How Does Invisalign® Work? An Overview of the Process
Compared to traditional orthodontic braces, which realign teeth in fairly crude fashion, Invisalign® relies on gentle, precisely directed pressure. Thanks to the use of several advanced techniques, the Invisalign® approach is much more comfortable and less invasive than conventional orthodontic braces. The process is also easy to understand and consists of a few simple stages that Invisalign® specialists in Denver or Colorado Springs will normally walk patients through at the start.
Your Initial Consultation
Invisalign® is a versatile, effective way of correcting many dental alignment and spacing problems. Even so, it is not necessarily appropriate for every patient. The Invisalign® process, then, will begin with an initial meeting during which the dentist and patient discuss whether Invisalign® will make sense for that individual. This first consultation also serves as an opportunity for patients to ask questions and become better informed about the Invisalign® process.
Creating a Digital Model of Your Teeth and a Plan for Treatment
The next stage of the Invisalign® process involves a visit during which X-rays, photographs, and dental impressions of the teeth are taken. The results contribute to the creation of a detailed three-dimensional digital model of the mouth that allows the dentist to map out proposed realignments and shifts of the patient’s teeth.
At this point, the dentist will present the plan, including how long it will take in total. The sophisticated CAD/CAM software used for Invisalign® allows the patient to view the proposed changes in concrete form, after which the dentist and patient can discuss whether the patient is interested in proceeding with the treatment.
This appointment usually takes around an hour, including time for the patient to ask questions. Most Invisalign® treatments last around a year, all told, although they can vary in length from three to eighteen months, depending upon the needs of the particular patient.
Ordering Your Invisalign® Aligners
If the patient decides to go ahead with the proposed treatment, the dentist will then order the Invisalign® aligners that will be worn throughout. The Invisalign® company will use the previously produced digital model of the patient’s mouth to create anywhere from twelve to forty-eight pairs of aligners, depending upon the length of the planned treatment, each of which will be worn in sequence. It will take from three to six weeks for the aligners to be produced.
Invisalign® aligners are made from smooth, comfortable, BPA-free plastic and are designed to apply gradual, precisely aimed pressure to the teeth in accordance with the planned treatment. Because they are virtually transparent and fit the teeth so closely, Invisalign® aligners are almost invisible to others when worn.
Picking Up Your First Set of Invisalign® Aligners
Once the dentist has the aligners in hand, the patient will come in to pick them up. The first set will normally include three pairs of Invisalign® aligners, each of which will be worn for around two weeks. The dentist will make sure that the aligners fit properly, and then talk to the patient about how to insert, use and care for them.
Typically, this means wearing the aligners for a minimum of twenty hours per day, while removing them before eating or brushing the teeth. Although Invisalign® is a powerful way of improving a smile, the process can only work if patients wear the aligners as directed, so it is important that they keep up with this commitment. An initial period of adjustment is to be expected, but most patients find that they quickly become comfortable with their new Invisalign® aligners.
Monitoring Your Progress
After asking any questions that come to mind, the patient will then head home with his or her new Invisalign® aligners. The patient will wear the first pair for the agreed-upon period, normally two to three weeks, and then switch to the second pair in the series. Each pair differs slightly from the previous one, being designed to account for shifts and realignments of the teeth that have already occurred thanks to the treatment. Each Invisalign® aligner is capable of moving teeth around 0.2 millimeters, about the width of the finest mechanical pencil leads.
The three pairs of the first set of aligners will normally be worn for around six weeks in total. Patients will typically begin to notice progress at this point, although the effect may be relatively subtle. The gentle, precise pressure that the Invisalign® utilizes may take longer to produce obvious results than with relatively crude, conventional braces, but it adds up over time, nonetheless.
Your First Checkup
After around six weeks of wearing Invisalign® aligners, the patient will return to the dentist for a first checkup. The dentist will examine the patient’s teeth to see how they are progressing, judging their shifts and movements against the treatment plan that was laid out at the start. Normally, this routine visit will establish that everything is going according to plan, in which case the patient will continue with the next set of Invisalign® aligners as before.
Your Invisalign® Treatment Concludes
This process will continue for anywhere from three to eighteen months, depending on the patient’s needs, with most treatments lasting around a year. Progress will become increasingly obvious as time goes on and each new set of Invisalign® aligners does its work.
When the planned course of Invisalign® treatment finishes, the patient will come in for a concluding appointment with the dentist. The dentist will check that the desired results have been realized, which is normally a formality given that progress has been closely monitored throughout the process.
Preserving the Effects of Invisalign® After Your Treatment
Most patients will need to wear some form of retainer at least part-time after the Invisalign® treatment is finished, or else their teeth will tend to go back to their original positions and orientations. Typically, this will involve wearing a retainer as often as possible for a few months, after which many patients can switch to wearing one while they sleep. In some cases, dentists will recommend retainers similar to those typically made for former users of conventional dental braces.
Others might benefit from wearing Vivera® retainers produced by the makers of Invisalign®. Like Invisalign® aligners, Vivera® retainers are made from clear, comfortable plastic, and they can be a very effective way of keeping smiles looking great for a long time to come. Compared to Invisalign® aligners, Vivera® retainers are designed to last much longer, so that patients can rely on them for years if needed, typically switching to nighttime use as the bones of their jaws adjust to supporting the new alignments of their teeth.