Invisalign – How it Works & What it Costs?

Invisalign clear aligners are removable orthodontic appliances offered as an alternative to more traditional orthodontic solutions. A type of clear tooth aligner, Invisalign is intended for people who find the idea of a mouthful of metal braces and brackets – however effective – too unattractive to commit to. If you’re a candidate, you can maintain your smile aesthetics while straightening your teeth.

The Invisalign Clear Aligners System

The use of a series of removable aligners for the adjustment of occlusion (bite) is not new. The Invisalign method is based on a concept first introduced in the 1940s and revisited in the 1970s that required a series of dental impressions to determine the optimal position of the teeth. The update method is simpler than its predecessors, requiring only one set of impressions and photographs of the teeth, taken during an initial consultation.
These impressions are used to create a three-dimensional computer projection of how the teeth could be moved incrementally, forming the basis for developing a series of custom-made aligners designed to accomplish this movement.
Invisalign aligners are manufactured at the Align Technologies dental laboratory using computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) processes. The aligners are sent to the dentist, who typically dispenses them in groups of one or two at a time during regular check-up appointments (about every four to six weeks) so that treatment can be properly managed. Each aligner must be worn in its specific order for about two weeks, during which time it moves the teeth in small increments of about .25 millimeters to .33 millimeters. Although the aligners are removable (for eating, drinking certain beverages and brushing/flossing), they must be worn at least 20 hours a day in order to reposition the teeth successfully.
A typical treatment requires 20 to 30 aligners for both the upper and lower teeth. Most adults complete their treatment in less than one year. However, treatment time depends on the specific alignment problem.

Are You a Candidate?

Invisalign is currently approved for adults and teenagers with completely erupted permanent teeth who can faithfully follow the directions for treatment – how long they have to wear the aligners each day, what they can and cannot eat and drink, seeing their dentist for follow-up appointments, etc. For example, dentists recommend that you drink only water while wearing the aligners, to prevent staining of the plastic. If you do not follow treatment recommendations, you may compromise treatment success.

According to researchers and Align Technologies, Invisalign can be used to correct the following types of mild dental problems:

  • Overly crowded teeth. When there is not enough room in the jaw for all of the teeth to fit comfortably or normally (one to five millimeters).
  • Widely spaced teeth. When there is too much space between the teeth due to abnormal growth of the jaw or shifting of the teeth due to missing teeth (one millimeter to five millimeters).
  • Overbite/overjet. When the upper teeth bite over the lower teeth.
  • Crossbite. When the upper and lower jaws are misaligned, causing one or more upper teeth to bite on the inside of the lower teeth, on either the front and/or sides of the mouth.
  • Mild relapse. After traditional braces have been removed, when some relapsing tooth movement has occurred.
  • Invisalign may also be a treatment alternative for certain simple malocclusions (bite irregularities).
Another factor used to determine dental braces candidacy is general oral health. If you have underlying dental concerns such as tooth decay, gum disease, etc. you will first need to correct the issues before orthodontics can be considered.

Invisalign Clear ALigners candidates tend to represent a smaller group than traditional dental braces candidates. This is primarily due to the fact that Invisalign is more limited in terms of treating serious orthodontic cases. Whereas traditional dental braces can treat complex malocclusions, Invisalign might not be an option. However, for simpler orthodontic fixes, Invisalign offers a shorter-duration option called Invisalign Express. This is a less-expensive, abbreviated version of Invisalign.

Currently, Invisalign is approved for use in adults and teenagers (Invisalign Teen) with fully erupted permanent teeth. Young children may not be good candidates for Invisalign due to the fact that the process requires strict adherence to the treatment plan, which includes removing the aligners only when eating, drinking brushing and flossing. (Water may be consumed while wearing the aligners.)
As with traditional wire and bracket braces, general oral health concerns like gum disease and tooth decay must first be managed before treatment can be considered.
The only way to determine unequivocally if you are a candidate for traditional dental braces or an Invisalign clear aligner solution is to speak with a dentist or orthodontist to undergo an oral health consultation.



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