We call them invisible braces, even if in the end Invisalign doesn’t rely on the traditional metal braces system. There are no wires or ligatures in there, nothing metal, just some clear plastic custom-made aligners and few attachments that have the same colour as your teeth have.
Invisalign is one of the newest orthodontic treatments allowing many patients to straighten their crooked teeth without others noticing this.
You wear some plastic aligners on your teeth and they do the job. Invisalign doesn’t rely on a fixed system (as the classical braces), but on mobile aligners. You take them out to eat and brush, then place the clear aligners back.
How does Invisalign® treatment work?
At first you are given this choice if your orthodontist has a license to use this system and if your case is not that complex. In my case for instance, the teeth were too crooked at first, so I had to wear Damon braces for 7 months (on the lateral teeth, to solve some of the big problems) and afterwards I was able to get Invisalign.
Since I was a 30 year old woman and also had my own web design firm, you can imagine I wasn’t too pleased to sport a metal mouth. The Damon system worked nicely and it didn’t show (since the front teeth weren’t braced) and then Invisalign would finish the job.
Only your orthodontist can know for sure. You can use another system and then Invisalign or just go for the invisible braces, if your doctor advises you to.
In order for your treatment to begin, your doctor will take molds of your teeth and these will be sent to Align Technologies. There, your molds will be used to prepare the treatment in a 3D computerized system and the aligners you’ll wear.
Your orthodontist will show you the animation and you’ll accept or decline the treatment. You’ll be able to see your teeth moving till the final step.
After you have accepted the treatment, you’ll receive your first set of aligners. Your doctor will help you put them on your teeth and some attachments might be added. The attachments have the same color as your teeth and are very discreet. Some orthodontists don’t use attachments, so it depends on your doctor.
You wear a set for 1 or 2 weeks. Then another one and another one. All aligners come packed with your name on the bag, the aligner number and the total number of aligners.
From this total number you can know how long your orthodontic treatment will be: in my case I had 26 aligners for the upper teeth and 37 for the lower ones (this meant 13 months for the upper teeth and 18 months and a half for the others).
You are advised to wear them for 22+ hours a day. The more you respect this requirement, the better. Take out your Invisalign aligners for eating and oral hygiene and then place them back. Some lisp is also possible in the first days, but it does get better.
As a Damon braces patient before I can tell you that Invisalign was a walk in the park compared with the metal braces. I did have some slight pain in the first 2 days, but nothing compared with not being able to eat anything than very soft food for 10 days (as it happened with Damon). Some Invisalign patients consider the treatment to be hard, but I can tell you its one of the easiest.
Find out more about How Does Invisalign Work
What Are the Benefits of Clear Aligners Over Traditional Braces?
The biggest selling point is that Invisalign doesn’t show as much as braces. Even with ceramic braces on, unless you wear lingual braces (such as Incognito) people can see you are straightening your teeth.
Not that it should be a problem, let’s face it, most adults in the US had braces, it’s just like having acne – we all went through that.
Even so, there are people who are more self-conscious about their looks, maybe they are celebrities or they just don’t want to show a mouthful of braces.
They may qualify for Invisalign.
More Information About The Invisalign Orthodontic Treatment:
- you might face problems with taking out the aligners the first time. You might not be used to this. I found it easier to take the aligners from the laterals (molars) and then from the front teeth. The attachments might prove tricky: I just placed my nail under the attachment (take care to not hurt your gums) and lift a bit till the aligner got loose from the attachment. With some experience you’ll be able to take out the aligners fast
- don’t lose your Invisalign aligners. You have a nice box for the aligners. Try to not misplace them since it would be bad for your treatment. You’d have to wear the old ones and wait for the duplicates. DON’T LOSE THEM!
- you will tend to brush like a maniac. Whenever I ate, I just took out my aligners, eat and then brush and then place back. Never had such clean teeth. Try to also clean the aligners, they’ll smell very bad otherwise.
- you might experience some slight pain. Some people complain about big tooth pains, it all depends on your body in the end. Just take some painkillers if you cant cope with the pain. It will pass in few days.
- you’ll talk funny for few days. Even if so, you’ll still be able to discuss almost normally, so don’t expect to be too funny. I was a radio DJ and wore my aligners since day one. I did have some slight issues with my diction, but I was getting better.
Invisalign pros and cons
Just like any other type of braces, Invisalign is not perfect and it’s not suited for any patient. Here are the main pros and const of the Invisalign orthodontic treatment:
- the Invisalign aligners are INVISIBLE. All my friends had to take a really good look at my mouth to spot them. If you don’t drink coffee or coke with them on, your aligners will remain clean and invisible for the 2 weeks you are supposed to wear them.
- easy to clean: I just used mouthwash and my toothpaste for them
- they don’t stain (unless you drink something that might do the trick)
- the mouth sores can happen, but we are talking less damage than from metal braces. I recall using dental wax for 3 weeks with the Damon braces, for Invisalign I had to use it for about 2 days. (Find out more if you get canker sores from braces
- you can see how your teeth will look at the end of the orthodontic treatment. It’s a great motivation booster.
- it’s costly. The system is not that cheap, and most likely your health insurance wont cover it.
- fewer doctors who can use it (compared to traditional braces). Just go to Invisalign.com and see the doctors in your area.
- if your case is complex, you might not be able to get Invisalign.
- the treatment can be sometimes longer than with traditional metal braces
- you need to be VERY serious with your hygiene.
- it’s mandatory that you wear your aligners as much as possible, otherwise your treatment will take longer. No.1 reason for Invisalign not fitting properly anymore (poor tracking, as it’s called), is the fact patients don’t wear their clear aligners as much as needed.
F.A.Q about Invisalign
How much does invisalign cost?
The Invisalign treatment cost depends on the complexity of the case and the orthodontist itself. Prices can range from $3,500 to $7,000.
how long does invisalign treatment take?
Again, it depends. Some patients finish treatment in 6-10 months, others could wear Invisalign for close to 2 years. Your orthodontist, when discussing treatment plans with you, can tell you how much time you should expect to be in “braces”, until you have straight teeth.
Is invisalign treatment right for me?
Patients with moderate malocclusions (bites) and less complex teeth crowding can get Invisalign. If your orthodontic case is more complicated, your doctor will recommend metal braces, as they are strong and extremely effective, plus other orthodontic appliances (such as Herbst).
Right now Invisalign are the leaders in clear aligners, there are some internet based companies that provide similar solutions, but with little to no orthodontic followup. Ideally, speak to an experienced orthodontist, get checked up and then decide together.
Are Clear Aligners Worth the Cost?
It depends. In my case, as Invisalign couldn’t solve my complex misalignments and malocclusions, it wasn’t worth the hassle. But there are many ecstatic patients who can attest that Invisalign was exactly what the doctor ordered.