Since 2010, an increasing number of Brits have invested in orthodontic and dental procedures to improve the look of their smiles. In fact, spending on cosmetic dental and orthodontic procedures are up 27 percent to more than £1.86 billion.
While these figures might appear astounding on first glance, consider this. Three in every 10 UK adults feel dissatisfied with their grin. The media has exasperated this concern by focusing more heavily on the look of teeth in recent years.
Nevertheless, the cat’s out of the bag. Dentition now represents an important feature when it comes to appearance and personal image. Fortunately, you don’t need to guard your teeth under a smile-less visage.
You, too, can have a Cheshire Cat-worthy grin with Invisalign. But how does Invisalign work? Read on to learn more about this powerful procedure and how it can transform your look and your life.
What Is Invisalign?
Few advances have changed orthodontic treatments as much as the invention of Invisalign. This groundbreaking treatment for teeth straightening comes with many advantages.
These include tooth alignment correction without the appearance, discomfort, and disadvantages of metal braces. With metal braces, you must also contend with difficulty brushing around wires and brackets.
Improperly cleaning teeth can lead to bad breath, tooth decay, and staining. You can avoid all of these issues with Invisalign.
While Invisalign aligners don’t look completely invisible, they do prove far less obvious than braces. And you can easily remove them to properly clean your teeth.
That means no bad breath and far less risk of tooth decay and staining.
But can Invisalign correct the same issues as braces?
Invisalign comes with similar, sometimes superior, results. How? Incremental transparent aligners straighten the teeth over time.
How Does Invisalign Work?
The process begins when you visit an experienced Invisalign practitioner to have impressions of your teeth taken. These impressions then ship to Invisalign’s Juarez, Mexico, location where they get digitally scanned.
After being reviewed by an orthodontic technician in San Juan, Costa Rica, the digital scan is used to create a digital model. Then, Invisalign applies its proprietary algorithm to the model. This results in your ClinCheck.
Your ClinCheck represents a simulation of each two-week step in your progress from the smile you currently have to the smile of your dreams. Each two-week adjustment will move your teeth approximately 0.25 mm.
Your ClinCheck gets sent to your treating dentist and will prove them with important information about the length of your treatment and your expected outcome.
After reviewing the ClinCheck, your provider will make adjustments based on the problems you’d most like to correct and your intended goals. This enhanced ClinCheck will inform every stage of your dental correction.
What does Invisalign do for your smile? Let’s take a look at the types of problems that it can correct.
Rumours swirl about what Invisalign can and can’t address. For one, many naysayers claim that it can’t correct your bite. But this remains a misnomer.
Invisalign can and does help your bite, which, incidentally, traditional braces do not always do. In fact, Invisalign can even help individuals experiencing pain associated with TMJ or TMD, both results of improver bite alignment.
The aligners can act as a TMJ splint. This equalizes or removes the occlusal interference and the muscle discomfort that comes with it. So, you may find yourself pain-free while improving your outward appearance.
Correcting Common Orthodontic Problems
But what about underbites? Overbites? Crossbites and more?
Invisalign can help all of these conditions, too. Over the years, Invisalign has evolved into a sophisticated orthodontic tool that can improve a variety of common orthodontic problems.
That said, your results also depend on the provider that you choose — more about this later. So, make sure you communicate openly and honestly about the problems that you currently experience and would like to remedy.
What if your dental alignment correction requires that a tooth gets pulled or rotated? In such cases, it may prove necessary to use composite, tooth-coloured attachments bonded to certain teeth.
These additional attachments will make Invisalign more noticeable and may also increase your discomfort. Some patients report rubbing and irritation on their cheeks and tongues caused by the attachments.
On the bright side, these attachments may increase the rapidity of your dental correction. But you should discuss any concerns that you have with your provider.
In rare cases, where skeletal issues lay at the root of the problem, you may need to go with conventional braces. But such cases remain few and far between.
Getting Started with Invisalign
What should you expect during your first appointment? You’ll need to get your impressions or digital scans of your teeth made. Since digital scanners prove expensive, your dentist or orthodontist may send you to a lab for the process.
Or, they may opt to take conventional impressions, which can prove an uncomfortable process. The process may even make you feel like gagging. To remedy this feeling, stay calm and breathe through your nose.
Bringing along headphones to listen to music or a podcast can help distract you during the process.
Check Out Your ClinCheck
Once your scans have been sent off and you return to learn more about your ClinCheck, make sure you have a list of questions ready for your treating dentist or orthodontist.
First and foremost, ask to watch your Invisalign ClinCheck. This three-dimensional video simulation of how your teeth will move proves fascinating to watch.
It will also set your mind at ease by letting you see the precision with which your personalized treatment plan has been crafted. Seeing your final results will also help you stay motivated and upbeat throughout the process.
Other Questions to Ask
While conversing with your dentist or orthodontist at your follow-up appointment, inquire about how long your treatment will last. Ask about the cost for replacement aligners should an unforeseen accident happen.
