Invisalign® Treatment for Adults and Teens

Invisalign® has been a game-changer in orthodontics for over 20 years. This modern approach to straightening teeth is so comfortable and convenient that it has attracted millions of patients since it was invented in 1997. With a plan crafted by your dentist or orthodontist and a set of custom-fit aligners, Invisalign® treatment gradually moves the teeth into place over a course of 3 to 12 months.

Invisalign® clear aligners are BPA-free plastic aligners that slip over your teeth like flexible, thin, see-through mouthguards. The treatment was invented by Align Technology and was the most innovative orthodontic product of its time.

Invisalign® continues to be the best alternative to regular metal braces for most people. From cost and appearance to treatment length, there are several factors to consider before deciding whether Invisalign® is right for you. Weigh the pros and cons with your dentist or orthodontist to assure you are making the best choice for your smile. Here’s everything you need to know about the benefits and possible drawbacks of Invisalign® aligners.

Pros or Benefits of Invisalign®

The cost of Invisalign® may not vary greatly from the cost of regular braces, but there are several factors that do vary greatly you may want to consider. Invisalign® clear aligners are removable, nearly invisible, and there are no metal brackets to attach to and no wires to tighten. This makes them a comfortable alternative to their metal counterparts and a convenient way to boost your confidence. There are plenty of reasons to invest in Invisalign®, including the following:

• More comfortability
• Less noticeable hardware
• Easy to remove
• Convenient to adjust

Appearance and comfort are typically two of the best selling points, but the convenience of being able to remove your aligners for photos or meals is one that patients with metal braces will never know.

Challenges of Invisalign

There are several clear benefits to Invisalign® treatment, but let’s take a look at some possible challenges. To start, some people who try Invisalign® experience speech difficulty (often a lisp) or struggle to wear the aligners for a full 22 hours each day. Younger patients or anyone who can’t commit to wearing their aligners long enough may not achieve the results they hoped for or may require an extended treatment plan.

Other challenges that Invisalign® patients may face include the following:

Aligners must be cleaned
Your Invisalign® clear aligners must be cleaned separately from your teeth, which adds an additional step to your oral health care process. To clean your aligners, use a soft toothbrush and toothpaste (without whitening). Never use denture cleaner or mouthwash on your aligners and use the Invisalign® cleaning system when cleaning Invisalign® trays.

Must remove to eat
Removing your aligners to eat can be inconvenient and it leaves a risk of losing them. Every time you remove your aligners, any progress that has been made in straightening your smile stops. If the aligners are misplaced, this can be a big setback in your treatment plan.

Attachments are becoming more and more common
You may receive more attachments than you are expecting. More and more attachments to go along with Invisalign® are becoming the norm. These attachments are usually enamel ridges that stick to your teeth in a way that is similar to brackets seen with standard braces. The attachments are used to click into the aligners for a tighter fit and can more effectively shift your teeth into proper position.

Attachments make Invisalign® much more noticeable, which can mean you look more like you’re wearing actual braces. They also stain easily, so watch out for pigmented drinks like coffee and tea.

What orthodontic issues can and can’t Invisalign® fix?

Invisalign® doesn’t have the same capabilities and force to move teeth as regular metal braces do. This means that some complex orthodontic cases or cases that require significant movement of the teeth require braces, not Invisalign® to achieve the desired outcome.

8 limits to Invisalign® you should know:

1. Tooth position
As a mouth becomes overcrowded, teeth tend to rotate so they can fit. If the molars have rotated more than 20 degrees, Invisalign® is unable to fully straighten them out. Premolars, canines, and incisors can be rotated more than 20 degrees so your dentist or orthodontist will evaluate them to see whether they too far rotated for Invisalign® treatment.

The teeth can also tilt forward or back to fit in a crowded mouth. If the tilt is over 45 degrees, Invisalign® is likely unable to pull the tooth up into the right place.

2. Large gaps between teeth
Whether you have just one gap or several gaps that need closing, Invisalign® can only close gaps that are 6mm wide, or smaller.

3. Midline movements
Some patients have a midline (imaginary line down the center of your face) that doesn’t match their front teeth. Invisalign® can only correct midline discrepancies by 2mm to the left or right.

4. Tooth shape
Some teeth aren’t ideal for fitting into Invisalign® clear aligners. Short, round, pegged teeth, or those with severe tips may prevent the aligner from getting a good grip. Therefore, the aligner isn’t effective at moving your teeth into the desired position.

5. Intrusion and extrusion
Some orthodontic treatment plans can raise or lower the position of the teeth so they appear to all be the same height. Braces can achieve drastic changes, both up and down, to the position of our teeth. Invisalign®, on the other hand, is limited to minor movements in the front teeth and almost no movement in the back teeth when it comes to adjusting the height appearance of the teeth.

6. Previous dental work
There are prior dental procedures that can limit patients from using Invisalign®. A dental bridge, porcelain veneers, or crowns may not be able to use Invisalign® attachments because they can’t bond to the surface. Ask your dentist or orthodontist for an evaluation to determine if any of these procedures might prevent you from being a good candidate for Invisalign.

7. New dental work
Patients who have dental work after Invisalign® aligners, such as crowns or porcelain veneers, may find that their aligners do not fit properly. Aligners and retainers that do not fit properly won’t be as effective in manipulating the teeth into place.

Your dentist or orthodontist will check any previous dental treatments to ensure Invisalign® is suitable before proceeding. Once your aligners have been made, all dental restoration work will be postponed until after your Invisalign® treatment is complete.

8. Needed extractions
If your orthodontic treatment plan requires extractions, Invisalign® may not be right for you. If you received an extraction previously and any prior gap has since been closed, have a dentist check to see if you are a good candidate for Invisalign®.

What can Invisalign® fix?

If you are a good candidate, there are several dental issues that Invisalign® can fix. Some of the most popular conditions include:
• Overbite
• Crossbite
• Underbite
• Smaller gaps
• Open bite
• Crowded teeth (in some cases)
• Crooked teeth (in some cases)

Typically, teeth that have rotated dramatically or that vary in height too much don’t work well with Invisalign®. Patients who only need slight adjustments to their smile make the best candidates for Invisalign® teeth straightening.

After Invisalign®

Like regular braces, it is important to wear retainers after Invisalign® treatment. Your orthodontist or dentist will recommend how frequent you should be wearing your retainers, but these timeframes will only be at night.

If you are a good candidate, Invisalign® treatment is a convenient, clear alternative to metal braces. Schedule an appointment near you today and find out if Invisalign® is right for you.

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