Orthodontics without the wire
Do you have crowded or crooked teeth that you’d like to straighten but don’t want to have braces with brackets and wires? If so, then clear aligners from Invisalign may be your answer to straighter teeth. With this treatment, teeth are orthodontically moved using clear plastic trays, not brackets and wires. You can achieve that beautiful smile in a very comfortable and less conspicuous way.
Before: Patient previously had braces as a teen. Over the years the teeth become crowded again from not wearing their retainers. This is called “relapse”. Correction of crowding with clear aligners. / After: Using Invisalign the relapse was corrected in about 6 months.
How They Work
Clear aligners, like traditional braces, apply gentle forces to teeth to move them a little bit at a time. Each time you change an aligner, the forces are maintained on the teeth as they move to their new positions. The aligner must be worn at least 22 hours a day in order to effectively deliver the intended forces to the teeth. And each aligner is used for two weeks before changing to the next one. Depending on the amount of tooth movement in your case, the total number of aligners needed will vary.
Benefits of Clear Aligners
- Avoid the discomfort of brackets and wires
- Treatment can be faster (6 to 18 months on average)
- Shorter progress visits at the dental office
- Aligners can be removed to ensure exquisite brushing and flossing
Limitations of Clear Aligners
- Aligners are plastic and may break if not handled carefully
- Aligners are best suited for mild to moderate cases of crowding
- Must be worn at least 22 hours a day, removing only to eat and brush
Are Clear Aligners Right For Me?
Treatment starts with a comprehensive dental exam and diagnostic records such as x-rays, photographs, and digital scans of the teeth. This information is vital to determine the best way to correct your crowding and if Invisalign is appropriate for your case. Clear aligners may not be effective when extensive tooth movement is needed, or there are significant differences between the size of the upper and lower jaws. In this case conventional braces with brackets and wires may be needed instead.
In addition, the health of your gums and jaw bone is very important before any type of orthodontic treatment. If you have periodontal disease (the gums and bone are not healthy) and begin orthodontic treatment, there is a risk the forces applied to the teeth may cause irreversible damage and even tooth loss! That’s why you should avoid the “do-it-yourself”, “direct home-delivery club” products you see advertised. These companies have no way to evaluate the condition of the gums and jaw at any time during treatment since a dentist is not involved. Therefore you should always receive orthodontic treatment from a dental office, and not from these direct smile club products.
Once you’ve been checked out for healthy gums and jaw bones, and it’s determined clear aligners are suitable for your tooth movement needs, the aligners are then custom made for your bottom and top teeth. You must wear the aligners for at least 22 hours a day, removing them only to eat and brush your teeth. Each set of aligners (one tray on top, one tray on bottom) is worn for 1-2 weeks before going to the next set. After all aligners have been worn and the teeth are properly positioned, you will then transition to a set of retainers you wear at night while sleeping to make sure the teeth stay in their new position.