By now you have probably heard of Invisalign, the newest innovation in straightening teeth. But even though you’ve seen the ads, you probably still have questions. The experts in Layton, Utah at Hillfield Pediatric & Family Dentistry are eager to provide you with all the information you need to understand how this treatment works and if it is the right choice for you.
This invisible clear alignment technology is effective for adults and for teens. It was first developed as a treatment for adults by a patient who was undergoing traditional orthodontic treatment and has been used by over 2.4 million people around the world.
What Is Invisalign?
The Invisalign brand is one of several clear, plastic orthodontic technologies that are available. This brand uses patented Smart Track® material which is comfortable and easy to put on and take off. They tested over 260 different materials over 8 years of research and development to find the most comfortable and effective BPA-free plastic for their devices.
This advanced type of braces uses flexible material to gently move the teeth towards the desired positions over time. The patient wears a set of aligners for 1-2 weeks and then graduates to a new set. Each set increases the desired shifting of the teeth to create your new beautiful smile.
Will It Work for My Smile?
Invisalign has been shown to be useful in treating tooth gaps, overbite, under-bite, crowding, and crooked teeth. But the treatment is not always best for every condition. Consult with your dentist or orthodontist to determine the best treatment for you.
Sometimes after treatment with braces of any kind, a patient needs to use a retainer for a while to help the teeth stay in their new positions. Invisalign also offers a retainer product that is more comfortable and easier to insert and remove than a traditional retainer.
This braces technology was first developed in 1997. In 1998 the device was approved by the FDA. There have been several innovations in the technology since then. In 2007 the company introduced the Vivera® retainer. This is a soft plastic device designed to help teeth stay in their proper post-brace positions.
In 2008, Invisalign expanded to include treatments for teens. The following year, they developed the Smart Force® attachments which improve control over the tooth movement. By 2011 Invisalign was using digital scanning technology to improve accuracy and to eliminate the need for traditional tooth impressions.
In 2016 the company introduced the once-weekly aligner changes. This innovation speeds total treatment time. You can now have your new smile up to 50% faster than before.
The Smart Track® material was mastered after 8 years of research and development and testing over 250 different materials. It is the most comfortable and effective aligner material available, and the company is now pioneering treatments for children aged 6 through 10, including treatment for narrow mouth arches.
How Does It Work?
The soft plastic appliance snaps in place over your upper and/or lower teeth and applies pressure to the teeth to move them into alignment. Depending upon your specific condition, you may use the simple aligners, or you may have attachments adhered to your teeth. These are tiny tooth-colored handles that the dentist will glue to a tooth—and remove after treatment—and which help hold the aligner and direct the pressure in the correct direction.
When Should I Wear My Aligners?
The aligners are worn all the time, day and night, except when eating or brushing. Dentists recommend wearing the implement at least 20-22 hours a day. But the appliance is easy to remove so you can remove it to eat any food you want and to clean your teeth. If you wear a mouth guard for sports, you can remove the aligners so your guard fits better.
Each aligner set (upper and lower) is worn for one to two weeks. The dentist will give you up to 4 numbered sets with carrying trays. Dentists recommend that you keep the trays and aligners you have already used, in case, for your best treatment, they want you to go back a set.
It’s handy to have your old cases also in case you lose your current case or aligner before your next dentist visit. Because you remove Invisalign whenever you eat, patients have been known to leave their appliances in restaurants!
How Will It Feel?
Each set feels tight when it is first fitted, but as the teeth shift, it will feel looser. Tooth movement sometimes causes soreness that should be relieved by over-the-counter pain medications. Some patients report that it feels odd to talk at first when they are new to Invisalign, but they report getting used to the new feeling quickly.
Your dentist may provide you with an attachment as well. This is a device for you to bite down on to help the aligners set fully onto the teeth. You may need to use the attachment for a few days after each new fitting. You will visit your dentist every 4 to six weeks of your treatment to monitor tooth movement and to get new aligners.
How Do I Take Care of My Aligners?
Clean your aligners by removing them and brushing with a soft toothbrush without toothpaste. Toothpaste can discolor the appliance. If you want to use a product other than water to clean your aligners you can use a denture cleaner or a non-alcohol based mouthwash and the soft toothbrush.
Who Is It For?
