Invisalign is one of the many procedures offered at Implant & Comprehensive Dentistry in Champions Gate, Florida. One of the most common questions we get when consulting with a new patient about Invisalign relates to the duration of time that will be required for the process to work. The answer to this question varies by person and relies upon a number of factors.
Invisalign is a custom aligner that is made specifically to fit an individual person’s mouth. Roughly every two weeks, the aligner is changed to a “next step” plastic device that is molded similarly to a retainer or a mouthguard. The aligner is made of clear plastic to minimize it visually, helping reduce the awkward feelings some experience about having cosmetic orthodontic work done.
While a retainer is designed to keep teeth from shifting out of place after the process of metal braces has finished, an Invisalign aligner is used to actually move the teeth in small, gradual steps using a clear plastic coating that is generated using a mold or impression of the wearer’s mouth. The aligners are fitted to each specific case, so they must be made in cooperation with a dental health professional.
Benefits of Aligners
While no solution is best for everyone, many who try Invisalign are pleasantly surprised by the many benefits afforded by this orthodontic alignment choice. The idea of traditional metal braces can seem inconvenient or even scary for some, but that doesn’t mean that straightening your bite has to feel like an unattainable goal.
Anyone who has experienced metal braces will tell you that the pain isn’t limited to only the attachment of the braces to the teeth. There are a number of ways that traditional braces cause pain, including the soreness of the rapidly shifting teeth, the tightness and tenderness along the gumline, and the way the metal brackets of the teeth can dig into the inner cheeks.
Aligners move teeth more slowly and gradually and offer a little more flexibility for the teeth as they are shifting. They also create a smooth surface on the outside of the teeth, eliminating the pain and annoyance often associated with metal bracket work.
Along with creating a smoother surface on teeth, clear aligners are almost impossible to be seen by other people in passing. Unless you tell someone that you are wearing one, most of the time those you interact with will be completely unable to tell.
This is an especially beneficial characteristic for those who are aligning their teeth later in life. While braces are often expected in the teen years, it can be harder to feel comfortable wearing them as an adult, particularly if you are trying to maintain a professional or authoritative appearance. Aligners work without others noticing that changes are taking place.
Easier to Enjoy Hobbies
Certain hobbies, particularly musical and sports hobbies, can be interrupted by the use of metal braces. Invisible aligners can ease some of these restrictions.
Playing a musical instrument like a trumpet or flute often requires that the lips wrap tightly around the teeth. This can be uncomfortable and difficult if there are metal brackets and wires in the way. It’s far easier and far more comfortable to wrap the lip tightly around a smooth-coated plastic aligning device.
In sports, a blow to the mouth can cause the lips to cut into the bracket work or even cause brackets to pop off requiring repair. Aligners are less delicate and easier to wear and maintain.
Fewer Food Restrictions
Metal braces come with numerous food limitations. Sticky food, hard-to-chew food, and food that creates small particles are usually restricted during the process of having teeth aligned the traditional way.
With Invisalign aligners, the mouthpiece can simply be removed while these foods are enjoyed. This means that you don’t have to give up your old favorites of saltwater taffy or popcorn while you are undergoing teeth alignment.
Faster Than Braces
In many cases, aligners work faster than traditional braces. Metal braces can take sometimes years to get the job done. It is not uncommon for some teenagers to wear them throughout their entire high school experience.
The average amount of time that most wear a series of aligners is about twelve months. This means that in about a year, you could have the straight teeth you have always dreamed of.
Easier to Care for
Water picking, special toothbrushes, and even special rinses are often associated with metal braces. When brackets and wire are involved, extra crevices are created along the tooth line. These spaces can trap plaque and food particles so extra cleaning is often required in order to ensure that nothing that can damage the teeth is being held close to them.
These aligners can be pulled out at any time, making cleaning much simpler. All you have to do is brush and floss as normal, then brush the aligner itself, rinse the mouth out, and place the aligner back in place.
There are fewer dental appointments involved in using a clear aligner. Typically with traditional braces, the wearer is required to check in with their dentist about once a month to have adjustments made and to ensure that proper cleaning is taking place. With these aligners, several in the series are issued at once and a schedule is created to help determine when the aligners should be changed.
This means you will see less of your dentist and feel more in charge of the process as it goes on.
These are just some of the many benefits of using aligners, however. There are many reasons why people choose to go this path over traditional brace work. It should be noted, however, that not everyone is a good candidate for Invisalign.
What Makes a Good Candidate for Aligners?
Not all who want clear aligners will be good candidates to wear them and there are several factors that will play into your dentist’s decision about whether or not they will allow you to go this route with your straightening process.
Young teens and children typically do not make great candidates for clear aligners because of their still-growing teeth and jaw lines. They also are not typically yet mature enough to handle the responsibility of changing out their aligners at the appropriate steps.
Clear aligners are more suited for older teenagers and adults because they can be trusted to follow the timeline set forth by their dental professional. They are also a more convenient choice for the older age group who are not as dazzled by the colorful bands or “normality” associated with metal braces for younger people who typically don’t care as much about how their braces look.
The ability to remove your plastic aligner is a double-edged sword. With metal braces, once they’re on they are on. You cannot turn back, no matter how uncomfortable they may feel.
Although you can remove the aligners, they are needed in your mouth for no less than 22 hours per day to work correctly. If you do not feel that you would wear them appropriately, there is little use in even beginning the process. Similarly, once the process is over, you will need to wear a retainer to prevent the teeth from shifting backward.
If you are not dedicated to your treatment, you should opt for a more traditional method that allows for fewer opportunities to let your commitment slip.
Above all else, your dental condition will determine if Invisalign is the correct path for you. While these clear aligners work well in most situations, there are some instances where metal braces will be the more effective treatment.
Large overbites or underbites, for instance, will require a lengthier process and stronger mechanisms to shift the jaw itself. In these situations, you might find that metal braces or hard plastic braces would reveal a better route.
If, after reviewing these factors, your dentist or orthodontist determines that clear aligners are the correct path forward for you, it will finally be time to discuss what will affect the timeline to a straight smile.
What Factors Affect the Timeline of Clear Aligners?
There are several factors that can affect the timeline of the alignment process:
Severity of Need
For severe situations, more time will be needed to gradually shift the teeth into place. This is especially true in cases where there are large gaps in the teeth or if teeth must be extracted to aid in crowding issues. While the average time most wear these aligners is about a year, it is not unheard of for trays to be changed regularly for up to two years or more when necessary.
Lack of Commitment
Those who frequently forget to move to the next tray in the process or who do not wear their aligners as often as they should will experience a longer amount of time taken for the aligners to do their job. This is why it is very important to make sure you can commit to the process before you even begin.
Scheduled Tray Changes
Each individual liner or tray will come with a scheduled date for first wear. Most of the time, trays are changed every ten to fourteen days. However, if a serious move is taking place, your dentist may decide to have you wear the tray up to thirty days to ensure that the change has taken effect and you are not going to shift back when the tray is again changed.
Depending on how you finance the process, you might pay for all trays upfront or you might pay for trays in several broken-down series that stretch across a few months at a time. If payment plays a part in the speediness of obtaining your trays, you should naturally assume that the entire process will take longer.
There are, of course, always going to be other factors that might also affect the timeline of your process. It is important to discuss any obstacles that might come into play at the time of consultation to get a clear and accurate picture of what you can expect for your individualized alignment schedule.
Schedule Your Invisalign Consultation Today
Call Implant & Comprehensive Dentistry in Champions Gate, Florida today to discuss scheduling your consultation. This is an important and easy first step to a smile you’ll feel proud of, and we look forward to helping you through the process.