Patient education library includes information on various topics ranging from dental care to oral health problems.
Invisalign - Invisible Orthodontics
What is Invisalign?
Invisalign is an aesthetic orthodontic technique that uses a series of doctor-prescribed, clear aligners to correct misaligned teeth, bites, and smiles for teens and adults. It has been around since the late 1990s and been used by over 1 million patients. The idea of using removable appliances to move teeth has been around much longer. However, Align Technology has developed an extremely precise, 3-D, digitally controlled way that allows doctors to move teeth with aligners that are clear, comfortable, and effective.
The aligners are made of an FDA approved, medical grade plastic that is customized to fit your teeth. Your doctor determines how teeth move in terms of speed, order, and direction. About every two weeks, there is a new aligner that fits your teeth slightly differently from the previous one to gradually improve alignment. Just like regular braces that place pressure on the teeth all the time, Invisalign must be worn for as close to full-time as possible. The general rule is for 22 hours per day, allowing 2 hours for brushing, flossing, and eating. The average treatment time with Invisalign is about one year, ranging from about six months, to a few years depending on treatment planning, compliance, and severity of the malocclusion.
Invisalign vs Braces
This is a common question asked by patients who are interested in or who have never heard of Invisalign. Remember that Invisalign is simply another method to move teeth. Biological and physical orthodontic principles still apply, only teeth are being moved with clear plastic rather than braces. While there are a few situations where braces may be better than Invisalign, there are also a number where Invisalign is better than braces. Since each situation is different, your own personal situation should be evaluated by a dentist who is a certified Invisalign provider.
Dr. Jeff Bonang and Dr. Laurie Campbell-Bonang have been providing certified Invisalign orthodontics since 2004.
Getting Started with Invisalign
If you’re interested in getting on your way to a new smile without the use of metal, ceramic, or lingual braces, you will have to visit a certified Invisalign dentist for a consultation. Typically, the doctor will take a look in your mouth and discuss some of the problems and solutions to your malocclusion. The cost and duration and treatment may be discussed as well. Proper diagnosis and treatment planning requires photos, a cephalometric x-ray, and full mouth series or panoramic x-ray.
If you’re ready to go ahead with treatment, a series of polyvinyl siloxane impressions (PVS) and bite registration will be taken. These impressions create an exact imprint of your teeth to help formulate your treatment.
All records are sent to Align Technology in California, where they are scanned creating a 3-D model of your teeth. The digital record is then emailed to Costa Rica where technicians create a simulation of the way your teeth will move. It is your doctor’s responsibility to ensure that the movements provided by Align technicians are biologically and physically possible in your mouth.
Treatment generally begins with your first two sets of aligners, and instructions on their wear and care. You’ll see your doctor back in 4 weeks. It is critical that the aligners be worn judiciously, 22 hours each day. If the proper movement hasn’t been achieved with each aligner the remainder of treatment will be thrown off-course.
Please note that you may experience the following when first beginning treatment:
- Transient lisp until used to the aligners
- Teeth may develop some soreness associated with tooth movement
- Bite may feel weird or different
- Some adjustment period to the aligner
- Adaptation of teeth to the aligner may not be ideal to start
On the positive side, patients often receive compliments that their teeth look shinier and straighter even when just starting treatment, due to the smooth contours of the aligner.
Sometimes the teeth don’t move exactly as prescribed. If this occurs in the middle of the course of aligners, a new impression may be taken to “reboot” your treatment. This is known as mid-course correction
Refinement would be the equivalent of detailed finishing with braces treatment. After the first course of trays, there may be slight movements that need to be achieved. At this point, new impressions can be taken, and a new course of trays can be used to help with the remaining movements.
Just like any other orthodontic treatment, the use of retainers is required to maintain the tooth movement with Invisalign. There are many types of retainers including fixed wires on the inside of the teeth, removable acrylic and wired retainers, as well as Invisalign-type retainers. Generally, you will be asked to wear the removable retainers full-time, for a certain duration, followed by indefinite periodic nightly wear. Patients commonly ask how long they should wear retainers for... the best answer is “as long as you want your teeth to stay straight!”.
Why is orthodontic treatment important?
Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain. This may contribute to conditions that cause not only tooth decay but also eventual gum disease and tooth loss. Other orthodontic problems can contribute to abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, inefficient chewing function, excessive stress on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth, or misalignment of the jaw joints, which can result in chronic headaches or pain in the face or neck.
The value of an attractive smile should not be underestimated. A pleasing appearance is a vital asset to one’s self-confidence. A person's self-esteem often improves as treatment brings teeth, lips and face into proportion. In this way, orthodontic treatment can benefit social and career success, as well as improve one’s general attitude toward life.
At what age can people have orthodontic treatment?
Children and adults can both benefit from orthodontics, because healthy teeth can be moved at almost any age. Because monitoring growth and development is crucial to managing some orthodontic problems well, we recommend that all children have an orthodontic assessment by 9 years of age. Some orthodontic problems may be easier to correct if treated early. Waiting until all the permanent teeth have come in, or until facial growth is nearly complete, may make correction of some problems more difficult.
Invisalign Orthodontics can only be started once the 12 yr molars are erupted into the mouth. Ask your dentist what kind of treatment would be best for you and when is the best time to start.
“Dr. Jeff Bonang and Dr. Laurie Campbell-Bonang – Making Smiles that last a lifetime”