What is Invisalign®
The Invisalign® teeth straightening system offers a series of clear aligners that are worn in a sequential manner a week at a time. The sequential aligners gradually move the teeth in place until the desired result is achieved. The aligners must be worn for 22 hours a day and are removed during eating and drinking anything other than water. The total duration of treatment varies from case to case and can be a few weeks to months depending on the number of aligners needed and on the complexity of the case.
To help the teeth move the right way, tooth coloured resin tags or attachments are placed on the teeth as necessary. These engage with the aligners and help move the teeth in the right direction. Being tooth-coloured, they are also barely noticeable and are polished off once the Invisalign® treatment has been completed.
In cases where there the teeth are crowded, space has to be created in order to align the teeth adequately. This can be achieved by shaving off the sides of some teeth slightly. The maximum amount that is polished is 0.5mm and does not lead to a noticeable difference in the appearance of the tooth. This process is known as InterProximal Reduction (IPR).
Can Invisalign® be used at any age?
Orthodontic treatment to straighten an uneven smile is possible at any age. For adults who have missed out on orthodontic treatment as a child, or those who had braces but saw their teeth move over time, treatment is still available if they wish to correct their smile again.
What are the advantages of Invisalign®?
Invisalign® offers a good option for those who do not want to wear standard braces which are conspicuously visible. They are a series of clear aligners each worn for 1 week. The number of aligners varies with each case. Since the aligners are clear, they are not noticeable during wear. The resin tags applied to teeth, when necessary, are also tooth coloured and not noticeable.
The Invisalign® process offers a gradual method of aligning teeth and modifications can be carried out along the way to ensure the desired results.
How do you make sure your teeth stay aligned once Invisalign® treatment has been completed?
After the teeth have been aligned optimally, it is necessary to keep them aligned over the long-term by a process called retention. This makes use of retainers which are either fixed or removable. A fixed retainer is a metal wire bonded to the back of the front teeth to keep them in their aligned position. A removable retainer is made of clear plastic and is worn over the teeth to keep them in place. It is advisable to wear the removable retainers day and night during the first week after completion of the Invisalign treatment and nightly afterwards.
Failure to use retainers properly can lead to the teeth moving back to their original position (relapse).
What are the disadvantages of Invisalign®?
Because of the clear aligners being worn during the day, some patients might find that their speech is affected slightly over the first few days of wear as the tongue and lips get used to the additional aligner thickness. This can involve some slight lisping. However, in the majority of cases, the lisping disappears as the patient adapts to aligner wear.
Teeth can become slightly discolored due to the presence of the resin tags. However, good oral hygiene can minimise this issue. Good oral hygiene is also critical to prevent decay and gum disease risks.
If oral hygiene is poor, food debris and plaque can stay trapped under the aligners instead of being washed away by normal salivary flow. This can lead to increased risk of decay and gum disease. It is thus critical that teeth are cleaned thoroughly after meals before placing the aligners back on.
There can be some slight discomfort during the first few days of wearing each aligner as the aligners apply pressure to the teeth in order to move them in place. However, this mild discomfort will be experienced in all types of orthodontic treatment irrespective of the system being used. Since the pressures applied are mild and gradual, there is usually no long-term negative impact on the teeth and surrounding tissues.
It is also critical that the aligners are worn for the requisite number of hours to obtain optimal tooth movement. Failure to do so can lead to failure of treatment. Since the aligners are removed during eating and brushing/flossing is advised before re-inserting them, some patients might find compliance difficult and fail to wear them for long enough. If compliance is likely to be an issue, it is then preferable to use a different method such as standard orthodontic brackets and wires which are not removable.
Invisalign® at the Melbourne Smile Clinic
Did you know that if you are an existing patient at the Melbourne Smile Clinic, you are eligible for a free Invisalign® consultation. You must ensure that your teeth and gums are healthy first by having attended regularly for active maintenance prior.
The Invisalign® consultation involves taking photos and impressions of your teeth so we can analyse them and determine the best course of treatment. This analysis is called a ClinCheck® and generates models of your teeth before and after Invisalign® treatment. The number of aligners, attachments and IPR are also generated through the ClinCheck® analysis. Until then, there is no commitment needed on your part. Once your ClinCheck® has been discussed with you, you can then decide whether to undertake the Invisalign treatment or not.
For more information, or to book an appointment for an Invisalign® consultation, do not hesitate to contact us.
Find out more about getting a complimentary Invisalign® consultation here