first few days. Generally, patients describe this discomfort as a mild soreness that can typically be relieved with over-the-counter pain medication until symptoms subside.
How old do you have to be to get Invisalign®?
Although there are no specific age limitations on Invisalign® treatment, candidacy must be assessed on a case-by-case basis by a qualified dentist. The degree of misalignment present, any underlying structural concerns relating to the development of the jaw or facial structures, and the lifestyle habits of the individual must all be taken into account. At Encinitas Cosmetic Dentistry, we generally offer Invisalign® treatment for teens and adults with mild-to-moderate misalignment who are committed to wearing their aligners for the recommended 20-22 hours a day. Many patients also utilize Invisalign® as a follow-up treatment after having traditional braces during their youth.
Can you clean your Invisalign® aligners?
One of the main benefits of Invisalign® trays is that they are removable, making it easy to clean and rinse them, as well as momentarily set them aside while eating and drinking. If staining or
discoloration should occur, you may try a deeper cleaning of your aligners by brushing a small
amount of antibacterial soap and then taking care to thoroughly rinse away all of the soap. Aligner cleaning tablets are also available at the office for a more thorough aligner clean. Keep in mind, aligners are swapped out for the next set every week or two, so even if stubborn staining does occur, a fresh set of aligners is not far away.
If you are interested in learning more about Invisalign®, or our other options for cosmetic braces, please contact Encinitas Cosmetic Dentistry today.