When you think of braces, you likely think of the traditional metal braces that have been common for years. Today, however, patients undergoing orthodontic treatment have a few alternatives for straightening their smile. One popular option is Invisalign – a clear aligner that can be removed for eating and is almost impossible to see. You may be wondering, “Is Invisalign right for me?” The answer depends on a number of factors!
Read on to learn about some of the key questions you can ask to help identify if you may be a good candidate for Invisalign.
How Do Invisalign Aligners Work?
Unlike braces, which are adjusted over time, Invisalign aligners work by fitting you with a series of new trays that gradually move your teeth into position. There are no standardized trays – they’re designed for your teeth only, and each tray helps bring them closer to their ideal position.
Typically, you’ll move through trays at a pace of about one every two weeks. These trays will, on average, shift your teeth about one-quarter of a millimeter over those two weeks.
Because you must remove them to eat or brush your teeth, it’s important not to misplace them. If you lose an aligner or run into another issue, you’ll need to speak with your orthodontist to discuss your options.
What Are the Advantages of Invisalign?
Every orthodontic treatment option has its own benefits and drawbacks. Invisalign is a popular choice due to its many advantages over other types of braces:
Nearly Invisible – The most popular aspect of Invisalign is that they’re far more aesthetically-appealing. While traditional metal braces are usually somewhat visible, Invisalign aligners are nearly unnoticeable. For those that may be self-conscious but need orthodontic intervention, this can be a good solution to avoid visible brackets.
Removeable – Braces that use adjustable brackets stay on until your orthodontist is ready to remove them. Invisalign aligners, however, allow you to take them out on your own. However, you need to wear them for most of the day – about 22 hours each day in total. You remove them to eat or to drink. The one exception is water, which is okay to drink with the aligners in.
Less Irritation – One complaint that is common among those with new braces is irritation or mouth sores due to metal braces. The brackets in your mouth can be difficult for your body to acclimate to, leading to pain, sensitivity or general discomfort in the early weeks. Invisalign users often find that the clear aligners are more comfortable to wear.
Are Other Braces Better for My Needs?
Despite Invisalign’s benefits, it’s not suitable for every case. The effectiveness of Invisalign is typically limited to low-severity alignment issues and won’t be an option for severe malocclusions such as:
Severely Rotated Teeth – If your molars or other teeth are rotated greater than 20 degrees
Severely Tipped Teeth – If your teeth are positioned at an angle of 45 degrees or more from a healthy angle
Severe Gaps – Teeth with a total gap space of more than 6 millimeters per arch
There are other uncommon conditions that can also impact your eligibility for choosing Invisalign over more traditional options.
However, if you’re worried about the aesthetics of braces, you still have options!
Ceramic Braces – These function like traditional metal braces, but are clear or tooth-colored, which helps hide them compared to metal brackets.
Incognito Hidden Braces – Unlike traditional braces, hidden braces are placed behind your teeth. They function similarly to other braces but will be completely hidden except on very close inspection.
Can I Use Invisalign if I’ve Previously Used Braces?
Yes! Sometimes, even after undergoing thorough orthodontic treatment, you may need slight adjustments years later. This isn’t the case for every patient, but these slight adjustments are the perfect scenario for Invisalign!
Because you already had treatment, you likely will only need minor corrections for spacing or straightness. Since you will have already corrected the major issues that typically prevent Invisalign from being an option, you’ll likely be a perfect candidate!
Do I Need to Wear a Retainer After Treatment?
Yes. Retainers are important after any orthodontic treatment to help keep your newly adjusted teeth in their correct place. Without a retainer, you can lose months of results from your teeth attempting to shift back to their previous position.
Fortunately, there are clear retainers that can help you keep your teeth in place with the same subtlety offered by Invisalign’s aligners!