Now’s also the time to ask about what to expect once you go home. Make sure you have a clear understanding of your responsibilities as an Invisalign patient. These include leaving the aligners in for at least 20 hours per day.
That said, Invisalign has come out with more recent recommendations that you should also ask your provider about. These include speeding up your alignment process by wearing each aligner for one week instead of two.
But you’ll have to wear them for no less than 22 hours per day. Your provider can tell you more about this adaptation to the treatment process and whether or not it’s right for you.
The Cost of Invisalign
Expect to pay about the same amount for Invisalign as you would for conventional braces. That said, some treating dentists do charge more based on the advantages, both aesthetically and comfort-wise, of the Invisalign procedure.
Choosing a Provider
Although orthodontists specialize in the adjustment of teeth, many general dentists also work with Invisalign. In fact, they may have many more years of experience than an orthodontist.
What should you look for when choosing a provider? Find a physician with loads of experience and a high number of Invisalign cases under their belt.
Fortunately, Invisalign has gone to great lengths to certify practitioners. They’ve also created a ranking system based on the practitioner’s experience level. That way, you can find the most experienced practitioner for your needs.
For example, Preferred providers work with at least 10 Invisalign patients each year. Premier providers work with 25 Invisalign patients every six months and have a total of 50 under their belt.
Finally, Premier Elite providers treat at least 50 Invisalign patients every six months, and they must accumulate a total of 300.
Find out more about finding the right provider and what they can do to enhance your smile.
How Do Invisalign Aligners Feel?
Conventional braces come with a fair amount of pain and discomfort–from broken wires that poke cheeks, gums, lips, and tongues to the pain of adjustments. Fortunately, you can kiss these discomforts behind when you opt for Invisalign.
Although you may experience some gum inflammation and aligner rub against your lips and tongue at first, the sensation will pass. What’s more, the discomfort proves much less acute than that associated with braces.
Caring for Your Aligners
Although you’ll find loads of products on the market to help you care for your aligners, the simplest solution represents the best. Place them in soft water with baking soda. This will keep them soft, wet, and clean.
Whatever you do, don’t let the aligners dry out. This can lead to plaque build up, which, in turn, could disrupt the health and cleanliness of your teeth.
Besides baking soda, give your aligners a good toothbrushing on occasion. Just avoid toothpaste as this could dull your Invisalign’s finish making your teeth appear equally dull.
Your Teeth After Invisalign
After Invisalign, your provider may need to make a few additional adjustments to your smile. This is known as the “refinement period” and will ensure you end up with the grin or your dreams.
Once you’ve finished the procedure and feel amazed by your gorgeous new smile, you’ll want to protect it. This proves simple and easy. Just make sure you wear a retainer at night.
Most retainers will last between five and ten years, so you don’t have to replace them often. Replacement retainers prove affordable, and you won’t have to make any future impressions to get a replacement.
The Benefits of Invisalign
The benefits of Invisalign prove many. The clear aligners appear less obtrusive than conventional braces. And they often work more quickly because they move your teeth all at the same time.
Invisalign proves more comfortable because you don’t have to contend with sharp corners or wires, and they involve fewer trips to the dentist or orthodontist than conventional braces.
What’s more, Invisalign moves teeth in ways that regular braces don’t. This means less risk of your teeth’s roots shrinking. (With conventional braces, the excessive force can negatively impact your roots.)
Conventional braces often result in bad breath. Why? Because let’s face it, it proves nearly impossible to clean around each bracket.
But you can remove your Invisalign aligners to properly brush your teeth and floss them regularly. You’ll also find yourself brushing and flossing more often.
Finally, you can keep your last pair of aligners for the rest of your life. They can even double as a mouth guard or whitening tray.
The Downside of Invisalign
As with all things, there are cons to Invisalign. But they prove few.
You can expect to experience speech issues, such as a lisp, for the first two to four days after donning your first pair of aligners.
Why? Because the aligners represent a thin layer of plastic that go directly over your teeth. Although they click tightly into place, you’ll still have to get used to talking with them.
You’ll also need to make sure that you always remove and store your aligners before eating. Remember to brush your teeth before putting your aligners back in.
Depending on how crowded your teeth are, you may experience trouble removing the aligners. Use a Smart retainer remover to make the process a cinch.
Because you have to think before eating, some patients report experiencing weight loss. But this is hardly a downside for most of these patients, especially since it forces them to think more conscientiously about eating and snacking.
Although Invisalign liners prove more comfortable than conventional braces, you’re still placing something foreign into your mouth. The aligners might bother your tongues, lips, and gums. But you’ll get used to them over time.
In extremely rare cases, a patient may prove allergic to Invisalign. Again, this happens rarely. But if this proves the case, Invisalign will provide a full refund.
A Smile That Lights Up the Room
There’s never been a better time to invest in yourself and your smile. Now that we’ve answered the question, “How does Invisalign work?” do you feel ready to give them a try?
Read on for 12 things you should know before making a commitment to the Invisalign procedure.