Not so long ago, if you wanted a straighter smile you were limited to treatment with a set of bulky metal braces. While they were able to get the job done and produce impressive results, they didn’t offer patients too much in the way of freedom or flexibility. When it comes to modern orthodontics, however, it’s a whole new world! There have been so many advancements in both technology and technique that patients have more treatment options now than ever before. One of these options is aligners like Invisalign, our most popular alternative to traditional braces.
The Invisalign clear aligner system is an exciting way to get the same results as braces, without having to use any metal brackets, wires, or bands. If you’ve been considering orthodontic treatment, but aren’t sure about committing to traditional braces, Invisalign could be just what you’re looking for! But what exactly is Invisalign? How does it work? Let’s take a closer look at the Invisalign system below.
What is Invisalign?
As a fixed appliance, traditional braces have brackets that are glued to the teeth and attached to wires that can only be removed by an orthodontist. Invisalign, however, uses a series of removable clear trays instead. These aligners may look simple enough, but they’re actually made of a special thermoplastic resin that’s capable of moving the teeth into alignment over time. In order to achieve this, the custom-made aligners are switched out at predetermined intervals throughout the treatment process.
How does Invisalign work?
The first step in any orthodontic journey is an initial consultation with an experienced orthodontist. When you schedule your first visit with McGrory Orthodontics, one of our doctors will thoroughly examine your mouth, discuss any orthodontic issues they find, and determine if your smile is a good fit for Invisalign.
When you decide to move forward with treatment, we can then begin mapping out a precise treatment plan personalized just for you. This plan is based on a highly detailed 3D scan of your teeth and gums, and will include the exact movements we want your teeth to make. It also gives us an indication of how long treatment is likely to take in your case.
Once this custom plan is in place, we’ll start designing your aligners using the same 3D scan and Invisalign’s SmartTrack® material. This special material is durable, comfortable, and nearly invisible, making it the perfect choice for a patient wanting a subtle treatment option! Because every case is unique, the total number of aligners needed will vary by patient, but the average tends to be somewhere between 10 and 48. Total treatment times will also vary from case to case, but generally run about 6-18 months for most patients.
Since Invisalign aligners are removable instead of fixed, your compliance is essential to the treatment process. For aligners to work properly, you must wear them for 20-22 hours every day until treatment is complete. Depending on your specific treatment plan, you’ll need to switch to the next aligner in the series every 1-2 weeks. You can also expect follow-up visits to be scheduled every 8-12 weeks or so. During these appointments, one of our doctors will check the movements your teeth are making, and ensure everything is proceeding according to plan.
What are the benefits of Invisalign?
Besides the obvious benefits that come with clear, removable aligners, Invisalign has other attractive features. For example, the food restrictions that come with braces can be a bit of a bump in the road. Patients need to avoid anything too chewy or crunchy until treatment is complete, like chips, popcorn, nuts, some raw fruits and veggies, and many kinds of candy, too. While all the effort is definitely worth it in the end, it can still be a bit frustrating sometimes.
On the other hand, there are no food restrictions with Invisalign aligners. Since they’re designed to be removed when you eat or drink anything other than water, you’re still welcome to indulge in all your favorite foods, even during the treatment process!
The removable aligners also make it easy to take good care of your teeth and gums. This is important for everyone, but especially orthodontic patients. Unfortunately, braces can make brushing and flossing a difficult and time-consuming job. With Invisalign, aligners are simply taken out before your regular brushing and flossing, and cleaning them is a cinch, too! There are special kits designed to clean Invisalign aligners, or you can gently clean them yourself using denture crystals and a soft toothbrush. Avoid using toothpaste, though, as this can cause scratches on the aligners.
Who is a good candidate for Invisalign?
Invisalign tends to work best for teen and adult patients who have mild to moderate orthodontic issues. For cases that are complex or severe, more precise tooth control than a removable aligner is able to achieve may be required. When you have your initial consultation with us, one of our doctors will let you know if Invisalign is a good fit for you. If a more traditional treatment method would be better, they’ll recommend that to you instead.
What happens once Invisalign treatment is complete?
Whether you straighten your teeth with braces, Invisalign, or some other method, they will still retain memories of their previous place in the mouth. In addition, there’s a natural tendency for them to drift back to those original positions over time. This is exactly why it’s so important to wear a retainer regularly! Once your Invisalign treatment is complete, you’ll be provided with a new retainer to help prevent drifting. To keep your newly straightened smile in place, you should always wear it exactly as directed.
Invisalign is the clear choice with McGrory Orthodontics
Invisalign continues to grow in popularity, changing the way people view orthodontic treatment daily. If you’d like to learn more about how this innovative clear aligner system could improve your smile, get in touch with our Pearland or Bellaire office today to schedule a complimentary consultation. Our expert team is waiting to help you achieve the smile you’ve always dreamed of!