Invisalign

If you are considering Invisalign braces in Salt Lake City, here is some information that will help you more fully understand how Invisalign works, and what the advantages and disadvantages are. Hundreds of thousands of successful Invisalign treatments have been performed. It’s a good option and a serious alternative to traditional metal braces.

Below is an explanation of the advantages and disadvantages of Invisalign orthodontia. If you have other questions you need answered or if you are interested in a free initial consultation, you may contact Dr. David Duke of Dental Designs of Salt Lake City, Utah at 801-355-2202.

Invisalign Advantages

The most obvious advantage of the treatment is cosmetic: the Invisalign aligners are completely transparent, which makes them far more difficult to detect than traditional wire and bracket braces. This makes the method particularly popular among adults who want to straighten their teeth without the look of traditional metal braces, which are commonly worn by children and adolescents. In addition, the aligners are marketed as being more comfortable than braces. Due to the removable nature of the device, food can be consumed without the encumbrance of metallic braces.

Clinically, aligners avoid many of the side effects of traditional fixed appliances; for example, the effects on the gums and supporting tissues. Almost all types of orthodontic treatment will cause the roots of teeth to shorten for most patients, and demineralization or tooth decay occurs in up to 50% of patients because they cannot be removed for eating and cleaning, and because they prevent accurate x-rays from being taken.

With Invisalign, patients “graduate” to a new set of aligners in their treatment series approximately every two weeks. The aligners give less force per week and less pain than do fixed appliances (traditional metal braces). Fixed appliances are adjusted approximately every six weeks and apply greater forces.

Aligners should be removed to eat, drink, to clean the teeth, or to have them checked by the clinician. Because you remove the aligners, you are not limited to what you eat, which is not the case with traditional metal braces. Computerized treatment planning is necessary as part of the Invisalign protocol. As with other forms of orthodontic treatments that incorporate a computerized plan, this allows the prospective patient to actually visualize the projected smile design. The patient will also learn how long the treatment is likely to take, and they can compare different plans and make a more educated decision about whether or not to use Invisalign.

Invisalign treatments have been claimed to be quicker than traditional orthodontics. A large-scale study of 408 patients with traditional appliances in Indiana took an average of 35.92 months with a maximum of 96 months, while Invisalign took between 12–18 months.

Invisalign Disadvantages

As with all orthodontic treatment options, Invisalign also has potential disadvantages. The very fact that the aligners are removable means they are not continually correcting the teeth. Traditional fixed braces correct constantly; yet Invisalign braces are largely dependent on a patient’s habits and their consistency in wearing the aligners. The success of the Invisalign aligners is based on a patient’s commitment to wear the aligners for a minimum of 20–22 hours per day, and only removing them when they are eating, drinking, or brushing their teeth.

The system is also somewhat expensive, as conceded by the Align Company, and can be more expensive than traditional wire and bracket systems. The aligners must be removed before eating, which might be perceived as an advantage or disadvantage, depending upon the person. The aligners and the teeth should be cleaned before re-inserting them afterwards.

Certain teeth are slightly problematic for Invisalign aligners to rotate. Some lower premolars have a rounded shape, which can make it difficult for the aligners to grasp and apply a rotational force to the tooth. Teeth grinding or clenching during the day or while sleeping can sometimes damage the aligners. In practice, however, this problem is very rare and a new aligner can be ordered. Also, similar to traditional metal braces, aligners may cause a slight lisp at the beginning of treatment, but this usually disappears as the patient becomes used to the treatment.

The aligners are constructed of implantable-grade polyurethane, and the Align company acknowledges that with a few patients there may be cases of allergic and toxic sensitivity reactions to Invisalign. There have also been a few reports of minor symptoms such as sore throat, cough, and nausea.

Treatment

Invisalign treatment begins with a dentist or orthodontist taking dental impressions, x-rays and photographs of the patient’s teeth. These impressions and photographs are sent to Align Technology. The impressions are put through a CT scan and a computer creates a three-dimensional model. Technicians then individualize the teeth in the computer model and move them to their final position as prescribed by the dentist or orthodontist. Custom Align software then simulates the movement of the teeth in stages. The orthodontist reviews the simulation online via a web browser and approves or modifies the treatment. Once approved, a plastic resin aligner is manufactured for each stage of the computer simulation and shipped to the doctor.

Average treatment time is about one year, again depending on the complexity of the treatment. Simple treatments (minor crowding, minor spacing) may be as short as twenty weeks—this is known as the “Invisalign Express” program. Although the aligners are removable, they must be worn at least 20 to 22 hours per day to avoid delaying the treatment process. If they are not worn consistently, treatment time will increase.

After the regular aligner or braces treatment is complete, retainers composed of a similar plastic material are usually required to be worn, at least at night.

The final position of the teeth is not completely determined by the last aligner. If the patient wants to change the end position because the actual position is not optimal, new aligners are ordered, which are usually included in the originally quoted cost, called a ‘Refinement.’

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