According to the Academy of General Dentistry, more than one million adults now wear braces. Today, there are alternatives to traditional metal braces, which can be unattractive and sometimes uncomfortable. Invisalign is an alternative straightening system that uses custom-made aligners made of clear plastic. Because Invisalign treatment may not be right for everyone, the first step is to schedule a dental consultation.

Beginning Steps and Consultation

A dentist needs to determine if a person is a suitable candidate for this treatment. Invisalign can only be used by adults and teens. Because children still have some baby teeth, this treatment is not recommended for them. Now is the time to ask questions about the treatment. It is important to be fully informed before making the final decision. If a person is a good candidate for Invisalign treatment, the dentist takes dental impressions, X-rays, and pictures of the face and teeth and sends these to a lab with Invisalign software. Because all Invisalign treatment planning is completely computerized, patients are well aware of what to expect and how long braces will need to be worn to achieve the desired results.

Invisalign Lab Review

At the lab, the technicians scan the impressions to produce a 3D model in the computer. They then use this model to create trays to move the teeth in a progressive manner to the right positions. This software can be used to predict how the teeth will change once the Invisalign treatments has begun. The completed trays are sent to the recommending dental office. Because all Invisalign treatment planning is completely computerized, patients are well aware of what to expect and how long braces will need to be worn to achieve the desired results.

Custom Invisalign Treatment Plans

Every patient is different with different issues making it difficult to predict how long Invisalign treatment will be needed. The usual time frame is at least six months, but most patients require about one year. The time is determined by the individual plan. The required time also depends on the extent of the correction and how well the patient follows treatment directions. The Invisalign treatments do require a certain level of discipline that metal braces do not. Adhering to the plan results in improved oral hygiene because the Invisalign trays are easily removed for cleaning.

How Invisalign Works

Custom plastic aligners must be replaced every two weeks with a new set. Some patients require special fasteners for holding the aligners in place. These fasteners are bonded to the teeth temporarily to make it easier to clip in the aligner. The doctor will carefully monitor progress and modify treatment as needed. A stringent condition of treatment is that a patient must wear the aligner for at least 20-22 hours every day without exception to achieve positive results.

Initial Treatment Procedure for Teeth Straightening

The patient is instructed to wear a set of invisalign aligners for two weeks at a time before changing to the next one. Each tray is designed to move the teeth about 0.1mm. Because the trays apply pressure directly to the teeth, in two weeks’ time, the teeth will have moved only slightly to match the tray. Every time a tray is changed, there is more pressure thus creating minimal discomfort for a day or two as the teeth adjust to the new tray.

Wearing Requirements and Exceptions

A dental visit is required every six weeks as a major part of the treatment. Three aligner sets are supplied at each of these visits. Aligners must be worn a minimum of 20-22 hours each day, but may be removed while eating or drinking. While most foods are acceptable even apples and popcorn, but hard foods and gum are discouraged. It is a good idea to rinse the mouth after eating or drinking.

Maintenance and Cleaning Requirements

One of the enemies of any orthodontic treatment is tooth decay. With Invisalign, it is extremely important to brush the teeth after each meal and particularly before going to bed. The aligners must be taken out of the mouth and cleaned using a regular toothbrush and then rinsing thoroughly with water. Brush the teeth before putting the aligners back in the mouth. Some doctors recommend using Invisalign cleaner to ensure a clean aligner. There are far less risks to the teeth than with traditional braces.

How to Get the Best Results from Invisalign

A patient must be committed to following the Invisalign treatments to achieve the best results. Compliance is the key to success. It is important to understand and adhere to all the requirements for wearing the aligners and not deviate from them. Seeing the dentist every six weeks is critical while undergoing treatment. This monitoring by the doctor prevents unnecessary problems. Because there is a high risk of developing cavities with any intra-oral appliance, the checkups are critical.

Post Treatment Requirements

This life-changing treatment for misaligned teeth does not end with successful initial treatment. Several important follow-up treatments are required. Most patients who have received successful results from Invisalign treatments will need to wear a retainer. Patients must not skip this important step, if they want to make sure that their teeth retain their straightness after treatments end. Without the aid of a retainer, teeth may regress to the way they were before treatment. This one-step ensures a better long-term outcome.

Facts about Retainers

Immediately following initial Invisalign treatments, a retainer is necessary for most patients. The retainer helps maintain tension needed to hold teeth in place after the Invisalign treatments have corrected them. They do more than just keep the teeth from returning to their previous position. They help prevent teeth grinding, which can cause other issues. It may seem drastic, but once a patient gets a retainer, it must be worn every night for a lifetime to ensure that teeth remain straight and aligned. Replace retainers every nine months to a year because they can wear out. It may seem like a small thing, but wearing a retainer after Invisalign treatments can save problems with shifting teeth.

How to Clean a Retainer

It is important to clean a retainer properly to keep it free from germs and harmful bacteria. It must be cleaner correctly every day to help keep teeth healthy. The retainer can be washed with soapy water and a toothbrush, but never use toothpaste. It takes time to keep it clean a retainer, but prevents major problems over time. Always remove the retainer before eating or drinking to prevent possible staining. It is important to wear the retainer as instructed by the dentist, but it should be worn every night. Failure to do so can result in the teeth returning to their previous state.

Many adults and teenagers have found that Invisalign treatments are perfect for them. They want to fix dental issues without suffering undue discomfort and having to feel self-conscious about wearing noticeable dental appliances. Invisalign offers them the benefit of correcting misalignment or bite issues in an unobtrusive way that will not alter their appearance. This simple, fast, effective treatment is improving smiles and contributing to a heathier appearance for many.


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