Invisalign has always been for adults who are ready to shift their look and to achieve healthier tooth alignment. Now, Phase 1 aligners have been developed for children aged 6 to 10 to begin orthodontic work for issues such as narrow dental arch, crowding or space issues—even in baby teeth.
Some younger patients, teens and tweens, require a treatment known as mandibular advancement, where the lower jaw bone is pulled forward to fix a certain type of malocclusion. Invisalign now has the technology to treat this condition with the same level of comfort and convenience.
A word of warning, however. Invisalign is for patients who will take responsibility for wearing, cleaning and starting the new aligners at the appropriate times. People who don’t think they can comply should probably choose metal braces that can be monitored and adjusted by the dentist.
How Can I Be Sure Invisalign Will Be Safe and Effective?
Invisalign has been used on over 7 million sets of teeth around the world. The company has over 20 years of research that shows the effectiveness, comfort and safety of their alignment devices. In the United States, the devices have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration since 1998.
Your treatment plan is carefully individualized for you, and your progress is assessed frequently throughout treatment. The treatment is designed to minimize discomfort, including the discomfort of metal irritation on the soft tissues of your mouth.
The company has vigorously tested the materials used for the aligners. They use only non-PBA plastics that have been tested and retested for their effectiveness in gently moving teeth into proper alignment.
Why Is Invisalign Better Than Traditional Braces?
Ease and Comfort
Most importantly, Invisalign is more comfortable than traditional metal braces. The device fits the teeth better partly due to advanced imaging and scanning technology. The flexible plastic material has eliminated the problem of irritation of metal against the cheeks and gums.
With Invisalign, there are no food restrictions. Because you remove the appliance when you eat, you can have any foods you want, and the devices are convenient and easy to clean.
With the latest technology, the patient no longer has to sit through the impression process, which is that uncomfortable time when the dentist fills your mouth with goop and you have to bite down on it until it hardens and gets an impression of your teeth. The aligner is designed through digital scanning for a more accurate and comfortable process.
The digital scanner records 6000 images per second for the most accurate assessment available. With the scanner, you can even see your new smile before you begin treatment. And you can see your progress in the scans at each visit.
Shorter Treatment Time
These plastic aligners can work faster than traditional braces—up to 50% faster. The typical treatment for an adult lasts about a year. For teens, the treatment is about as long as it is with traditional braces.
One of the problems with traditional braces is that the outcome is unpredictable. That’s why some people who spent years and thousands of dollars sometimes end up with poor tooth alignment in the end. The Invisalign process is more predictable.
Invisalign offers a fully customized treatment. Your dentist and the software calculate the exact pressure each tooth needs to shift and which order your teeth should move for the best result.
How Much Will It Cost?
Some insurance plans cover part of the cost of Invisalign for teens and adults. Check with your plan to see what it covers. The Invisalign website suggests that treatment costs can range from $50 to $200 per month over 24 to 36 months. Your total cost will be about $3400 to $7100. This is about the same as traditional braces.
Your insurance might pay up to $3500 of your total cost. Most insurance companies do not make a distinction between traditional braces and this newer technology. Most dental offices will create an individualized payment plan for you. Many accept monthly payments for the duration of the treatment.
How Do I Get Started?
Your first step is to make an appointment with a dentist who is familiar with this type of treatment. It is important that your provider has experience with using these devices as there are many differences between this new technology and traditional braces.
Questions You Should Ask
Make sure to ask about how long your treatment will last. How often will you be expected to start with new aligners? Every week or every two weeks? In your specific case, will you need the attachments, or will you need to follow up on your aligner treatment with a retainer? Either of these options can add to your costs.
Ask if your dentist will use the scanning technology or physical impressions to make the impressions of your teeth. While scanning technology is more comfortable and accurate, it can also add to the cost of your treatment.
How much will your treatment cost? Does your dentist accept your insurance? If so, how much of the treatment will insurance cover and how much will be out-of-pocket? Before you agree to begin any treatment, make sure you know how much it will cost and all acceptable forms of payment. Work with your dental office to create a payment plan that works with your budget.
You deserve the health and comfort of properly aligned teeth. You deserve the most beautiful smile. Invisalign might be your best option to achieve both. Call Hillfield Pediatric & Family Dentistry in Layton, Utah to book your consultation today. We are here to help.