Have you ever thought “I want to get my teeth straight but don’t want to wear braces”? Well now you may not need braces to have perfect teeth. Straightening teeth using a series of clear aligners instead of braces is gaining popularity among adults and adolescents. The most popular clear aligners are called Invisalign aligners. Some people call them Invisalign Braces because they can straighten teeth though technically, they are not braces at all.
Invisalign is a series of clear aligners or trays. Each aligner fits over either the upper or lower teeth and moves your teeth just a fraction of a millimeter. You change the aligners about every two weeks so that by the time you are done wearing the last aligner, your teeth are straight. Patients may remove the Invisalign aligners to eat and brush, but otherwise they are supposed to wear them all the time.
There are many benefits of using Invisalign instead of orthodontic braces to straighten your teeth. The most obvious benefit is that because the aligners are clear, they are far less noticeable than metal braces or even clear braces. In fact, some patients comment that many people do not even notice that they are wearing anything in their mouth. Another benefit of having Invisalign is that the aligners can be removed by the patient so that he or she can brush and floss easier. This decreases the chance of getting gum disease, cavities or unsightly permanent scars on the teeth caused by not brushing properly.
Unlike braces which can feel sharp, or have little hooks or wires that can poke your cheeks, Invisalign trays are smooth and generally will not irritate your cheeks and lips like braces can. Still another benefit of Invisalign is that if you have an important event like a prom, hot date, or presentation that you have to give, you can remove the Invisalign trays for your event and place them back on after a few hours. Of course you shouldn’t do this very often or your teeth will not straighten.
While there are many benefits of using Invisalign to straighten your teeth, there are some disadvantages also. Invisalign works well for correcting mildly crooked teeth, but may not work as well for correcting severely crooked teeth, or bite problems. Also, though the aligners are clear and you are not getting braces on your teeth, many times Invisalign treatment requires placing little white bumps on your teeth to facilitate tooth movements and help the aligner stay on the teeth.
With braces, because they are cemented on your teeth, you do not have to remember to put them on after you eat. If you forget to put your Invisalign aligners back on after you eat, your teeth may not move or may even move back to their previous crooked positions. Also, because you can take out your Invisalign trays, sometimes you may misplace them or someone may throw them away by accident.
Getting Invisalign is easy. You will first need to select a certified Invisalign dentist or orthodontist. You may ask “Should I see a dentist or orthodontist for Invisalign treatment?” Both dentists and orthodontists can perform Invisalign treatment, although they first must pass an Invisalign certification course. The difference is that orthodontists have an additional two to three years of additional training after dental school to learn how to properly diagnose and treat crooked teeth and bite problems. A good rule of thumb to follow: The more complicated your case is, the better off you are seeing an orthodontist.
When you come in for your first visit, your dentist or orthodontist will determine if Invisalign is an option for straightening out your teeth and go over the pros and cons of getting Invisalign vs braces. At that time, your dentist or orthodontist will give you an Invisalign cost estimate. If your teeth are severely crooked or if you have bite problems, your dentist or orthodontist may recommend braces over Invisalign.
After you and your doctor have decided on Invisalign, he will take some X-rays, photos, and models of your teeth. Then before your next appointment, your dentist or orthodontist will use a state-of-the-art 3-D software program to determine the best way for Invisalign to straighten your teeth. The sequence of tooth movements will then be translated to a machine which will carve out your Invisalign aligners.
At your next appointment, your Invisalign dentist or orthodontist will give you your first couple sets of Invisalign aligners and go over instructions on how to place and remove them. You will return to your doctor every 4-8 weeks so that you can pick up your next series of aligners and so your doctor can monitor your progress.