What Are Clear Aligners (Invisalign)

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What are clear aligners (Invisalign)

They are also a common choice for adults who want virtually invisible straightening of teeth and less frequent visits to the orthodontist.   While there are many companies that make clear aligners currently, the most common with most advanced features and longest history is Invisalign.   You are probably thinking, That’s right; Invisalign sounds familiar. Probably you have heard that name more than once.  In essence they provide a series of very thin and almost invisible trays that apply gentle pressure to your teeth to move them in the desired direction.   The system uses computer generated 3D imaging technology to show you a movie from the current position of your teeth to your future beautiful radiant smile.  Clear aligners, Invisalign, is virtually invisible and your friends may not even notice that you are straightening your teeth.  Sure, you can surprise them.   Once your orthodontist has designed your individualized treatment plan and delivered your clear aligners, the process toward the smile of your dreams begins.  Most likely you will have attachments placed on your teeth to act as grabbing handles to move your teeth more predictably in the desired direction.   You can remove the trays to eat your favorite foods and oral hygiene maintenance is easy breezy (brushing and flossing). Occasionally they can be removed for an important social event but this should not become a habit. Clear aligner trays are changed every 2-3 weeks and need to be worn about 22 hours per day to be effective.  There will be no or minimal cheek irritation since they adapt closely to your teeth.   You will stop by your orthodontist’s office to pick up your new trays every 4 to 12 weeks; at that time, he will check that everything is moving as planned.

Naturally, because there’s no ideal orthodontic appliance your orthodontist will guide you at the consultation appointment and determine if you are a good candidate for clear aligners. Since we are all different as people, your treatment time will depend on your individual needs and on the complexity of your case.

What happens at the clear aligners (Invisalign) placement appointment?

Placement of clear aligners is a relaxed and easygoing appointment.  Once the study records have been taken and your clear trays are fabricated, all that is required at your clear aligners placement appointment will be fitting and delivery of the trays.    Does placement of clear aligners hurt?   Placement of clear aligners should be a comfortable experience for your child and you.   Most likely you will have attachments placed to your teeth so that they move your teeth more efficiently.  What are attachments?  Think of them as handles attached to your teeth and the clear aligners grab those handles and move your teeth in the desired position.   The tray delivery process should take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour and a half. At the end of the appointment you will have our orthodontic specialist technician or hygiene specialist go over individual instructions in proper appliance care and cleaning instructions.  Once you receive your clear aligners, the follow-up visits are once every 4 to 12 weeks, depending on your orthodontist’s recommendations.  Also, follow-up appointments are fairly quick. They take anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes.  You can keep your treatment on time by showing up on time for your appointments and following up with wear instructions—wearing appliances 22 hours a day, maintaining teeth cleanliness, and following other instructions recommended by your orthodontist.

Why should I get clear aligners (Invisalign) and not braces?

A pleasant surprise!   If you are someone who wants the get your teeth straight the virtually invisible way, clear aligners may be the perfect solution for you.   I don’t know an adult who had their teeth straightened, got a radiant smile, and few years later regretted getting their teeth straightened.   However, many adults, before they start with their teeth straightening, tell me that they have been looking in the mirror at their teeth for a while and they didn’t like what they were seeing and now this can be changed.  You are not alone; the world around us is focused on aesthetics and it’s better to get straight teeth later than never.  While ceramic and conventional braces are common in straightening teeth, there are instances where clear aligners are the better choice for your individual needs. Again, there is no ideal orthodontic appliance and it’s important that your orthodontist works with different appliances, knows the limitations, and when to appropriately use each appliance.  At the consultation appointment, you can get answers on all your questions and concerns. Ask questions; this is a time for you to make a decision you’re comfortable with.

Here are some examples that would make for a better candidate for clear aligners (Invisalign):

  • Wanting a virtually invisible way to align teeth
  • Wanting the convenience of being able to remove appliances for one to two hours per day
  • Wanting to eat hard foods that you love
  • Wanting longer appointment intervals between follow-up visits
  • Having mild to moderate tooth/teeth problems
  • Able to wear appliances for 22 hours every day

If you have a certain orthodontic solution in mind, before jumping to conclusions know that everybody is different.  The most appropriate thing would be to visit your orthodontist to help you determine which option is right for you.

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