What is Invisalign®?
Invisalign® is a method of straightening teeth that does not require metal brackets or wires. It consists of a series of removable clear plastic aligners (or trays) that are custom made for each individual’s teeth. When a patient decides to straighten their teeth with Invisalign®, Dr. McConnell or Dr. Nguyen creates a personalized treatment plan for his or her orthodontic needs. This unique plan is communicated to the AlignTech® laboratory, where each aligner is fabricated via CAD/CAM technology. The aligners are virtually invisible, and it is one of the most esthetic ways to straighten your teeth.
Aside from the obvious cosmetic advantages, Invisalign® provides the patient with the ability to clean the teeth much more easily than in traditional braces. Because the aligners are removable, they are quickly and easily removed for a normal, good oral hygiene routine that includes mouthwash, brushing and flossing. With traditional braces, adjunctive products such as special flossers, interdental brushes or picks or Waterpik tools are often needed to keep the teeth free of food debris and bacterial plaque. The Invisalign® aligners make perfect custom whitening trays, so you can whiten your teeth while you straighten them. Another great advantage is that the aligners can also be removed for special occasions like weddings, photo sessions, speeches, etc…
What are the disadvantages of using Invisalign® to straighten teeth?
Like the advantages, the disadvantages also stem from the fact that the aligners are removable. Unlike braces and wires, which cannot be removed by the patient, Invisalign® aligners can be taken out at any time. This means that the success of treatment depends on patient compliance. If the aligners are not worn for at least 22 hours per day, the teeth will not move as prescribed by your dentist. There are times when the orthodontic movement of teeth can cause discomfort or tooth pain. This makes it very tempting to remove the aligners for relief from the pressure being put on the teeth. There are many people who do not achieve a successful result with their Invisalign® treatment because they do not wear the aligners as prescribed.
How does it work?
Through the use of its patented design, Invisalign® aligners move your teeth through the appropriate placement of controlled force. To put it simply, Invisalign® moves teeth by pushing them into the desired position. Invisalign® not only controls the amount and direction of force, but also the timing of the force application. This means that your dentist can prescribe exact movements for each individual tooth, including which teeth not to move, like implants or teeth that are part of a cemented bridge. Certain teeth can be held in place while others are being moved.
There are some limitations to the type of tooth movements Invisalign® can accomplish, and not every patient is a candidate for straightening their teeth with Invisalign®. An orthodontic evaluation of your teeth is necessary to determine if your goals will be met by using Invisalign®.
What is the cost?
For Invisalign® treatment, the cost varies depending on the length of treatment and is similar to the cost of traditional orthodontics. Once Dr. McConnell or Dr. Nguyen have done a thorough orthodontic evaluation, she will estimate the length of treatment and number of aligners required to meet your goals.
Does my dental insurance cover Invisalign®?
Many dental insurance companies do provide coverage for Invisalign®. It is claimed as a benefit for Adult Orthodontics and typically ranges from $1500-2500. To find out if you are covered, you can call your dental insurance company and ask if you have adult orthodontic coverage. Teenagers are often covered under their insurance plan’s orthodontic benefits, up to a certain age limit, which varies depending on your specific insurance plan.
How long will it take to straighten my teeth?
Treatment time varies based on how much movement is required to achieve your goals and how compliant you are with wearing the aligners for at least 22 hours per day. New studies suggest that each aligner may be worn from 7-14 days. This range means that some patients may achieve quicker results than others. Average treatment time for an adult is about 12-18 months.
After treatment has begun, your dentist will typically see you every 6-8 weeks, which means you will wear three sets of aligners between each visit. Sometimes more frequent appointments are required to monitor the progress of the teeth.
What are the eating and drinking restrictions during Invisalign® treatment?
Because aligners can be removed for eating and drinking, there are no restrictions to what you can eat or drink when the aligners are not in your mouth. You can eat with the aligners in, and the chewing force actually contributes to tooth movement. It is important that you do not drink anything besides water with the aligners in. Because the aligners keep your saliva from properly bathing the teeth, any acid or sugar from a beverage could be trapped under the aligners and increase the likelihood of cavities.
There is no better time to straighten your teeth than now! Over time, teeth continue to shift and move, and most problems are aggravated as we age. Spacing between teeth continues to increase so gaps get noticeably larger. Crowding on upper and lower front teeth typically gets worse so teeth appear more and more crooked. Straightening teeth earlier, rather than later, allows for shorter treatment time and more time to enjoy your new, beautiful smile.
Interested in learning more about Invisalign®?
Call our office at 405-943-0123 to set up an Invisalign® consultation with Dr. McConnell or Dr. Nguyen.