Traditional metal braces are no longer the only viable option for tooth realignment. Today, Invisalign aligners are becoming more and more popular with every passing year – and for good reason.
Invisalign offers numerous benefits that ordinary braces lack and can work just as well and just as fast – or faster.
However, some people wonder how Invisalign trays work and what factors affect how well and how fast they realign teeth. Here are some answers to those very important questions!
How Does Invisalign Work?
Invisalign offers a very unique system for correcting all manner of tooth malocclusions such as overbite, underbite, gaps, overcrowding, and other misalignments.
Instead of wearing braces, with their brackets, wires, and rubber bands, you simply wear a snugly fitting aligner tray. The tray is made out of a special kind of acrylic material that is ideal for the task. A whole series of trays is produced at the beginning of treatment, and you wear each one for about 2 weeks before switching over to the next one.
The trays place gentle but firm pressure on teeth in the desired direction. This sustained pressure moves teeth about a quarter of a millimeter per tray (every two weeks). The total treatment period can last anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on the type and severity of tooth misalignment being dealt with.
So Invisalign does work. The question we want to delve into here, however, is what factors affect how fast or how well it works. We will look at four such factors just below.
1. Choosing The Right Orthodontist
First of all, you want to choose a dentist who specializes in things like realigning misaligned teeth – that’s called an orthodontist. But you also want to select an orthodontist who has extensive knowledge, tools, and experience to equip him or her for administering Invisalign treatment.
For one thing, you can look at relevant patient reviews. Also, ask about how much experience and expertise each candidate has in regard to Invisalign. In the Central Florida area, for example, Doctor Beauchamp has extensive experience with this type of treatment – and many others.
Your orthodontist will take measurements of your teeth and jaw and create 3D models and videos. These will be the basis of making the series of Invisalign trays you will wear throughout treatment. Obviously, correctly forming the trays through 3D virtual simulation is crucial to the success and speed of Invisalign treatment. Trust someone skilled at it to ensure it is done right.
2. Wearing Your Invisalign Trays Consistently
The single biggest factor affecting the success and timeframe of Invisalign treatment is patient compliance. The main factor here is simply wearing the trays 20 to 22 hours a day. Twenty-two hours is the preferred number.
Some patients have been known to only wear the trays 10 to 15 hours a day. That will slow down the progress considerably and may even prevent teeth from moving in the correct direction. You simply can’t cut corners when it comes to wearing the aligners.
Invisalign gives you a lot more freedom and convenience during tooth realignment. It lets you take the trays off while eating, for example. But when people take it too far and go below 20 hours of “wear time” per day, results suffer and treatment time is lengthened.
3. Keeping Your Checkup Dates
With Invisalign, you don’t have to return to the orthodontist to have wires readjusted or to clean behind brackets as with metal braces. But you do still need to see your orthodontist every six to eight weeks for a checkup.
Treatment with Invisalign is very predictable if you wear your trays. But it is always possible, with any type of treatment, that some problem might arise that needs to be examined by a dental professional and quickly addressed. Most Invisalign checkup appointments are super-quick because there is nothing wrong. But you want to be sure, and that means keeping your appointments.
4. Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene
Another key factor is ensuring the speed and effectiveness of Invisalign treatment is the maintenance of good oral and dental hygiene throughout the process.
It is imperative that one brush his or her teeth every time after eating or drinking (anything aside from water.) You must brush, floss, and use an antiseptic mouth rinse after eating and before re-placing your trays. You cannot allow food particles and plaque or tartar to build up inside of the trays.
If you get a cavity while going through the Invisalign treatment program, that could affect the speed of the overall process, aside from the need for a filling and the danger caries pose to your oral health.
For those who choose a great orthodontist who knows Invisalign, faithfully wear their aligners, keep all orthodontic appointments, and maintain good oral hygiene – Invisalign can realign teeth as fast or faster than metal braces. It may be necessary, as with metal braces, to wear a retainer at night after treatment – though that shouldn’t be a permanent or long-term need. But aside from that, your teeth and your smile will all “back to normal” immediately after taking off the last Invisalign tray!