Invisalign: Before and After
Malocclusion, or teeth misalignment, is one of the most common dental issues we see at Wolf Schwartz Dentistry. For many years, the primary method of treatment for these issues was traditional metal braces. However, in the late 1990s, Invisalign came onto the scene as an alternative.
Invisalign is a system of clear plastic aligners that gradually shifts misaligned teeth into their appropriate position in the jaw. Treatment with traditional metal braces typically takes up to 36 months, whereas Invisalign can often fix most mild to moderate misalignment issues within 12 to 18 months, depending on the patient’s compliance with wearing the aligners.
More severe cases may require a longer treatment timeline or a completely different treatment method altogether. Since compliance is a factor in the success of treatment, Dr. Schwartz typically recommends this as an option for teens and older.
Invisalign has been proven effective for the treatment of a variety of tooth misalignment issues for all ages- from our pediatric patients to our adult patients.
According to the American Association of Orthodontics, since the clear aligners are custom designed to fit snugly against your teeth, it is a ‘less conspicuous’ method for straightening your teeth.
12 Things to Know Before & After Invisalign
Below, we’ll explore 12 things that you need to keep in mind when you are considering Invisalign as an option for your malocclusion.
Invisalign may require attachments
For some patients, we may recommend “attachments” or “accessories” with your Invisalign clear aligners. These will be temporarily attached to your teeth to help the tray grip and hold individual teeth as they shift into their proper position. The attachments will be tooth-colored, so the aligners will still be virtually invisible. Some patients require rubber bands, which work in the same way that they do with traditional metal braces.
Invisalign is appropriate for all ages
At Wolf Schwartz Dentistry, we recommend Invisalign for teenage and adult patients. We do not recommend it for pediatric patients who still have some of their primary teeth, as their jaws are still forming.
Some patients require treatments prior to Invisalign
Some patients require certain dental treatments prior to moving forward with Invisalign clear aligners for their malocclusion. If your teeth are overly crowded, we may recommend treatments such as expanding the arches to make room for your teeth to shift, extracting teeth to create space for your teeth to shift, or shaving teeth up to one-tenth of a millimeter.
Invisalign must be worn 20 to 22 hours a day
Invisalign clear aligners must be worn for 20 to 22 hours a day for best results. They may be removed for eating/drinking or brushing and flossing your teeth. If you go out, make sure that you bring your aligner case as well as a toothbrush. You will want something to keep your aligners safe if you remove them and you’ll need to clean your teeth before putting the aligners back in.
Invisalign aligners may be uncomfortable in the beginning of treatment
While it is true that Invisalign aligners are much more comfortable than traditional metal braces, it is also important to note that many patients do report some minor discomfort when they first begin treatment. However, this varies from one patient to another, depending on their pain tolerance, the severity of malocclusion, and other factors.
Invisalign makes you eat/drink faster
Since you only have 2 to 4 hours that your aligners can be off of your teeth, you only have a limited amount of time to eat, drink, and practice oral hygiene. Therefore, you must do all of this faster than normal. Many patients struggle with this because they enjoy sitting and sipping on a cup of coffee or glass of wine. However, some patients like this because it helps with weight loss.
Invisalign makes brushing teeth different
When you take your aligners out to eat and drink, you will need to brush and floss before putting the aligners back in. This will help prevent tooth decay, as well as prevent your aligners from getting stained or damaged by food particles.
Invisalign makes kissing different
When you first get your aligners, you may find that they slightly interrupt things in your romantic life. This is because you are not used to having them in your mouth. However, most patients agree that once you get used to them, kissing goes back to normal.
You must keep your aligners clean
There is a right way and a wrong way to clean your Invisalign clear aligners. While it may sound strange, you should never clean your aligners with toothpaste, as it can cause them to become discolored. Instead, you should be using a cleaner specially formulated for aligners.
You can still whiten your teeth with Invisalign
Many patients wonder if it’s possible to whiten their teeth while undergoing treatment with Invisalign. At Wolf Schwartz Dentistry, we agree that teeth whitening during Invisalign treatment is perfectly fine.
You must wear a retainer at the end of treatment
When you complete your treatment with Invisalign, you will be given a retainer to wear in order to keep your teeth in their new position. This will give the jawbone time to heal, securing the teeth. Typically, you will only be required to wear it at night while you sleep.
Who is Eligible for Invisalign?
When given an option between traditional metal braces or Invisalign clear aligners, most patients would choose Invisalign. However, at Wolf Schwartz Dentistry, not every patient qualifies for this option. We have several criteria that we use to determine a patient’s eligibility:
Your malocclusion is not overly complicated
Malocclusions range in severity from mild to severe. Invisalign is most effective on mild to moderate cases. During your consultation, Dr. Schwartz will examine your mouth, as well as take x-rays and impressions, to determine if Invisalign is appropriate for you. If you have a more severe malocclusion, such as severely crooked teeth or gaps larger than 6 millimeters, you may require traditional metal braces or oral surgery.
You are committed to wearing the aligners
One of the primary reasons that Dr. Schwartz recommends that patients be a certain age to qualify for Invisalign is the responsibility factor. The aligners must be worn for 20 to 22 hours a day to work. This means that if you are not eating/drinking, or brushing and flossing your teeth, you should be wearing them- even when you are sleeping. If you are not willing to commit to wearing the aligners, we may recommend another method of treatment.
You have all of your permanent teeth
Since it is impossible to predict when a child may lose primary teeth and when the permanent teeth will erupt, Dr. Schwartz recommends Invisalign for patients who have all of their permanent teeth. If you still have one or more of your primary teeth or have some permanent teeth that have not come in, we may recommend additional dental work or recommend that you wait.
You have good oral hygiene habits
Practicing good oral hygiene is critical, especially for patients who are using Invisalign to address their malocclusion. In order to avoid infection or other complications, you must keep your mouth healthy and take care of your aligners.
You do not smoke
Since you should be wearing your aligners 20 to 22 hours a day, you should avoid smoking because the tobacco can stain the trays. There is also some research indicating that Invisalign is not as effective for patients who smoke.
If you remove them while you smoke, you are taking away from the time that you are wearing the aligners, which means they may not be as effective.
Schedule Your Consultation Today
If you have a mild to moderate malocclusion and are interested in learning more about Invisalign as a treatment option, please schedule your consultation with Dr. Schwartz and the team today. We can evaluate your condition and determine the best option for treatment. We are located on Southeast 5th Street in Boca Raton. Our office hours are Monday through Friday 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. We look forward to helping you resolve your malocclusion and giving you the smile you always dreamed of.