As one of the most popular alternatives to traditional braces, Invisalign clear aligner therapy is changing the way people think about orthodontic treatment. If you’re unfamiliar with it, Invisalign is an innovative treatment option that gives patients the same beautiful results as braces without using any brackets, wires, or bands. Because the aligners are removable, the system offers a measure of freedom and flexibility that other methods of treatment simply can’t match. This makes Invisalign especially attractive to teen and adult patients!
If you’ve been thinking about taking the first step towards a straighter smile with Invisalign, you may be feeling excited but nervous, too. This is especially true if you don’t know much about it or what you can expect from the treatment process. Here at Dunn Orthodontics, we always want you to feel confident in our care and the treatment options we offer. Let’s take a closer look at what Invisalign is, how it works, and how you can achieve a beautiful smile with our Invisalign survival guide!
What is Invisalign?
Traditional braces are what we call a fixed appliance, which means an orthodontist attaches brackets directly to your teeth, and is the only one who can remove them. Wires and bands are used in conjunction with these to move the teeth into more desirable positions. Invisalign is a removable appliance, and shifts teeth using a series of removable clear aligners. The aligners are made of a special thermoplastic resin that’s custom-designed to fit comfortably over your own teeth. Because they are removable and almost invisible, Invisalign aligners can be an excellent alternative to traditional braces for some patients.
How does Invisalign work?
Once our doctors have determined that you are a good fit for Invisalign treatment, we’ll begin the process of custom designing your aligners. We’ll use a highly-detailed 3D scan of your teeth and gums to map out a precise treatment plan that’s personalized for your unique smile. This plan will include the exact movements we want your teeth to make, and should also give us an indication of how long we expect treatment to take.
Invisalign aligners are created from a special SmartTrack® material, which is strong but still comfortable. The total number of aligners required will vary from case to case, but on average, a patient will need anywhere from 20-40 aligners over the course of their treatment. Like the number of aligners necessary, treatment times will also vary depending on your specific needs, but the process will generally take anywhere from 9-15 months. Keep in mind that this could be longer or shorter for you depending on your particular case and treatment plan.
Because Invisalign doesn’t rely on a fixed appliance, how compliant you are plays a big role in how successful treatment will be! It’s up to you to wear your removable aligners exactly as directed by our doctors. To produce the best results, Invisalign aligners must be worn for at least 20-22 hours every day throughout treatment. Ideally, you will only remove them to eat or drink anything other than water, or when you are brushing and flossing your teeth.
To keep up with the movements your teeth are making, aligners will need to be switched out for the next in the series at regular intervals. This will usually be every 1-2 weeks, but it will depend on your personalized treatment plan. As with braces, you’ll need to see us for regular check-ups every 10 weeks or so. During these visits, Dr. Courtney or Dr. Matthew Dunn will check to be sure your teeth are moving the way we want them to, and that everything is proceeding according to your treatment plan. These are an important part of the orthodontic process, so try not to cancel or reschedule unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Caring for your Invisalign aligners
Oral care is important whether you’re an orthodontic patient or not. Caring for your teeth and gums can sometimes be frustrating and time-consuming with braces, since there are many nooks and crannies to keep clean. This couldn’t be easier with Invisalign! Simply remove the aligner before brushing and flossing the way you normally would. We recommend brushing at least twice a day for two minutes each time, and flossing every night before bed.
You’ll need to take good care of your aligners, too. Dried saliva and plaque can breed bacteria in the trays, so you should rinse them every time you take one out. To keep them clear and sanitized, you can soak aligners in denture cleaner or with special Invisalign cleaning crystals. Aligners can be brushed, too, but be sure to do so gently and carefully. Brushing too hard can scratch your aligners and leave visible etchings on them. Never use toothpaste on your aligners, as this can actually damage the material. Many toothpaste brands have abrasive agents that give your smile extra sparkle, but may dull your aligners or create small openings for bacteria to grow in them.
Who are the best candidates for Invisalign?
Invisalign can be a great option for many mild to moderate orthodontic issues in teens and adults. Sometimes cases that are more severe or complex may respond better to more traditional treatment methods. When you schedule a free consultation with one of our four offices, we’ll be able to determine if Invisalign is likely to be a good fit for you and your smile.
What happens once Invisalign treatment is complete?
Whether you wear braces, Invisalign aligners, or some other orthodontic appliance, your teeth will always retain memories of their previous place in your mouth. Over time, they’ll begin to naturally drift back towards those original positions. This is why retainers are such an important part of the complete treatment process! Once you’ve finished your Invisalign treatment, our office will provide you with a retainer. Wearing it exactly as directed will help prevent any natural drifting and give you long-lasting results.
Invisalign is the clear choice for a beautiful smile at Dunn Orthodontics
Here at Dunn Orthodontics, we’re committed to providing patients with an orthodontic experience that’s as positive and stress-free as possible. Like anything new in life, the Invisalign system can take a little getting used to, but before you know it, the aligners will be just one more part of your daily routine!
Remember that if you ever have any questions or concerns about your treatment plan or the Invisalign system, our talented team is always available to help set your mind at ease. For more information on how Invisalign could benefit your smile, give us a call today to schedule a FREE consultation! This is the perfect time to take the first step towards a healthier, straighter smile.