Invisalign has certainly grown in popularity since its first appearance as an alternative to traditional braces. As always, however, with the popularity of a product comes inaccuracies or misperceptions. If you are considering going for the Invisalign treatment, here are ten (true) things you should know about these “invisible braces.”
One of the most appealing features of Invisalign braces (called aligners) is that they are removable. While traditional wire-and-bracket type braces are uncomfortable and must be handled carefully, the aligners can be removed during mealtimes and during cleaning. The convenience here is that you don’t have to be careful about what you’re eating or take any particularly special steps to clean them; you just eat, brush and floss as normal with the aligners out, then pop them back in when you’re done. They need to be worn for at least 22 hours or more per day.
You may need to start leaving the house with a travel toothbrush in tow. Proper oral hygiene is still required while undergoing the Invisalign procedure. To reduce the future risk of infections or decay before the treatment is complete, you will need to brush after every meal and floss thoroughly. It is important that food debris is removed from crevices in the teeth and especially in the areas where there is contact between teeth and aligners.
Invisalign may seem more “high-tech” than traditional braces, but it’s important to remember that it also has its limitations. The aligners might look and feel better, but getting straight teeth still takes time (though the average time of completion for the Invisalign procedure is generally shorter than with traditional braces). Additionally, you’ll still need to wear some type of retainer or “finishing aligners” to keep your teeth in their new position.
A majority of people who undergo the initial treatment report that they experience only mild pain, while about one-third did not experience any discomfort. Generally, any discomfort experienced was only when switching to a new set of aligners, and this lasted about two to three days. You should get used to this feeling though, as your teeth begin to shift and conform.
Invisalign can treat orthodontic problems such as crowded teeth, overbites/underbites, and gaps. Generally, it is not effective to treat complex orthodontic cases such as severe overbites or severely rotated teeth, so it’s usually recommended for mild to moderate cases of malocclusions. You will need to consult with an Invisalign dentist to determine your suitability for the treatment.
Since the point of Invisalign is that they are nearly invisible, you won’t want to stain your aligners. If you want to indulge in drinks such as red wine or coffee, you’ll have to remove the aligners, which could cut into your “free” time of not wearing the aligners. If you do happen to have just a taste of any of these drinks, be sure to brush your teeth or at least rinse out your mouth thoroughly before putting the aligners back on.
Wearing the aligners while brushing with toothpaste could cause a bacteria build-up and leave a bad smell. They should be cleaned with soap or mild detergent. Failing to clean them regularly will result in a yellowish and murky appearance.
Because the routine of wearing the aligners is restricting as to when you can freely eat, and you might not want to take out your aligners just for a small snack, you’ll probably limit yourself from eating in between meals. This cut in the intake of unnecessary calories could have an effect on the scale during the course of the treatment.
Of course, Invisalign is not completely invisible, but it is hard to detect, even when someone is looking directly at you. This effect is certainly more desirable than being noticed (or remembered) for having a mouth full of metal wires.
Just as with general dentists and doctors, the experience and skill level of Invisalign dentists will vary. Be sure to do your homework and ask around before deciding on one to ensure the success of the treatment.