When choosing the right orthodontic treatment plan for your needs, we know there are many factors to consider. If Invisalign is an option for you, here are the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions about Invisalign.
What is Invisalign?
Invisalign is a series of clear dental trays molded to your teeth that are changed out for new ones about every two weeks. Invisalign is a brand of clear aligners that has become a household name for clear aligners, much in the same way that Kleenex has become synonymous with tissues. The trays must be worn for 22 hours per day, and must be removed for eating. Invisalign treatment plans will also often include additional attachments to the trays that are designed to help specific teeth move where they need to be. These attachments are slightly more visible and look like clear braces when you are wearing your trays.
Why should I get Invisalign?
Invisalign may be the right choice if you only have minor issues to fix, such as crowded teeth, gapped teeth, and minor overbite, underbite, or open bite. Invisalign can move your teeth horizontally, but not vertically, which is something to take into consideration depending on your specific smile situation. Your orthodontist will be able to tell you if Invisalign has the capability of helping you achieve your ideal smile.
Invisalign can also be the right choice for you if you are frequently involved in contact sports, as it offers more protection for your teeth in these situations than traditional braces do. If you are concerned about the visibility of braces, Invisalign may be a less conspicuous option.
There are variations of Invisalign treatments that are available based on the need of the client, including express options and a teen program option with additional resources and tools to keep users on track. Your orthodontist will be able to discuss these options with you if they are applicable.
Why might Invisalign be the wrong choice for me?
Invisalign cannot address as many issues as traditional braces can. For example, Invisalign trays can’t move teeth vertically, so if that is an issue that needs to be addressed in your teeth then Invisalign may not be right for you. Your orthodontist will know if your situation is too severe to be corrected with Invisalign, or if your specific needs cannot be met by Invisalign.
Another aspect to consider is the frequency of office visits you are able to commit to. Your Invisalign trays need to be changed trays every 2 weeks, instead of traditional braces which need adjustments every 4-6 weeks. Sometimes orthodontists are able to give patients multiple trays at a time, but if they are not able to then Invisalign may require more frequent visits. This is something you will want to ask your orthodontist about because factors like insurance and your specific orthodontic needs come into play here.
The biggest issue users experience with Invisalign is also the greatest advantage. Invisalign trays are removable, but they need to be worn for 22 hours a day everyday. If the patient is not able to stick to this commitment due to scheduling or forgetfulness, then traditional braces may be a better option.
How long does Invisalign treatment take?
Just like traditional braces, treatment plans vary in length depending on your own teeth (and how diligent you are about keeping your trays in!). For Invisalign, typical treatment length is about 40 weeks for the initial treatment phase. After that, most patients wear maintenance trays (similar to wearing retainers after traditional braces), at least while they sleep, to prevent their teeth from moving back to their original places.
What is Invisalign Express?
Invisalign Express is a faster version of the standard 40-week treatment plan. Invisalign Express makes use of ten or fewer straighteners compared to the 22 or so used in traditional Invisalign. Express treatment can last six months compared to 1-2 years, and is used to correct minor alignment issues and requires strict adherence to the 22 hours per day rule to obtain the faster results. Invisalign Express can be more uncomfortable as the teeth are moved fast, and it cannot address as many issues as standard Invisalign can. Talk to your orthodontist if Invisalign Express is an option you would like to consider.
What is Invisalign made out of?
Invisalign trays are made out of BPA-free plastic. BPA is sometimes found in dental sealants and composites, but exposure to BPA comes with possible health concerns. For this reason, Invisalign does not contain BPA.
What are some of the potential risks and downsides of Invisalign?
Invisalign can take longer than traditional braces depending on your adherence to the 22 hours per day rule and your own orthodontic needs. Treatment length for traditional braces is also sometimes difficult to predict, but your orthodontist will be able to give you an estimated completion date.
Invisalign trays can also stain very easily. You’ll need to remove them to eat or drink anything besides cold or room temperature water. This can present an inconvenience, as they are very tightly fitted and require some effort to remove. Many users report that they tend to snack less than usual during their treatment, so you’ll want to be extra diligent about getting enough food, protein, and vitamins in your primary meals.
Invisalign users also report that their lipstick often ends up all over their clear trays! If you’re a lipstick lover, you’ll want to test your favorites around the house with your trays in to see if this happens to you. A lip balm or lightly tinted gloss may be a better option during your Invisalign treatment.
How should I properly clean and maintain my Invisalign system?
You’ll need to brush your teeth thoroughly after every meal, because putting your trays back in while there is still food in your teeth can both stain your Invisalign trays and damage your teeth. This will mean bringing a toothbrush, toothpaste, and tray case everywhere you go where eating is a possibility. You’ll also want to rinse your trays every time you remove them, and soak them in retainer or denture cleanser on a regular basis.
Will Invisalign still work for me if I have veneers, crowns, or bridgework?
It depends on the extent of these issues. You’ll want to talk with your orthodontist about the dental work you have gone through so that they can evaluate your individual needs. In general, because Invisalign is designed to move each tooth individually, bridgework (which connects two or more teeth) may hinder Invisalign’s ability to move your teeth.
Will I still need to use a retainer after Invisalign treatment?
Most orthodontists recommend that their patients wear retainers after any orthodontic treatment in order to prevent teeth from shifting once they are set in place. This often just means wearing retainers at night while you sleep, but consult with your orthodontist about what post-treatment practices will be best for your specific situation.
If you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask your orthodontist! Does it sound like Invisalign may be the right treatment plan for you? Schedule a consultation with us today!