By now, you’ve likely seen ads for Invisalign clear aligners or even have a friend or coworker who has gone through Invisalign treatment. So many of the patients walking through the doors of our Amarillo office for the very first time seem to have a general idea of what Invisalign is, but also have some of the same basic questions: “Does Invisalign really work?”, and “How?”
Here, we’d like to go over the basics of Invisalign, how it works, and what to expect while in treatment.
Before we get into how Invisalign treatment works, and why it may be more appealing to many than traditional metal braces, let us talk briefly about the history and evolution of Invisalign.
Invisalign, founded in 1997, is a brand of a clear aligner system manufactured by Align Technology. The company itself has been around for over 25 years, received its FDA approval for Invisalign clear aligners in 1998, and has now been used to treat over 10 million patients!.Since Invisalign was first launched, amazing progress had been made in the effectiveness of treatment, and Align Technology has pioneered and perfected the way for clear aligners.
There’s plenty of misinformation, such as how Invisalign can’t correct bite issues, for example, still lingering out there putting limits on what orthodontic problems Invisalign actually can correct. In the early years of Invisalign, some specialists agreed that while it treated a mild to average case very well, there were more difficult cases and specific conditions that needed the use of braces and other traditional appliances.
Over the years, Align Technology, along with their industry-leading team of scientists and engineers, has radically changed what orthodontists can achieve. By utilizing their patented SmartStaging technology, SmartForce features, and SmartTrack material, orthodontists can see transformative results.
Backed by two decades of innovation, orthodontists can now treat even the most severe cases, including but not limited to:
- Crowded teeth: Crowding happens when there’s not enough room in the jawbone to accommodate all the teeth, making them twist, turn, and overlap.
- Crooked teeth: Crooked teeth can occur when additional room is needed with-in the jawbone. Moving and/or repositioning the teeth to create more space might be required in order to allow teeth to fit together properly.
- Spaced teeth: There are several reasons spaces can occur. Even the smallest excess space between teeth can create food traps and other dental concerns.
- Misaligned bite (overbite, underbite, or openbite): A misaligned bite, also known as malocclusion, is when the upper and lower teeth don’t fit together properly. This is very common and can cause a variety of problems if left untreated, including oral health complications, problems with chewing, clenching and/or grinding of the teeth, headaches, jaw pain, and troubles breathing.
- Crossbite: A crossbite occurs when one or more of the lower teeth fit outside of the upper teeth. This can affect front teeth or back molars alike, and can cause lopsided jaw growth as well as wearing down of the teeth if left untreated.
Treatment Planning and ClinCheck
So how does Invisalign treatment work? Once you and your doctor have discussed your desired results and created a customized treatment plan, we will take impressions, or in many cases, a digital scan of your teeth. This scan is performed in the office and takes only a few minutes. Using a compact, hand-held wand, the scan digitally captures every little detail of your teeth, bite, and gum lines, capturing over 6,000 images per second.
Once finished, these images are rendered together to create a virtual model that is then uploaded to Invisalign’s 3D visual interface. This program called ClinCheck, along with the digital x-rays, takes mapping out your treatment and desired outcome to the next level. From this point, your orthodontist can work within the software to virtually move, tilt, rotate, push, and pull each tooth individually, and then map out your prescribed treatment in order to achieve optimal, and predictable, clinical outcomes.
The technology is so incredible it’s eliminated any guess work from the treatment planning process.
Your Invisalign Aligners
Once your doctor has created and approved your final treatment plan, fabrication begins one aligner at a time. Invisalign manufactures a series of clear aligners that gently moves your teeth from their current position into their desired position. Each aligner is trimmed, polished, and bagged sequentially, then shipped directly to our office. This entire process typically takes only a few weeks, and once completed, we see you back in our office to deliver your aligners, bond your SmartForce attachments or any other prescribed appliances, and review your treatment plan. This includes any elastics, wear time and aligner-changing instructions. Traditionally, aligners are to be worn a minimum of 22-hours per day, taking them out only when eating, drinking, and brushing your teeth. They can be left in when drinking water.
We recommend the use of Chewies throughout the duration of your Invisalign treatment. Chewies are made of soft rubber and assists in ensuring the aligner properly fits around each tooth. Getting the maximum amount of movement from each of your aligners is important to keeping you on track and progressing through treatment as desired. Depending on your prescribed treatment plan and the progress seen, your doctor will instruct you to advance to your next aligner when needed.
While Invisalign treatment is generally a comfortable, pleasant experience, some soreness and discomfort should be expected for the first few days of wearing your aligners, and from time-to-time as you progress through your aligner series. Tylenol or acetaminophen is recommended should you find it necessary to ease the initial discomfort.
As you near the end of your Invisalign clear aligner treatment plan, we may find it necessary to perform a case refinement. This is very normal and allows us to make changes in your original plan and to perfect any final details that remain before your treatment is concluded. A case refinement is simply repeating the process of digitally scanning your teeth, submitting, and approving the desired tooth movements into ClinCeck, and beginning another series of aligners once fabricated and received in our office.
Regardless of what type of treatment you choose, braces or Invisalign, retainers will be provided once we’ve reached the end of your treatment. Following your doctor’s recommendations on retainer wear will be just as critical as it was during your Invisalign active treatment phase.
Think of your retainer as smile insurance; a way to protect your investment. With proper wear you won’t need to worry about your teeth shifting or relapsing, which can happen with any type of orthodontic treatment.
If you’re looking for Invisalign in the Amarillo, Texas area and are interested in the changes it can make in your smile, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (806) 353-3593.
Harwell & Cook Orthodontics looks forward to helping answer all your questions and get you going on the path to your dream smile in no time!
Harwell & Cook Orthodontics is a family-oriented orthodontic practice with offices located conveniently throughout the Texas panhandle. We offer Invisalign and braces treatments for kids, teens, and adults in a fun and relaxing environment. To schedule your complimentary consultation, call the Harwell & Cook office closest to you.