If you need orthodontics, you’ll want to investigate Invisalign, the new technology that can replace traditional braces. You can have the straight teeth and beautiful smile you have always wanted without the obvious, metal braces of yesteryear. Central Texas Orthodontics in Austin, Texas can give you all the information you need about how this process can improve your bite and your smile.
What is Invisalign?
Invisalign is an innovative process for aligning and straightening teeth which uses transparent, plastic aligners instead of traditional wire braces. Almost anyone who could benefit from braces is eligible to use this technology. Like traditional braces, the aligners apply pressure to the teeth to gently move the teeth into more aligned positions for a better bite and a more beautiful smile.
The Invisalign appliances are made of clear plastic, so they are not visible when you are wearing them. They are easy to put on and take off by yourself. You remove them to eat, to clean, and to brush and floss your teeth.
How Did This Technology Develop?
In 1997, Zia Chisthti, who was finishing up traditional braces treatment to straighten his teeth, was inspired by the retainer that he was prescribed to help his teeth hold their new alignment. He wondered if teeth could be moved by a series of devices like the retainer that could be constructed to shift the teeth in tiny, gradual increments.
By 1998, Chisthti and his partners had created a product that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The product was a hit with consumers, and by 2001, over 8000 US dentists had been trained in the system.
By 2004, about 175,000 patients had used the award-winning Invisalign system. And in 2005, certification in its use became required by the Harvard School of Dental Medicine graduate school. Over the years, the company has continued its research and development. It continues to improve the materials and technology and to create treatment protocols for more complex orthodontic problems.
Who Qualifies for Invisalign Treatment?
While the process was originally created for adult patients, now almost any candidate for braces is qualified for the clear-aligner treatment. Most common orthodontic issues can be corrected with this gradual approach.
People Who Can Care for Their Device
Keep in mind that the treatment process is different from that of traditional braces. You will be responsible for wearing your device for 20-22 hours each day. You will be in charge of keeping track of the device if, for example, you remove it to eat in a restaurant. Also, you will still be caring normally for your teeth. You’ll remove the device to brush and floss, and you will need to clean the appliance regularly too.
People with Crowded Teeth
If your jaw seems too small to accommodate all your teeth, and your teeth are all bunched up, clear aligners can help reposition your teeth so that they are straighter. Crowded teeth can affect your confidence when you smile, but they are also more difficult to clean. It’s hard for a toothbrush to reach the spaces between teeth to clean them. And flossing can also be difficult in a crowded mouth. If you cannot clean your teeth well, you are risking a build-up of plaque and possible tooth decay and gum disease.
Those with an Overbite
An overbite or deep bite is when your upper teeth close far out in front of your lower teeth. It is normal to have some degree of an overbite, but an extreme case can result in jaw pain or even unnatural wearing down of your teeth. An overbite can also affect your confidence, but it can be remedied with the clear-aligner process.
Those with an Underbite
Less common than overbite, an underbite is when your bottom teeth close in front of your top teeth. An underbite can affect your speech and make it more difficult to chew food. It also can cause unnatural wear on all of your teeth. An under-bite can be a result of the lower jaw being misplaced. But if your under-bite is repairable with traditional braces, it can also be repaired by Invisalign.
People with Crossbite
Crossbite describes a condition where some upper teeth rest inside the lower teeth when you close your mouth. Other upper teeth are positioned normally and rest outside the lower teeth. Crossbite can cause the teeth to wear down or even chip. It can result in your gums receding, which can lead to bone loss or other painful gum conditions. Many crossbite conditions can be fixed with clear-alignment technology.
Those with Gap Teeth
Do you have gaps between any of your teeth? Gaps are spaces in the mouth where food can get stuck which can lead to tooth decay or gum disease. The gums are often sensitive and painful in gap areas as well. Invisalign can close those gaps and give you a perfect smile.
People with an Open Bite
An open bite is a condition in which the front teeth don’t meet when you close your jaw. This can make it difficult to bite into some foods and difficult to chew your food effectively. It can also reduce your confidence in your smile. The clear-alignment procedure can close the open bite and ensure that your teeth meet as they should.
