Many of us would like nothing more than for our natural teeth to be perfectly straight. However, the reality is, for many of us they do not end up positioned quite as we would like.
When we talk about the position of teeth in the mouth, we refer to it is the alignment of teeth. Teeth that are well-aligned form a nice arch in the upper and lower arches (jaws). Malalignment is the word used for if one or more of your teeth are not in this arch shape.
Despite this, many adults, even those who have previously undergone orthodontic treatment, look for options to perfect the appearance of their smile.
Cosmetic treatments such as veneers can be a solution to hid malalignments. Often best long term option is to simply correct the alignment of the natural teeth.
Adult braces are the solution in this realignment process.
The stereotypical image might be metal braces, but modern technology now allows the option of clear and practically invisible braces.
Invisalign is a leading brand that has changed the smiles of millions globally.
In this article, we explain all of the key things you need to know about Invisalign and their invisible brace treatment options.
A brace is a device used to align and straighten teeth. Overall, this is known as orthodontic treatment.
Orthodontic treatment involves moving rotated (twisted) crowded and protruding teeth, closing gaps, and correcting the bite so that the teeth come together nicely when the mouth is closed.
Treatment can increase comfort eating, as well as prevent this risk of damaging your jaw joint if you are able to chew properly because of the position of your teeth. Having straighter teeth can also give you the best chance of keeping your teeth clean and healthy.
Braces come in a variety of styles, all of which use pressure to manipulate the position and rotation of the tooth.
More traditional fixed appliances are much more obvious because of the amount of metal stuck to the teeth.
This tray-based system is not a permanent fixture and can be removed at any time. The effectiveness relies on you continually wearing the aligner.
It is Invisalign (a brand created by Align Technology), which pioneered the invisible brace and has become the most recognized brand and popular choice within the UK for clear aligners.
Other companies do exist, offering a like for like product. We look at some of the other options later in this article.
It is worth knowing that there is a type of metal brace that is fitted to the back of the teeth.
Lingual braces, as they are known, work much like a fixed brace but with the benefit that they are not immediately obvious.
Lingual braces are not the focus of this article, but you should acknowledge their existence and how they differ to clear aligner trays because the term invisible is often used to describe this type of brace.
Lingual braces are made by many different companies and are sold under different brands. Some of the larger and more popular options include Incognito by 3M, Harmony by American Orthodontics and Stb by Omco.
The clear aligners that Invisalign and competing brands make rely on pressure being applied to the teeth in certain ways to guide and manipulate their alignment within the mouth.
Custom made trays are made for patients and worn for anything between 1-2 weeks.
At these intervals, a new tray is fitted by the patient to progress the alignment process.
Each tray will have a new minor adjustment that will move teeth anywhere up to 0.25mm at a time.
This procedure is repeated over many weeks (with periodic checkups in between) until the realignment of the teeth has been completed.
Extensive detail of the Invisalign journey is available in the section called ‘the Invisalign treatment process explained’.
Invisalign offers several different brace products. Every aligner is custom made for each patient, but the different products are designed to work for different people and different cases.
Invisalign Full is the classic Invisalign product that is most commonly used and is described at length in this guide.
It is suitable for the more complicated tooth alignment and positioning treatments and relies on a plastic tray for both the upper and lower arch of teeth.
Treatment usually takes 12-18 months.
Suitable for those where the most minor of adjustments are being made, it relies on just 7 sets of aligners and can correct malalignment in as little as 3 months.
Bridging the gap between Invisalign Full and i7, the concept here is that treatment can be completed in approximately 7 months for those simple to moderate malalignment cases.
Invisalign Go is the newest treatment system from Align Technology and has superseded i7 and Lite. It uses Invisalign’s latest technology to correct mild to moderate misalignment of the front 10 teeth, those most important aesthetically.
Invisalign Go allows general dentists (rather than specialist orthodontists) to provide comprehensive alignment of up to 20 aligners, with the support of specialists every step of the way.
There is a simplified 3 step process to determine if a patient is suitable:
This product is equivalent to the Invisalign full clear brace but is specially designed for younger patients requiring orthodontic treatment.
The braces make allowances for the fact that the wearer is still growing. The course of treatment takes into consideration the fact that their jaws are still developing and that some tooth (mal)alignment is still occurring naturally.
Special features include allowance within the brace for teeth to erupt naturally without being impeded. They also come with wear indicators that turn from blue to clear, giving the wearer and their guardian clear signs of just how often the appliance is being worn.
In addition, because Invisalign knows how easy it is for aligners to be lost, 6 free replacement aligners are included in the cost.
The treatment time is usually 12-18 months.
We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us today to answer all of your questions so get an appointment today.