What’s Involved in the Invisalign® Process?
It’s amazing how much dental and orthodontic technology has evolved over the past several years. After all, it was only a few years ago when anyone wanting a straighter smile had to wear traditional metal braces for an extended period of time in order to achieve that goal. But today, thanks to advancements in orthodontic treatments, all that has changed. Now, if you or a member of your family are interested in enjoying a straighter, more beautiful smile, you might be a candidate for Invisalign®. This remarkable tooth-straightening technology involves the patient wearing clear plastic trays as an alternative to traditional metal braces and other orthodontic devices. If you’re wondering what’s involved in the Invisalign® process, you’ve come to the right place! Read on to find out more about this amazing and effective orthodontic treatment.
A Brief Explanation of Invisalign®
The Invisalign® tooth-straightening method is very different than conventional braces. In this treatment method, the patient is simply required to wear a set of custom-made, clear plastic aligner trays for at least 22 hours each day. The most obvious benefit is that the aligner trays are virtually impossible for other people to see, as opposed to metal braces which are all too obvious for many dental patients.
The Five Steps Involved in the Invisalign® Process
Although the exact process may vary somewhat depending on the individual, generally speaking, there are five steps involved in the Invisalign® process.
- The initial appointment with the dentist or orthodontist: The first step involves meeting with your oral health care provider for an oral exam and an assessment of your current oral health. Although Invisalign® is an excellent choice for many patients, it may not be the right treatment for everyone. Aligner trays are usually most appropriate for people with mild to moderately crooked teeth. If you fall into that category and suffer from crooked/misaligned teeth, crowded teeth, gaps in between teeth, protruding teeth, overbites, underbites, or crossbites, Invisalign® may be an effective resolution for you. Those with more severe issues may need to look into another tooth-straightening method. And it’s important to remember that any other oral health problem that you have will need to be resolved prior to beginning the Invisalign® process or any other tooth-straightening method, for that matter. So if you suffer from gum disease or tooth decay, for example, your dentist will want to treat those conditions before implementing any tooth-straightening method. Only your dentist or orthodontist can determine whether or not Invisalign® is right for you, and it is during this initial appointment that you’ll find out whether you’re a good candidate, as well as learning a bit more about the overall treatment process.
- Digital photographs, scans and X-rays: The second step in the process involves your dentist or orthodontist creating digital images of your teeth and gums. These images will be used by an outside lab to create the customized, clear plastic trays that you’ll wear throughout the treatment period. Thanks to digital technology, you won’t have to undergo having molds made in the traditional manner, where the dentist creates physical impressions using trays filled with messy dental putty and inserted into the patient’s mouth for a period of time until hardened – a process that is often uncomfortable for the patient. Once the digital impressions are created, the dentist or orthodontist sends them to an outside Invisalign® lab, where a series of custom trays are created.
- Being fitted for the first set of trays: The Invisalign® process involves wearing a set of trays for a period of two to three weeks, then switching that set out for a new set. This process is repeated throughout the treatment period, with each new tray continually moving the teeth into their new, straighter positions. The third step in the process involves the dentist or orthodontist fitting the patient with the first set of Invisalign® trays. During that appointment, the oral health care provider will make sure that the trays fit snugly and comfortably. From that point forward, the patient may need to come into the office every few weeks for a new set of trays, but some people may be able to receive their trays at home and switch them out on their own.
- Follow-up appointments with the dentist or orthodontist: Another advantage of the Invisalign® process is that the patient doesn’t have to visit the dentist or orthodontist as frequently as they would for traditional metal braces. In fact, as we mentioned earlier, many times the patient can switch to a new set of trays without even needing to visit the office. Still, patients do have to make periodic follow-up appointments to the dentist or orthodontist so they can check on the patient’s progress.
- Completing the treatment period: Although treatment times can vary depending on the patient, most people complete the Invisalign® process in a timeframe that ranges between 9 and 18 months. After completing treatment, most patients will need to wear a retainer to ensure that their teeth remain in their new, straighter positions. Most people begin this phase of treatment by wearing their retainers full time, then transition into wearing them only at night. Many people end up wearing them for only a few nights a week. The length of time that each patient is required to wear a retainer varies depending on the individual.
Considering all the advantages that come with the Invisalign® treatment method, it’s no wonder that it has become such a popular choice for patients from all across the US. Not only are these clear plastic trays virtually invisible to other people, they’re also much more comfortable than traditional metal braces. And because the patient can remove the trays to eat meals and clean their teeth and gums, it means that there are no dietary restrictions with Invisalign® and brushing and flossing is much easier than it is with conventional braces. In addition, the treatment time required to complete the Invisalign® treatment method is typically much shorter than that required for metal braces. If you would like to learn more about what’s involved in the Invisalign® process, contact your dentist or orthodontist today and schedule an appointment.