Those who Need Generally Straighter Teeth
If you don’t have a specific orthodontic problem, but you’d just like your teeth to be straighter, Invisalign is the perfect solution. For minor adjustments, the treatment can work twice as fast as traditional braces. When you’re ready to love your smile, consider this effective, comfortable orthodontic option.
Teens and Tweens
The young teenage years are the typical time to begin orthodontic treatment. Invisalign is often the perfect alternative to traditional metal braces. Because the appliance is transparent, your teen will find that no one notices that he or she is wearing braces. And, with the clear-alignment process, you won’t have to worry about your son or daughter eating foods that could present a problem, as was the case with traditional braces.
With current technology, the clear-alignment process can even address serious yet common teenage orthodontic issues like correcting jaw placement, or mandibular advancement.
For parents, your dentist can mark your teen’s trays with a telltale blue mark that will let you know that your child is wearing the appliance the recommended number of hours each day.
Invisalign has developed treatment plans that can address dental problems before they begin. Phase 1 treatment is for children 6 to 10 years old and is designed to support proper growth and alignment in a young child’s growing mouth. The appliance can ensure a correct arch and jaw placement and make sure there is adequate room for the incoming permanent teeth.
Early treatment can correct any pre-existing bite or alignment issues and keep them from getting worse. It can also help with poor habits like thumb sucking or tongue thrusting. Early treatment will make any further Phase 2 treatment faster and easier.
How Does it Work?
Your Invisalign journey will begin with a consultation with your dentist or orthodontist. This is the time to get answers to all your specific questions. You’ll want to be sure to ask about how long the treatment will last, how much it will cost, and address any particular concerns you have about your teeth or the process of treatment.
Your dentist will create a model of your mouth that shows the current placement of your teeth. In the past, your dentist made the model by filling your mouth with a fast-drying gel. You bit down on the mouthful of gel and as soon as it hardened, the dentist would remove it.
These days, we have more advanced technology and the model can be created with a digital scan. The scanner takes over 6000 images per second, creating a detailed 3-D image of your mouth. Your Invisalign appliances are made from the scanned image.
Your clear-align device is custom made to fit your mouth and to apply gradual pressure to exact points on your teeth as you wear it. Your teeth will be shifted into proper alignment bit by bit. You may use an upper teeth device, a lower jaw device or both.
You will graduate into a new appliance every week or two. The dentist will supply you with two to four trays at each visit. They will be clearly marked so you know which to use first, second, and so on.
At your dental visits, every four to six weeks, you will be able to see your progress on the scanner throughout the treatment.
More You Need to Know
The clear-align appliances are made from non-BPA plastic. They are created with a 3-D printer from the scanned image of your mouth.
Sometimes the treatment requires special attachments that are glued to one or two teeth. These help direct the pressure in exactly the correct direction for your perfect alignment. The dentist will remove them when treatment is completed.
For some patients, the dentist will provide an implement like a densely packed cotton swab to bite on. This helps ensure that the device is firmly set on the teeth.
Wearing Your Aligners
Your dentist will place the devices on your teeth and then ask you to practice taking them off and replacing them. The material is flexible and is easy to remove and replace. When you first use a new appliance, it might feel tight. This is normal and indicates that the pressure is working to shift your teeth. It may feel sore for a day or two. You can take over-the-counter pain medication if necessary.
For best results, you will need to wear your device 20 to 22 hours each day. You will remove them to eat, so you don’t have to worry about eating foods like popcorn that may be prohibited with traditional braces. You will wear them to sleep each night.
After the main treatment, you may also be prescribed a retainer. The retainer is made of the same material as the aligners and will keep gentle pressure on your teeth until the desired shift is complete.
Clear-aligner treatments cost about the same as traditional braces. Your dental insurance may be able to pay for part of the cost.
Cleaning Your Teeth and Your Device
You will remove the aligner when you eat and you should take it out to brush and floss your teeth as you usually do. To clean the aligner, brush it with a soft brush. Do not use toothpaste as toothpaste may discolor it. If you want to use more than water to brush your device, use a denture cleaner or a non-alcohol based mouthwash. Then simply re-insert your aligner.
We are eager to help you achieve the smile you want. Call to book your consultation with Central Texas Orthodontics in Austin, Texas, and let us share what Invisalign may do for you.