The interest of the adult population for orthodontic treatments is growing every day, and as a consequence, very aesthetic and discreet methods have emerged. Persons who are more demanding with their appearance, and do not want to see their aesthetics affected during the orthodontic treatment, can opt for clear aligners/Invisalign.
Invisalign aligners, also known as invisible orthodontics, are among the most widely used procedures for dental alignment and malocclusion corrections. These invisible aligners fit perfectly with your lifestyle and everyday interactions with others. Also, you have the flexibility to eat and drink by merely removing the aligner tray. Invisalign also improves oral health because you can remove the aligner to brush and floss your teeth.
It is a method based on a set of multiple custom-made, transparent and removable plastic trays.
Invisalign aligners move teeth by applying special forces to achieve controlled tooth movement. It is basically an orthodontic treatment without braces. Unlike traditional braces, Invisalign controls the movement degree per aligner, and also the time this movement takes. At each phase, only certain teeth are allowed to move based on the Invisalign treatment plan.
It is true that a few years ago, it was preferable to treat severe malocclusions with braces-based appliances. Nowadays, Invisalign is just as effective at correcting complex bite and alignment problems. The most complicated cases will last longer with the treatment.
When is Invisalign Treatment Required?
Invisalign technology can treat any case of malocclusion and bite problems:
- Crowded teeth
- Diastema (Spaces between teeth)
- Misaligned teeth
Invisalign will allow you to straighten your teeth gradually. These are controlled movements; each tooth will be perfectly located in the dental arch once the treatment finalizes.
Advantages of Clear Aligners /Invisalign Treatment
- They are invisible and highly unnoticeable when worn. Invisalign adapts wonderfully to your teeth and is a lot less visible than any other type of orthodontic treatment. Patients adapt much faster to wearing aligners than braces.
- Invisible aligners are removable trays. You are able to take them out to eat, brush and floss. Patients can decide when to use and take off their appliances. Even so, it is essential to mention that, for Invisalign to have the desired effect, it is necessary to follow the orthodontist’s instructions of use: wear it for about 22 hours a day.
- Improved aesthetics and self-esteem
- High-quality results
- Shorter treatment times (depending on the case)
- Comfortable, Invisalign allows you to eat any food. The patient has to remove the aligners, eat, brush their teeth, clean the aligners, and put them back on.
- It improves oral hygiene. The Invisalign technique allows you to have dental hygiene equal to or better than the one you had before starting your treatment, without having to worry about the obstacles posed by braces and wires.
- Teeth-grinding protection
- Invisalign is ideal for patients with metal allergies. Contrary to what happens with fixed braces, with Invisalign, you will not have to worry about irritation, wounds, ulcers, and discomfort caused by metal appliances. The absence of metal or sharp edges makes Invisalign comfortable to wear and allergy-free.
- Minimum urgencies. With Invisalign treatment, you will reduce your visits to the dental office, since it is you who can replace the aligners according to the orthodontist’s instructions. You should go to the dental office for regular check-ups every six to eight weeks.
- Rinse the aligners with warm water and soap every time you remove them
- Take your aligner tray out each morning and clean your teeth and the trays.
- Brush and floss your teeth before putting the aligners back in.
- Do not eat or drink with invisible aligners in your mouth.
- Don’t use colored toothpaste or soap to clean your trays.
- Wash aligners with only soap and cold water
- Never wash aligners with toothpaste, as they could lose their transparency.
- Do not soak the aligners in mouthwash
- Avoid drinks that can stain the aligners such as coffee, tea, wine, or soft drinks.
- Do not smoke with aligners on
- Because they are removable, aligners can be easily lost or damaged.
Procedure for Clear Aligners/Invisalign
Phase 1: Diagnosis and treatment plan
The orthodontist performs the patient’s diagnosis and determines technical aspects of the procedure, treatment duration, malocclusions that need to be corrected, necessary attachments, etc.
The first and fundamental step is to do a complete orthodontic study consisting of:
- Panoramic X-rays
- Lateral skull radiograph
- Intra and extraoral photographs
- Study models
- CT Scan (if necessary)
These diagnostic aids are essential when starting any orthodontic treatment since it serves to obtain all the details in the patient’s mouth.
Phase 2: Customization
Clear aligners are custom-made. It is necessary to take the impressions of the patient’s mouth using a 3D intraoral scanner. The virtual samples obtained will be sent to the dental laboratory. This 3D model simulates the necessary tooth movements to get an optimal result.
Phase 3: Start of the invisible orthodontic treatment
Dental aligners are manufactured following the orthodontist’s instructions. Aligners arrive at the dental office in approximately 8 to 10 days after fabrication.
The dentist will give the patient a set of trays and two more to change at home after two weeks.
At each dental check-up, the orthodontist will give the patient a new set of trays.
Phase 4: Refinement phase
At this stage, the orthodontist assesses the state of the mouth and the position of teeth. Sometimes, the final result can be improved, and it is necessary to scan the oral cavity of the patient again and order new sets of trays. The objective is to improve the aesthetics of the smile as much as possible.
