Invisalign braces are a modern alternative to traditional metal braces. Made of medical grade plastic they are completely clear and are billed as an invisible alternative to braces. They are also removable which has made them particularly popular amongst adults.
One of the common concerns of people considering Invisalign braces is the possibility of pain during treatment. Traditional metal braces have long been associated with painful treatment, both through the pressure exerted during the movement of teeth, and through the rubbing of the metal against the cheeks and tongue. One method of dealing with this has been the use of waxes and gels to stop the pain. Invisalign braces are different from metal braces however. They are produced from a mould that the orthodontist or dentist takes of the patients teeth. From this mould a series of aligners is manufactured. These are made to fit exactly the shape of the patients teeth, effectively covering each tooth in a very fine layer of smooth clear plastic. Due to the smooth texture of this plastic and to the very close fit there should be no rubbing or chafing against the cheeks. Occasionally a patient can experience a very slight rough edge on the aligner but this can be quickly and simply smoothed away by the patient with a nail file.
Metal braces are normally tightened every 6 weeks. This means that in order to incorporate six weeks worth of movement significant changes are made at each tightening. This results in a lot of pressure upon the teeth causing considerable discomfort.
Invisalign braces are replaced for a new aligner approximately every 2 weeks, although some patients are on a weekly rotation. This means that each aligner is able to undertake a smaller movement and therefore put less pressure on the teeth. This means that although there may be some pressure at the start of each aligner it should not be enough to cause actual pain although it may cause some discomfort. This discomfort is easily dealt with with a simple over the counter painkiller.
Most Invisalign patients require buttons or attachments to be placed on some of their teeth. These are small blobs of tooth coloured substance that help the aligner to grip on teeth that are requiring more complex movements. Some patients find that these attachments feel a little uncomfortable against their cheeks whilst eating, although they cannot be felt when the aligners are in place. As aligners are required to be worn for a minimum of 22 hours a day this does not generally cause a significant problem. Any rough edges on the attachment can quickly be smoothed away by the dentist or orthodontist in their surgery.
The important factor to remember when considering Invisalign braces is that they should never cause pain. Patients may feel some pressure that may be a little uncomfortable but if actual pain is experienced it indicates that there is something wrong with the way treatment is progressing and the patient’s dentist or orthodontist should be consulted.