What is Invisalign?
Invisalign is an orthodontic system that utilizes clear aligners rather than conventional metal braces to correct tooth position in order to improve a patient’s smile or bite. Using Invisalign, we are able to correct a number of dental conditions including open bite, overbite, crossbite, spaces between teeth, and crowded or crooked teeth.
What are the advantages of Invisalign treatment?
Advantages of Invisalign treatment include:
- Improved confidence and self-esteem – both during and after treatment
- Clear aligners that are nearly invisible
- A more esthetic and pleasing resulting smile
- A more comfortable resulting bite
- Increased dental hygiene due to straighter and more easily maintainable teeth
- The ability to remove aligners to clean teeth during treatment
What does treatment with Invisalign look like?
Before beginning treatment, interested patients are seen first for a records appointment. At this visit, a thorough orthodontic evaluation is completed along with impressions and photographs of the teeth. Using this information, we will plan the course of treatment and the aligners are then developed.
The second visit involves placement of bonded tooth attachments, try-in of the first aligners, and review with the patient of how to use and maintain the aligners. Attachments are small, invisible bumps made of composite resin (the same material used for white bonded fillings) that allow the aligners to move teeth more effectively. The patient will be given the first several aligner sets to take home.
Each aligner is generally worn for one week before moving on to the next set. The patient will have a number of aligner sets at home, so it is not required to come into the office for each aligner change. The aligners should be worn for at least 22 hours per day and generally are removed only for eating, drinking, and brushing the teeth. They are easily cleaned by simply brushing with water only.
From there, patients will come into the office periodically for follow-up appointments to assure their treatment is proceeding properly and to give further sets of aligners. These are generally quick appointments, but they are important for assuring the teeth are moving as planned.
Once treatment is complete, the attachments are removed and retainers are made. After any orthodontic treatment, retainers are an important component to assuring the new smile and bite are maintained. There are a number of different retainer types available for use today. The best retainer style will depend on each individual case.
How does Invisalign compare to traditional braces?
Invisalign is similar to traditional braces in the sense that they are both methods for changing the position of teeth in the jaw. Successful orthodontics involves the placement of a consistent but light force in a certain direction in order to influence tooth movement. Invisalign aligners and braces are both ways of applying such forces, but they differ in how the force is applied to the teeth. Each custom printed Invisalign aligner stage is just slightly different than the stage before it, which lightly pushes the teeth in the desired direction. With conventional orthodontics using braces, forces are applied to teeth using metal brackets and wires, which work together to move teeth in the desired direction. The end goal is the same – an improved smile and bite for lifelong confidence and comfort.
How long does treatment with Invisalign take?
The overall length of Invisalign treatment varies depending on each individual patient’s unique circumstances and goals. For very minor movements, such as the correction of a single front tooth, treatment may be completed in as little as a few weeks using 5-10 aligners. More involved tooth movements may take over a year.
How can I find out if Invisalign is right for me?
Though there are many advantages of treatment with Invisalign, there are some situations or conditions that respond better to traditional braces. Here at 44 West Dental Professionals, Dr. Michael Wierenga has been trained and certified to deliver quality care using the Invisalign treatment system. If you are interested in finding out if Invisalign is right for you, give us a call at (616) 530-2200 to set up a consultation today!