Although crooked teeth have historically required dental braces for correction, over the past 20 years, Invisalign has become an increasingly popular and common alternate treatment option. Unlike traditional braces, which require gluing individual metal brackets to your teeth and periodically adjusting an archwire and replacing elastic bands over a period of time (typically two years), Invisalign straightens teeth using a series of customized trays that are designed to gradually move teeth to a straighter position.
One of the most appealing aspects of Invisalign is that it is practically invisible, unlike braces which are very noticeable. Another important differences is that Invisalign trays are removable, unlike retainers. While it can be nice to have the option of removing your aligners for certain situations, this also increases your risk of not adhering to the treatment as closely as you should, which can impact the overall success of the treatment. Removing your trays for every meal and having to brush following each meal before putting the trays back in to avoid staining can also be an inconvenience, so much so that some people prefer the simplicity of braces.
If you are a good candidate for Invisalign and decide to pursue this treatment option, the Invisalign process will begin with a digital scan to map out the movements of your teeth throughout treatment. These 3-D images will also be used to create your customized aligners. Once the aligners are made, you will begin wearing each tray for two weeks at a time. Each tray will incrementally move your teeth about .10-.25 mm per tray. Once you reach the end of two weeks, you will pop your current set of trays out and replace them with a new set. This process is repeated until your teeth have reached their optimal position. Treatment time will vary depending on the severity of your case but can typically be completed within 12 months for simpler cases, and up to or beyond 24 months for more complicated cases.
How Do I Know if Invisalign is Right for Me?
The best way to determine if Invisalign is right for you is to schedule an appointment with your dentist or periodontist. During this evaluation, they will assess your teeth to determine if you are a viable candidate. Although Invisalign is often a viable treatment option, there are cases when Invisalign will not be suitable for your needs. For example, if you have teeth that need to be rotated, moved vertically, or back teeth that require correction, it is likely that you will not be a viable candidate for Invisalign and will need to have traditional dental braces instead. On the other hand, people who play high impact sports or who are concerned about feeling self-conscious while wearing braces are likely better candidates for Invisalign.
Regardless of which method you use, straightening your teeth is a gradual process that takes time and commitment to complete. As such, it is incredibly important to select a treatment option that has the highest likelihood of providing you with the results you want.
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