The Dos and Don’ts of Wearing Invisalign/ Clear Aligners
- Remove aligners when eating or drinking
- Wash aligners with a brush and neutral soap before putting them on each time
- Always store aligners in a safe place
- Protect your aligners from excessive heat
- Keep your aligners away from small children and pets.
- Visit your orthodontist regularly.
- Don’t drink or eat with aligners on.
- Don’t wash the aligners with toothpaste
- Don’t use hot water to clean aligners
- Please don’t wrap the aligners in a napkin because you can forget them and lose them.
Myths About Clear Aligners/ Invisalign Treatments
Myth #1: I am too old to use orthodontics
Truth: There is no predetermined age to use orthodontics and, therefore, invisible aligners. With good planning and patient compliance, the desired results will be predictable and achieved.
Invisible aligner technology will fully adapt the forces performed to your age and type of bone.
Myth #2: I won’t be able to eat or drink comfortably
Truth: One of the main advantages of invisible orthodontics is that, by being a removable appliance, you can remove the aligners at the time of eating or drinking, so they will not interfere at all.
Myth #3: Invisible aligners cause halitosis.
Truth: If the patient maintains proper dental hygiene, brushes his/her teeth thoroughly after eating, and cleans the aligners often, halitosis will never be a problem. Patients who start invisible orthodontic treatment have shown to improve their oral health by paying more attention to their teeth when wearing aligners.
Myth #4: Invisible aligners are uncomfortable.
Truth: It is important to note that: each patient is different! Invisible aligners fully adapt to the shape of the teeth without leaving sharp or pointed elements. Aligners are specially designed to be moldable and flexible; therefore, they will not even irritate the gums.
Myth #5: Invisible aligner treatment is slower than traditional braces
Truth: When using an invisible orthodontic treatment, patient cooperation is essential to ensure treatment success. If the patient complies with the indicated hours, the treatment will be of the same or shorter duration than that of traditional orthodontics. The treatment with aligners is 100% planned from start to finish, and teeth movements are exact and with fewer errors.
Myth #6: Invisible aligners will increase tooth sensitivity
Truth: During the first days of treatment, you may feel a slight sensitivity due to the pressure exerted on the teeth, but this is not related to the sensitivity that a patient with periodontal problems present, especially with hot or cold drinks; the sensation of pressure perceived by the patient with invisible orthodontics during those first days is the same in a patient with and without sensitivity.
Myth #7: With invisible aligners, I will have to go more often to dental check-ups.
Truth: Invisible aligner treatment is regularly monitored. The treatment and patient’s needs will determine the frequency of check-ups needed. Each visit to the dentist will be much faster and more comfortable than with the use of traditional orthodontics, it usually consists of a small review and delivery of the following aligners.
Myth #8: Invisalign is more painful than traditional orthodontics
Truth: Invisible aligners are not painful. The patient will need to adapt uniquely to each new splint. He or she will feel slight discomfort that will not last more than two days. By being able to precisely plan and control the force exerted on each aligner, the dentist can anticipate and prevent excessive forces compared to traditional orthodontics.
Myth #9: Invisible aligners turn yellow
Truth: With good oral hygiene and aligner hygiene, it should not turn yellow. Invisalign aligners are the most transparent on the market and do not present lines or sharp internal edges that accumulate dental plaque as it happens in other brands.
Myth #10: Invisible aligners cause tooth decay
Truth: If the patient brushes his/her teeth thoroughly and follows a balanced diet, he will avoid tooth decay. Besides, the invisible aligners will not cause decay. On the contrary, they will help the patient be strict with oral hygiene.
Frequently Asked Questions
HOW OFTEN DO I HAVE TO USE THE ALIGNERS?
Invisible aligner trays are worn for 1 to 2 weeks at a time to shift your teeth into the desired position gently.
You should wear aligners between 20 to 22 hours per day. They should remain in your mouth as long as possible for the treatment to be effective.
HOW LONG WILL THE TREATMENT TAKE?
Depending on the severity of your case in particular, the treatment with invisible aligners can take from 6 to 24 months.
WHAT IS CLINCHECK?
The ClinCheck is probably the most significant differential element of Invisalign compared to other clear aligner systems.
ClinCheck is a software that brings a lot of predictability to the treatment. It allows you to recreate the movements that the teeth will perform over time, and it will enable the patient to virtually see the final result before treatment starts.
WHICH DENTAL SPECIALIST CAN PLACE INVISALIGN?
Even though the manufacturing procedure seems automated, previous work is essential in this process.
The most important thing is the diagnosis and planning made by the orthodontist. He/she plays a major role in the manufacturing process, since he/she will give special instructions to the dental lab.
If the diagnosis and planning are not correct, the fabrication will lead to aligners that will not solve the patient’s problems. When looking for an orthodontist to treat you with Invisalign, you must pay attention to the following three elements:
- That he/she is a dentist specialized in Orthodontics (through an official master’s degree) because it guarantees that he/she has more extensive training.
- That the dentist is an orthodontist exclusively, it makes him more experienced, and has treated more cases with this technology.
- Look for an orthodontist that is recognized by Invisalign. The brand honors orthodontists with the highest number of treated cases.