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What is Invisalign?
Your Invisalign treatment will consist of a series of clear plastic aligners that you switch out about every two weeks. Each aligner is individually manufactured with exact calculations to gradually shift your teeth into place. And since your Invisalign system is custom-made for your teeth and your teeth only, with a plan devised by you and your dentist or orthodontist, you know you’ll end up with a smile that truly fits.
How are they made?
Visit us for a consultation to discuss the goals you have for your smile. Once your dentist determines that Invisalign is right for you, he or she will write up a detailed treatment plan, and a set of virtually invisible aligners will then be sent to your dentist. Your Invisalign system may look like a simple piece of plastic, but it’s much more. With advanced technology, your Invisalign aligners are custom-made for you, and only you. Over time, your teeth should move to reveal the smile you’ve been looking for.
During this visit, you’ll discuss the issues you have with your teeth and what kind of results you would like to see. Once your dentist decides your situation is suitable for Invisalign treatment, a treatment plan will be mapped out with your goals in mind. Then, impressions and pictures of your teeth will be taken for digitization purposes.
The impressions of your teeth will be digitized in order for your dentist to work with a computerized 3-D image of your teeth. Then, your dentist will plan your tooth movements throughout your entire treatment timeline. You’ll be able to see a virtual representation of your teeth before, during, and after completion of the Invisalign process so you can see what your smile should look like when you’re done with treatment.
From your dentist’s precise treatment plan, customized aligners are created with advanced technology for you to wear at each stage of your treatment. While the number of aligners varies for each individual situation, a full set of treatment typically includes 20-30 aligners per arch.
You should wear your aligners at all times, with the exception of eating and drinking, in order to complete your treatment in the timeline determined by you and your dentist. You’ll go in for occasional checkups, to monitor your progress and to receive your next set of aligners. During the entire treatment process, you’ll be able to watch your teeth gradually moving into place. Your smile will, little by little, move into something you’d like to show off.
Would they work for me?
Not only is Invisalign versatile, helping to correct a broad range of dental and orthodontic issues, but it really works. And there are over half a million smiles to back that up. But a confident smile isn’t the only benefit of correcting your dental issues with custom-made Invisalign aligners—your health can be positively impacted as well. Learn more about several common issues below that an experienced Invisalign dentist can work with you to correct.
Overly crowded teeth
This occurs when there is simply a lack of room within your jaw for all of your teeth to fit normally. When left untreated, overly crowded teeth can cause dental decay, an increase in chances of gum disease, and can prevent the normal function of teeth.
Widely spaced teeth
This occurs with abnormal continued growth of the jaw bone. When teeth are missing, this issue can also be caused by the other teeth shifting due to extra space. Spacing issues in teeth can cause some periodontal diseases.
This occurs when the upper and lower jaws are both misaligned. It causes one or more upper teeth to bite on the inside of the lower teeth, and can happen on both the front and/or the sides of the mouth. This issue can cause wear of the teeth, gum disease, and bone loss.
What people commonly refer to as an “overbite” is known to dental professionals as “overjet.” It occurs when the upper teeth bite over the lower teeth. It’s typically caused by either genetics, bad oral habits, or over development of the bone that supports the teeth. This issue can lead to gum problems or irritation, and/or wear on the lower teeth and can cause painful jaw and joint problems.
This occurs when the lower teeth protrude past the front teeth. It’s usually caused by undergrowth of the upper jaw, overgrowth of the lower jaw, or both. It can also be caused by missing upper teeth. This issue can prevent the normal function of front teeth or molars which can lead to tooth wear. It can also cause painful jaw and joint problems.
An Invisalign dentist will work with you to create a custom-designed program that will treat your specific dental or orthodontic issue(s). Your treatment program will consist of a full set of aligners, made for you, and only you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Invisalign ?
Invisalign is the invisible way to straighten teeth without braces. Invisalign uses a series of clear, removable aligners to gradually straighten teeth, without metal or wires.
Invisalign uses 3-D computer imaging technology to depict the complete treatment plan from the initial position to the final desired position from which a series of custom-made, clear “aligners” are produced. Each “aligner” moves teeth incrementally and is worn for about two weeks, then replaced by the next in the series until the final position is achieved.
What are the primary benefits of Invisalign?
- Invisalign is clear. You can straighten your teeth without anyone knowing.
- Invisalign is removable. Unlike braces, you can eat and drink what you want during treatment. You can also brush and floss normally to maintain good oral hygiene.
- Invisalign is comfortable. There are no metal brackets or wires as with braces to cause mouth irritation, and no metal or wires means you spend less time in the doctor’s chair getting adjustments.
