Invisalign® is an orthodontic system that uses special trays or aligners that fit closely over the teeth and move teeth into ideal alignment over time. Aligners are made of clear, smooth plastic so they’re virtually invisible while they’re being worn. The aligners are custom made for each patient and are worn in a specific sequence to keep teeth moving toward alignment. Between 18 and 30 aligners are used during an average treatment with Invisalign®. Each aligner is worn for about two weeks and then “swapped” with the next aligner in the sequence. Treatment can usually be completed in about 18 months or less.
Once a patient has been identified as a good candidate for Invisalign®, treatment begins with impressions of the teeth. These molds are sent to the lab where the aligners are made. The impressions are scanned into a computer that uses special software to create three-dimensional virtual models of the teeth that show how they need to move over time to become aligned and straight. Then those models are used to create the actual series of aligners using durable, clear plastic. During treatment, the patient will visit the office every six weeks or so to ensure their treatment is progressing smoothly.
Many patients prefer Invisalign® because their clear plastic design makes them nearly impossible to detect while they’re in place. The aligners are also smooth, so there are no sharp metal parts to irritate the linings of the cheeks. Plus, they can be removed when brushing and flossing so it’s easier to care for teeth, and they can also be removed when eating, which means there are no dietary restrictions.
The Invisalign® system can be a great choice for many teen and adult patients who want to enjoy straighter teeth and more attractive smiles, but not everyone is a suitable candidate. Some issues require wire-and-bracket-style braces to correct. Once the evaluation is complete, we’ll be able to tell if Invisalign® is an ideal option or if another approach might be a better choice.