Getting Invisalign Braces: How It Works
Invisalign braces, at the most basic level, work much like regular metal braces, in that they fit over the teeth and correct the teeth’s alignment over time. However, Invisalign braces are very different from standard braces in that they use a series of aligners, made of see through clear plastic, that are custom-made for each patient. These aligners then gradually shift the teeth into proper alignment over time. The aligners are then modified over time as well, to continue the process in a method that is precisely designed by your dentist, and customized for your needs. Whether or not you choose to have Invisalign treatment abroad comes down to whether or not you’re worried about follow up treatment should anything go wrong and also whether or not the foreign orthodontist offers a guarantee with the treatment. You pays your money and takes your choice, although the money can be significantly less abroad!
What is Invisalign?
Invisalign braces are a great alternative to traditional braces, and they let you achieve a good looking smile without the discomfort and self-consciousness that often comes with metal braces. Created by Align Technology, located in San Jose California, Invisalign braces were first approved by the FDA in 1998.
Invisalign braces are a series of clear plastic retainers, called ‘aligners’, that fit over your teeth and gradually align them using a series of aligners that are created to move the teeth gradually into place. Invisalign braces are designed to be more comfortable, convenient, and efficient that traditional metal braces, with less maintenance and hassle that their traditional counterparts.
Today, Invisalign braces are available from most dentists and orthodontists in North America, and has achieved general acceptance in the dental workplace, with over two millions patients having received the Invisalign treatment.
Advantages to Invisalign
- Low visibility – Invisalign braces are made of clear plastic, so they’re not so obvious, and they don’t call as much attention to themselves.
- Comfort – Invisalign braces are typically significantly more comfortable than traditional braces, because they’re made from smooth, softer plastic, as opposed to metal braces.
- Convenience – The aligners are designed to be removable, so that you can take them out temporarily to brush and floss your teeth. You can also eat whatever kind of food that you like, as the aligners are not damaged by a kind of food.
- Less maintenance – Invisalign braces don’t require as much adjustment by your dentist, with office visits typically taking place only every 4 – 6 weeks.
The Invisalign Process
Invisalign braces are fitted and modified over time using a more or less standardized approach, which allows the braces to be fitted and then modified and replaced over time. Basically, the way the process works is:
- Meeting with Dentist – Once you select a dentist that performs Invisalign procedures, you’ll meet with that dentist to discuss the process and timelines. If your existing dentist doesn’t provide Invisalign braces, you might need to look for one that does. In that case, ask your dentist if there is another provide who does this kind of procedure, and if they have any recommendations. And if you don’t have a regular dentist, make sure you visit with a few different doctors, to find one that you’re most comfortable with. Remember, this process will take a while, and will involve multiple visits, so make sure you’re comfortable with your chosen dentist, because you’ll be working with them for a while.
Your chosen dentist will then need to sit down with you for a consultation, to see if you’re a good candidate for Invisalign. In most cases, Invisalign will work for most patients. However, there are some cases where Invisalign isn’t the best option.
Another thing to check on is to make sure that your insurance will cover both Invisalign braces and the dentist with whom you’ll be working. Most insurance providers will cover Invisalign, but you should call your carrier to make sure. Likewise, make sure that the dentist you’ve chosen is covered or in-network by your dental health insurance provider.
- 3-D Modeling – Once you’ve chosen your dentist, and you’re ‘cleared’ for Invisalign braces, your dentist will need to create a detailed picture of your teeth, to get the right fit for the braces. This involves everything from x-ray’s to impressions of your teeth, which are then used by Invisalign to create a complete 3-D model of your mouth and teeth, and give your dentist a clear idea of what needs to happen, and what the braces need to look like. Your dentist will then be able to estimate how long the procedure will take, and how much your teeth are going to need to move, to bring them into alignment.
- Aligner Fitting – Once all of the imaging and design has been complete, a custom-made set of aligners is created, that will fit your mouth specifically, to get your teeth into alignment. As mentioned above, these aligners are clear plastic, and are made to be comfortable, and fit smoothly over your teeth. You then wear them through the day, taking them out only to brush your teeth and floss. Over time, the aligners will adjust your teeth to the proper alignment, slowly moving them into place.
- Ongoing Adjustments – Every two weeks or so, you’ll put in a new set of aligners, as your teeth shift into alignment. Each of these aligners are slightly different from the previous pair, as they continually re-align your teeth to the proper placement. You’ll also need to keep working with your dentist, meeting with her every month and a half or so, to make sure that the aligners are working properly and your teeth are progressing. During this time, you’ll need to keep the aligners in place pretty much all the time, at least 20 to 22 hours per day.
- Completion – And that’s it! After a length of time comparable to standard braces, you’ll remove your aligners, and your smile should be significantly different that it was, because your teeth are now in alignment. Congratulations!
You should talk to your dentist about whether or not Invisalign braces are right for you. But, if they’re right for you, they can be great way to get your teeth in shape and give you a great smile for life.