- Invisalign allows you to view your own virtual treatment plan before you start—so you can see how your straight teeth will look when your treatment is complete.
What are aligners made of?
Aligners are made of clear, strong medical grade plastic that is virtually invisible when worn.
What do aligners look like?
Aligners are clear and look similar to tooth-whitening trays, but are custom-made for a better fit to move teeth. Some orthodontists and dentists have referred to them as “contact lenses for teeth.”
Is this a new way to straighten teeth?
For years, orthodontists and dentists have used removable appliances for limited treatment. Today, with the application of computer technology and custom manufacturing, Invisalign treats a broader range of cases with greater precision.
How old is the company?
Align Technology, Inc., the company that manufactures Invisalign, was founded in 1997. Since then, Align has manufactured over 18,000,000 aligners and over 890,000 patients have been in treatment.
How old is this technology?
In 1945, Dr. H.D. Kesling envisioned that one day modern technology would enable the use of a series of tooth positioners to produce the kinds of movements required for comprehensive orthodontic treatment. Technology has made this vision a reality. Using advanced computer technology, Align generates Invisalign®, a series of customized clear appliances, called “aligners.” Each aligner is worn sequentially by the patient to produce extensive tooth movements in both upper and lower arches.
How many patients are being treated with Invisalign?
Worldwide, over 890,000 patients have been treated with Invisalign. The number grows daily.
Do doctors need special training in order to use Invisalign?
While Invisalign can be used with virtually any treatment philosophy, specific training is needed. All orthodontists and dentists interested in treating patients with Invisalign must attend training before cases will be accepted from their office. Over 35,000 orthodontists and dentists worldwide are accredited to use Invisalign.
How does Invisalign effectively move teeth?
Like brackets and arch wires are to braces, Invisalign aligners move teeth through the appropriate placement of controlled force on the teeth. The principal difference is that Invisalign not only controls forces, but also controls the timing of the force application. At each stage, only certain teeth are allowed to move, and these movements are determined by the orthodontic treatment plan for that particular stage. This results in an efficient force delivery system.
Has the FDA cleared Invisalign?
Yes, the FDA has reviewed our application and in August 1998 determined that Invisalign is exempt from 510(k) pre-market notification.
What is Invisalign Express?
Invisalign Express is an orthodontic treatment designed to correct mild orthodontic problems such as minor crowding and spacing. Since it’s designed for mild problems only, treatment time is generally less than six months. Ask your Invisalign accredited doctor for more information on this new treatment.
Will the treatment be painful?
Most people experience temporary discomfort for a few days at the beginning of each new stage of treatment. This is normal and is typically described as a feeling of pressure. It is a sign that Invisalign® is working—sequentially moving your teeth to their final destination. This discomfort typically goes away a couple of days after you insert the new aligner in the series.
Will wearing Invisalign aligners affect my speech?
Like all orthodontic treatments, aligners may temporarily affect the speech of some people, and you may have a slight lisp for a day or two. However, as your tongue gets used to having aligners in your mouth, any lisp caused by the aligners should disappear.
Are there restrictions on what I can eat while in treatment?
No. Unlike traditional wires and brackets, you can eat whatever you desire while in treatment because you remove your aligners to eat and drink. Thus, there is no need to restrict your consumption of any of your favorite foods and snacks, unless instructed otherwise by your doctor. Also, it is important that you brush your teeth after each meal and prior to re-inserting your aligners to maintain proper hygiene.
Will smoking stain the aligners?
We discourage smoking while wearing aligners because it is possible for the aligners to become discolored.
Can I chew gum while wearing aligners?
No, gum will stick to the aligners. We recommend removing your aligners for all meals and snacks.
What’s the best way to clean my aligners?
The best way to clean your aligners is by brushing and rinsing them in lukewarm water.
How often must I wear my aligners?
Aligners should be worn all day, except when eating, brushing and flossing.
Can patients use aligners for bleaching teeth while active tooth movement is occurring?
While we are aware that some patients are using aligners for bleaching, Align has not examined the compatibility of currently available bleaching products with our aligners, nor have we demonstrated its efficacy in clinical studies. Align recommends that you consult your orthodontist or dentist for more information on whitening teeth.
How often must I see the Invisalign Accredited Orthodontist or Dentist?
Your orthodontist/dentist will schedule regular appointments—usually about once every 4-6 weeks. This is the only way your doctor can be sure that the treatment is progressing as planned.
What happens after treatment to prevent my teeth from moving again?
This depends on the outcome of the treatment. Some patients might need a positioner, or conventional retainer. Other patients might need a clear plastic retainer similar to the ones Invisalign makes. Discuss these possibilities with your treating orthodontist or dentist. Every patient is different and outcomes vary.