We call them “invisible braces”, even if in the end Invisalign doesn’t rely on the regular braces system. There are no wires or ligatures in there, nothing metal, just some clear plastic and some attachments that have the same colour as your teeth have. Invisalign is one of the newest orthodontic treatments that’s got a lot of patients straightening their teeth without others noticing this.
Invisalign works simple: you wear some plastic aligners on your teeth and they do the job. Invisalign doesn’t rely on a fixed system (as the classical braces), but on mobile aligners. You take them out to eat and brush and then place them back.
How does this work?
At first you are given this choice if your orthodontist has a license to use this system and if your case is not that complex. In my case for instance, the teeth were too crooked at first, so I had to wear Damon braces for 7 months (on the lateral teeth, to solve some of the big problems) and afterwards I was able to get Invisalign.
Since I am a 30 year old woman and have also got my own web design firm, you can imagine I wasn’t too pleased to sport a “metal mouth”. The Damon system worked nicely and it didn’t show (since the front teeth weren’t braced) and now Invisalign will finish the job.
Only your orthodontist can know for sure. You can use another system and then Invisalign or just go for the invisible braces, if your doctor advises you to.
In order for your treatment to begin, your doctor will take moulds and these will be sent to Align Technologies. There, these will be used to prepare the treatment in a 3D computerized system and the aligners you’ll wear. Your orthodontist will show you the animation and you’ll be able to accept or decline the treatment. You’ll be able to see your teeth moving till the final step.
Here is a very interesting video I was able to find on youtube: The Invisalign process
After you have accepted the treatment, you’ll receive your first set of aligners. Your doctor will help you put them on your teeth and some attachments might be added. The attachments have the same colour as your teeth and are very discreet. Some orthodontists don’t use attachments, so it depends on your doctor.
You wear a set for 2 weeks. Then another one and another one. All aligners come packed with your name on the bag, the aligner number and the total number of aligners. From this total number you can know how long your orthodontic treatment will be: in my case I have 26 aligners for the upper teeth and 37 for the lower ones (this means 13 months for the upper teeth and 18 months and a half for the others).
You are advised to wear them for 20-22 hours a day. The more you respect this requirement, the better. Take out your Invisalign aligners for eating and oral hygene and then place them back. Some lisp is also possible in the first days, but it does get better.
As a Damon braces patient before I can tell you that Invisalign is a walk in the park compared with the metal braces. I did have some slight pain in the first 2 days, but nothing compared with not being able to eat anything than very soft food for 10 days (as it happened with Damon). Some Invisalign patients consider the treatment to be hard, but I can tell you it’s one of the easiest.
Here are some things to consider:
- you might face problems with taking out the aligners at the first time. You might not be used to this. I find it easier to take the aligners from the laterals (molars) and then from the front teeth. The attachments might prove tricky: I just place my nail under the attachment (take care to not hurt your gums) and lift a bit till the aligner gets “freed” from the attachment. With some experience you’ll be able to take out the aligners fast
- don’t lose them. You have a nice box for the aligners. Try to not misplace them since it would be bad for your treatment. You’d have to wear the old ones and wait for the duplicates. DON’T LOSE THEM!
- you will brush like a maniac. Whenever I eat, I just take out my aligners, eat and then brush and then place back. Never had such clean teeth. Try to also clean the aligners, they’ll smell very bad otherwise.
- you might experience some slight pain. Some people complain about big tooth pains, it all depends on your body in the end. Just take some painkillers if you can’t cope with the pain. It will pass in few days.
- you’ll talk funny for some days. Even if so, you’ll still be able to discuss almost normally, so don’t expect to be too funny. I am a radio DJ and wore my aligners since day one. I did have some slight issues with my diction, but I am getting better.
What are the advantages?
- They are INVISIBLE. All my friends had to take a really good look at my mouth to spot them. If you don’t drink coffe or coke with them on, your aligners will remain clean and invisible for the 2 weeks you are supposed to wear them.
- easy to clean: I just use mouthwash and my toothpaste for them
- they don’t stain (unless you drink something that might do the trick)
- the mouth sores can happen, but we are talking less damage than from metal braces. I recall using dental wax for 3 weeks with the Damon braces, for Invisalign I just had something small, but after 2 days nothing was there.
- you can see how your teeth will look at the end.
- it’s costly. The system is not that cheap, and most of the times your health insurance won’t cover it.
- few doctors who can use it. Just go to Invisalign.com and see the doctors in your area.
- if your case is complex, you might not be able to get Invisalign.
- the treatment can be sometimes longer than in a metal braces case
- you need to be VERY serious with your hygene.