If you’ve ever been interested in getting straighter teeth and done any kind of research at all, I’m sure that you would have come across a method of teeth straightening known as Invisalign; but how does it work? After all, it’s about as far removed from conventional bracket and wiring style braces as you can possibly get. In fact you could say that Invisalign is a 21st century solution to a rather ugly problem.
If you cast your mind back to your school days, (along with school dinners and double maths lessons) you probably remember the unfortunate child who had to endure wearing orthodontic braces for what seemed like an eternity; as calls of ‘brace face’ and ‘metal mouth’ frequently reverberated around the classroom. Maybe that child was you, and that’s why you’re less than enamoured to now be told that you again need orthodontic treatment to realign your teeth.
Thankfully dental technology has moved pretty quickly over the last couple of decades and even modern stainless steel braces are way more comfortable and discreet than their bulky counterparts. But what if you really can’t stand the thought of sporting a mouth full of metal. What options do you have?
Well you could opt for ceramic braces with tooth coloured brackets, or lingual braces which attach to the back of your teeth rather than the front. Alternatively, if you really don’t want people to know you’re wearing braces, then you might want to consider the Invisalign Aligner.
Invisalign is different. It does away with any form of brackets and wiring and instead the system relies on a series of clear acrylic trays that are worn over the teeth. So the million dollar question is this…. If there are no brackets and tensioning wires to help correct your smile, how does Invisalign move teeth?
Invisalign – Strength in numbers
One of the main differences with the Invisalign system is that while all other orthodontic treatments rely on one fixed appliance which is worn for the duration, Invisalign utilises a whole series of aligners. In fact there can be as many as 48 of them depending upon the severity of your condition. Here’s how Invisalign works….
Each aligner (also known as a tray) is custom-moulded to fit over your teeth. They are designed to be taken out and interchanged easily by the wearer. When the first aligner is inserted it fits snugly over the teeth in their current position and is worn for approximately 2-3 weeks. During that time gentle pressure is applied which moves both the tooth and the tooth root. The Invisalign movement per tray is approximately 1/10mm. After several weeks, the first aligner has done its job and is changed for the subsequent one in the series. This second aligner again moves the teeth a further 1/10 mm and while this mightn’t sound like a lot, this slight movement continues as each aligner is changed, until eventually by the end of the process you have straighter teeth.
I guess the next question is…how long does Invisalign take to straighten teeth?
There are no hard and fast rules here – you probably knew I was going to say that right? The reality is that it depends on the severity of your condition. Some people have straighter teeth in 9 months, some take 24-36 months; so sitting on the fence somewhat, you could say that the average process takes around 18 months to complete. With this in mind, if you are one of those impatient types and are hoping to see noticeable Invisalign results after 2 months, then you may be disappointed as it’s going to take a little longer!
Okay, so what can Invisalign not fix?
While the Invisalign system is ideal for fixing pretty much all types of mild to moderate orthodontic problems it isn’t designed to deal with more severe issues; Perhaps you’re wondering if it works with crowded teeth? Well in a word absolutely… it can be very effective and in fact, many people have achieved near perfect results using Invisalign aligners for this particular problem. However once again, it does depend on the degree of overcrowding.
Invisalign -Transparency in design
So, now you know more about what Invisalign can and can’t do and how they work, let’s talk a little about the good stuff…. the actual experience of wearing them.
When you’re fitted with your custom-made transparent aligners you’ll be surprised at how unlike braces they actually are. As the name suggests they’re pretty much invisible, but they do make your teeth appear extra shiny. This isn’t a bad thing unless of course you’re standing in direct sunlight. Then someone might get a glimpse of the aligner as it reflects when you smile. Wearing them is a breeze since you simply slip them on and off your teeth like you would a gum shield. In fact they’re designed to be removed every time you eat and drink anything but water. This in itself is a good thing because let’s face it, discoloured aligners aren’t a great look! However, they do need to be worn for a minimum of 20 hours a day so if you happen to have one of those long 3-4 hour lazy lunches planned, you’ll definitely need to have a workaround 🙂
Okay and finally, we can’t avoid it any more….let’s address the real elephant in the room…does Invisalign hurt?
If you remember shrieking loudly every time you got your braces adjusted in school, you’ll be pleased to know that wearing Invisalign aligners is nothing like that! Instead you may feel slight pressure on the teeth for a few days as they get used to each new aligner, but that soon disappears. Besides, it tells you that the aligners are doing their job.
So there you have it… Invisalign aligners are comfortable and discreet, and can solve a wide variety of orthodontic issues. If you need a 21st century solution to straighten your teeth and would like to find out more about Invisalign, contact Evergreen Dental for a no-obligation consultation today. To book an appointment with Dr Chou and the team, call us on (03) 8595 2628 .