For many years, the primary way that dentists treated malocclusion was with traditional braces. While this was an effective treatment, it took an average of 2 years to complete and was unsightly and uncomfortable. Plus, the brackets were known to cause cuts inside the mouth.
In the late 1990s, Invisalign clear aligners were introduced to the market. This is a system of clear aligners, much like retainers, designed to gradually shift teeth into their appropriate position in the jaw. The aligners are clear, so they are virtually invisible and, since there are no brackets and wires, there is no risk of cutting your tongue, lips, or the inside of your cheeks.
According to the American Association of Orthodontics, Invisalign is designed to be a “less conspicuous” way to resolve a variety of mild to moderate malocclusions including overbite, underbite, gapped teeth, and more.
Many of our patients at Wolf Schwartz Dentistry have chosen to resolve their malocclusions with Invisalign over traditional braces. Here is what you need to know about Invisalign clear aligners.
Invisalign offers a variety of benefits over alternative treatments, including:
Easy to maintain
Traditional braces can be challenging to keep clean. When you eat, food can get stuck in the brackets and between your teeth, which is a hassle. However, Invisalign aligners are designed to be removed when eating. Then, you can brush and floss your teeth as usual before rinsing the aligners and putting them back in. When it comes to cleaning the aligners, simply use a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste. Then rinse with warm water before putting them back in your mouth.
Fewer visits to the office
Traditional braces require patients to visit the office every few weeks to have the wire tightened as teeth shift. However, you will be given your full set of aligners with instructions to change them every 1 to 3 weeks. This allows you to move to the next phase without visiting the office. You will need to come in from time to time so that Dr. Schwartz can monitor your progress.
No food restrictions
There are some foods that can damage traditional braces such as hard/crunchy foods, sticky foods, etc. Invisalign aligners are designed to be taken out when eating, which means you can eat what you want. However, you must make sure to clean your teeth after eating to avoid any food particles damaging the aligners when you put them back in.
This is one of the primary reasons that many of our patients choose Invisalign. They don’t want to be obvious with their treatment. The aligners are virtually invisible, which means that unless you tell someone, they are not likely to know that you are wearing them.
Traditional braces involve brackets and wires. The wires put pressure on the teeth to shift them, which can cause discomfort. As the teeth move, the pressure lessens. Then, when the wire is tightened, it puts pressure on the teeth again. This results in a cycle of discomfort. Plus, the brackets can cause cuts to the inside of your mouth.
Invisalign also puts pressure on the teeth, but the pressure is spread across the entire arch. Since the aligners are removable, it gives your mouth some time to rest. Plus, the aligners are smooth, which means you don’t have to worry about injury to your tongue or the inside of your lips and cheeks.
Resolves a variety of dental issues
Invisalign has been proven effective in resolving a variety of malocclusions, including:
- Open bite
By resolving these issues, the risk of cavities and gum disease is reduced.
How Long Does Invisalign Take?
Invisalign has been shown to resolve mild to moderate malocclusions within 12 to 18 months. Patients with very mild malocclusion often see full resolution within the first 6 months of treatment. On the other hand, patients with severe malocclusion may need up to 24 months. In addition, patients with severe malocclusion often require additional treatment such as extractions, attachments, and more.
Most of our patients begin to notice a change in the position of their teeth within the first 2 weeks of treatment.
Factors Impacting Treatment Time
There are several factors that can impact the treatment timeline, including:
There are several classes and types of malocclusions.
Invisalign clear aligners are designed to be removable. This allows you to practice proper oral hygiene and to eat/drink anything without restriction. However, in order to be effective, the aligners must be worn for at least 20 to 22 hours a day. If you do not wear the aligners as instructed, treatment will take longer.
Number of Aligners
When undergoing Invisalign treatment, the aligners should be changed out every 1 to 3 weeks. Therefore, the more aligners you have, the longer your treatment will take. If you get to the end of your treatment and refinement is needed, more time will be added to your timeline.
There are alternatives to Invisalign treatment:
Traditional braces involves cementing metal brackets to the affected teeth and running an archwire through them. As the teeth shift, the archwire is tightened. This typically takes 12 to 24 months. In some cases, it may take up to 36 months if the malocclusion is severe. On average, the cost of traditional braces ranges from around $1,000 to $8,500. Most dental plans will cover a portion of treatment with traditional braces.
Six Month Smiles
Six Month Smiles is a fairly new alternative for treating malocclusion. There are two options for treatment, clear braces or clear aligners. This option is designed for patients over the age of 16. The average treatment time is 6 months. The cost varies based on your personalized treatment plan and your dental insurance coverage. To find out more, you’ll need to schedule a consultation.
Are You Interested in Invisalign Clear Aligners?
If you are interested in learning more about treating your mild to moderate malocclusion discreetly and in less time than traditional braces, schedule your consultation with Dr. Schwartz and the team at Wolf Schwartz Dentistry.
Most malocclusions can be resolved in 12 to 18 months. Patients with very mild malocclusion may see resolution within 6 months, while more severe cases may require up to 24 months. However, most patients do start seeing a shift within the first 2 weeks of treatment.
If you’re not sure that Invisalign is right for you, there are other options: traditional braces and Six Month Smiles. Let us help you find the right solution for your malocclusion today.
Dr. Schwartz believes that patients need to be actively involved in their treatment. He encourages patients to bring up any questions or concerns they may have. Below are some of the most common questions that he hears:
What conditions can Invisalign treat?
Invisalign has been proven effective in treating mild to moderate malocclusions including:
- Open bite
How often do I need to wear my aligners?
Invisalign clear aligners require compliance for maximum effectiveness. You should wear your aligners every day for at least 20 to 22 hours a day. If you do not wear them as recommended, treatment may take longer than expected.
Can I eat and drink while wearing my aligners?
Invisalign clear aligners are removable and should be removed when eating and drinking to avoid causing damage to them.
How often do I need to visit the dentist while using Invisalign?
While you do not need to visit the dentist as often with Invisalign, you will need to come in from time to time so that we can monitor your progress. The frequency of your visits will be outlined in your personalized treatment plan.
Are there any side effects associated with Invisalign treatment?
The side effects associated with Invisalign include:
- Minor discomfort as teeth shift
- Swollen/tender gums
- Speech difficulties when first starting treatment
- Dry mouth
- Bad breath
- Weight loss