If you feel the need to straighten your teeth, or if you’re the parent of a child whose teeth you want to straighten, you’ve probably heard about Invisalign, and you probably have a lot of questions about this alternative to metal braces. You probably want to know how much it’s going to cost and how long it takes to work—but your top question has to be, “does it work?” After all, with all the advantages Invisalign offers, it’s understandable that you’d wonder if this treatment is effective.
How are Traditional Braces and Invisalign Different?
Although both traditional braces and Invisalign were each designed to straighten teeth and improve your smile and appearance, they work in different ways. Braces consist of either metal or clear brackets that are glued to your teeth. The individual brackets are tied together by wires and rubber bands. They can be embarrassing to wear, especially for children, because of the way they change your appearance (although it’s now possible to get braces which more closely match the color of your teeth).
Unlike traditional braces, Invisalign was designed to be invisible, a significant advantage for patients for whom their appearance during the time of treatment is important. Instead of metal brackets, wires and rubber bands, Invisalign uses invisible aligner trays composed of smooth (and comfortable) plastic. The aligner trays are designed to precisely match each patient’s dental needs through the use of X-rays, pictures and impressions—this ensures that they fit properly, and that they work.
How Long Does It Take for Invisalign to Work?
The length of your Invisalign treatment varies depending on your individual needs. For some patients, treatment takes as little as 6 months. For others, it can last as long as 18 months. Treatment with traditional braces, on the other hand, generally takes 2 years. In addition, whereas braces must be worn 24/7, Invisalign can be removed when you eat, drink and brush your teeth and re-inserted.
How Difficult Is Invisalign to Maintain?
Maintenance is one of the chief advantages of Invisalign, partly because it’s removable. When you remove the aligners, you can brush and floss your teeth as you normally would. You can then clean your aligner trays according to manufacturer and orthodontist directions.
Because traditional metal braces can’t be removed, food particles often become caught under or between brackets, making cleaning a challenge. To clean your teeth when wearing braces, you must be vigilant about brushing and flossing between each bracket to avoid tooth decay. Also, there is a greater chance of contracting gum disease from missing the gum line during brushing, since the brackets make it more difficult to angle the toothbrush appropriately.
What About Follow-up Visits?
You’ll need to change your aligner trays about every 2 weeks, but many dentists now provide up to 3 aligner trays per visit, which means you’ll probably need follow-up visits every 6 weeks. With traditional braces, you can expect a follow-up visit approximately once a month.
What Are the Principal Benefits of Invisalign?
Although Invisalign might not be appropriate for patients with very complex dental issues, for most patients, it offers some clear benefits. Aligner trays are invisible and removable. In addition, Invisalign users don’t have issues with food getting caught in their teeth, they experience no tenderness from wired brackets that make it difficult to eat favorite foods, and don’t have the discomfort associated with monthly tightening of metal brackets and wires.
Only you, in consultation with your orthodontist, can decide what treatment is the appropriate choice to straighten your teeth and give you the smile you want. Invisalign offers some clear advantages that make it the best option for an increasing number of dental patients.
Hamer & Glassick Orthodontics takes pride in helping our patients make informed decisions for their orthodontic treatment. Schedule a complimentary consultation to learn more about what Invisalign can do for you!