Invisalign 101: Everything You Need to Know

What to know about invisalign?
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If you are considering straightening your teeth, you are not alone. About 4 million people in North America undergo some form of orthodontic, tooth straightening treatment each year. While you might not be so keen on traditional wire braces, this shouldn’t stop you from discussing the treatments available. 

Invisalign offers an excellent alternative to traditional braces for people who want to improve their smile. The system uses clear dental aligners to help ease your teeth into position getting the same results as braces. Here is everything you need to know about Invisalign.

What is Invisalign?

In orthodontics, Invisalign is a treatment used to align teeth using a series of clear aligners.

How are Invisalign aligners made?

Aligners are created using computer-generated images and impressions of your mouth. We use those impressions to create customized aligners designed to ease your teeth into the ideal position.

What’s the difference between Invisalign and braces?

Other than their appearance, traditional braces use wires fixed to the teeth to pull the teeth into alignment while Invisalign aligners use the position of the moulds to force teeth into the ideal position. While both improve alignment and oral health, more and more people are discovering the benefits of using Invisalign instead of traditional braces including:

  • Appearance: First and foremost people usually choose Invisalign because the clear aligner trays are virtually invisible while wire braces, even when tinted white, are far more noticeable.
  • Convenience: Invisalign braces are removable allowing you to brush your teeth more easily and also remove them when eating. Your oral care is made easier, and you don’t have to contend with issues such as food getting caught in the wires.
  • Length of Treatment: The Invisalign process can take from six to 18 months, while traditional braces average two years.
  • Price: Invisalign tends to be more expensive than traditional wire braces, but can be more affordable than ceramic braces.
  • Adjustments: Invisalign aligners are adjusted by switching to a new set of trays at home every week or two, while braces require in-office adjustments by an orthodontist.

Can anyone use Invisalign?

In most cases, Invisalign is an excellent solution for people wishing to improve the appearance of their smile by straightening. They are suitable for teens and adults of all ages but are not recommended for those requiring corrective work on back teeth.

How does Invisalign work?

Your first appointment is a consultation to discuss your needs and determine if Invisalign treatment is suitable. If it is, we will then take computer-generated images of your teeth and mouth which are used to develop the plan for your series of aligners. The process can change a little if you need “preparatory work”. This consists of adding small composite patches to your teeth to provide improved grip for the aligners. Some patients might also require what is called “interproximal reduction”. This procedure creates more space between teeth in patients who have crowding. The teeth are sanded down to reduce restrictions and make it easier for your teeth to move into place. Patients will then go through the following steps:

  • Fitting: Once your aligners are ready, you can come to our office to pick them up. You will try them on for size to make sure they feel tight and fit properly. If we find the fit is not ideal, we might decide to do some preparatory work, or change the moulds to get it right. Although you might find the trays feel uncomfortable, this does not mean the fit is incorrect. We will check to make sure any discomfort is temporary and a matter of you getting used to the trays. If they feel very painful or uncomfortable, let us know so we can look more carefully for signs of fit issues.
  • Switching aligners: We will send you home with all the sets of your clear Invisalign aligners. Instead of coming to our office for adjustments, we provide a schedule for you to change them every one or two weeks. Each aligner is slightly different providing new positioning for your teeth to adjust to. If you experience pain or ongoing discomfort you can call our office so we can have you come in for an assessment.

What happens as I wear my Invisalign braces?

You will definitely have to adjust to the feel of your aligners. Because they are designed to reposition your teeth, you’ll probably feel like something is wrong. However, this feeling is expected and just takes some time to adapt to when wearing them. The important thing is why your teeth feel so odd. Each set of aligners is moulded to a slightly different position for each tooth. The feeling you experience is your teeth actually moving into a new position.

As you come to the end of each aligner period, you will probably realize the trays feel much more comfortable. And just as you get used to them, it’s time to start the process again with a new set. So, as each new set is used, you will experience that same initial discomfort. A good tip is to switch them before bed, take an over-the-counter pain reliever and sleep it off. By morning, your teeth will have adjusted, and your discomfort will be minimal.

Are there any side effects to wearing Invisalign aligners?

Other than the feeling of discomfort for the first few days of switching your aligners, you might experience tooth sensitivity. Again, this should subside once you’ve been wearing the new set of aligners for a few days. In the meantime, you can use toothpaste for sensitive teeth to reduce the discomfort. Some people feel awkward when speaking but this will change as you get used to the trays.  

How often can I take my aligners out?

The answer is as little as possible. In order to see the best results, you are supposed to wear your trays at least 22 hours a day. This provides just enough time to remove them to eat, and brush and floss. While you can sometimes squeeze in a little more time for something like class photos, or maybe even a wedding or prom, you really should wear them as often as possible.

To learn more about Invisalign, call Bristol Dental at 905-712-3409 or contact us here

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