If you are unhappy with your smile due to crooked or spaces in between your teeth, chances are you have considered orthodontic treatment. While traditional braces are still common, many people are turning to Invisalign® as an alternative. But does it work as well as traditional braces? Can it address all the same dental concerns?
Here at New Leaf Rohnert Park, we understand how confusing all the different orthodontic treatment options can be. We are here to help you better understand Invisalign® and how it may help you achieve the beautiful smile you deserve.
What is Invisalign®?
Invisalign® is an orthodontic treatment option that helps straighten your teeth without the fixed wires and brackets common with traditional braces. It develops clear aligners based on computer-generated images and impressions of your teeth. These clear aligners fit snugly to your teeth, eliminating the very visible brackets and wires associated with traditional braces.
What conditions can Invisalign® address?
When Invisalign® first came to the market, it only worked for minor teeth adjustments. However, with growing technology, these clear aligners and the use of attachments, buttons, and elastics, Invisalign® can treat many more dental alignment concerns as effectively as traditional braces. Some common conditions treatable with Invisalign® include:
- General teeth straightening – When simple fixes, such as slight straightening or closing of gaps, is all you need to achieve the smile you want.
- Crossbite – This occurs when your upper teeth sit inside of your lower teeth when you bite down.
- Crowded teeth – When your teeth are too big for your jaw, the result is crowded or overlapping teeth.
- Gapped teeth – Large spaces between your teeth
- Open bite – When you bite down and your upper and lower teeth do not touch, this is considered an open bite.
- Overbite – This occurs when your top front teeth overlap your bottom teeth.
- Underbite – This occurs when your front lower teeth sit in front of your upper teeth
How does Invisalign® improve your smile?
When you have traditional braces, they work by pulling your teeth into alignment. Invisalign works slightly differently. Tight-fitting aligners slowly force your teeth into their new positions. When you place your first set of aligners into place, you will feel mild to moderate discomfort for a couple of days as the teeth begin to adjust to the aligner position. In one to two weeks, you replace that aligner with a new one. As your teeth start shifting, you will again experience discomfort for a few days. This pattern continues until the treatment reaches the desired end result.
Invisalign vs. braces
Both traditional braces and Invisalign® aligners work to treat a variety of dental concerns and improve the alignment of your teeth. Traditional braces are fixed to the surface of your teeth, are very noticeable, and you must use caution when eating certain food. For this reason, many people were looking for an alternative. Invisalign® aligners allow you to achieve many of the same alignment goals but are relatively unnoticeable. You also have the advantage of removing your aligners when eating, allowing you more freedom in the foods you choose to eat. In addition, brushing your teeth and maintaining good oral hygiene are much easier with removable aligners.
While Invisalign® can be more expensive than traditional braces, they offer a much shorter treatment time. On average, treatment with traditional braces can take an average of two years. Invisalign® treatments can achieve many of the same goals in six to 18 months of treatment.
Is Invisalign® effective?
The treatment is very effective and offers comparable results to traditional braces in most cases when the aligners are worn as directed. While the clear aligners can be removed for eating and brushing your teeth, they must be worn for 20 to 22 hours a day to achieve desired results. Removing your aligners too often or for too many hours during the day can greatly affect the effectiveness of treatment.
A 2019 paper compared the effectiveness of clear aligners with traditional braces. They found that both effectively treated malocclusion, with aligners having an advantage in segmented movement and shortened treatment duration. However, it also showed that aligners were not as effective as braces when producing adequate occlusal contacts, controlling teeth torque, and retention.
Orthodontic and cosmetic dentistry treatment options are unique to every individual and their specific concerns. When you come in for an orthodontic consultation, your dentist will review your specific conditions and explain possible treatment options, including braces and aligners. While some conditions allow for either treatment option, there are some cases where traditional braces are still necessary to achieve optimal results.
Pros and cons of Invisalign®
As with any treatment option, there are always pros and cons. Understanding the pros and cons of Invisalign® aligners can help you make an educated decision when it comes to your treatment choice.
Clear aligners, such as Invisalign®, offer some unique benefits when it comes to teeth straightening treatment options. These include:
- Aesthetically pleasing – The fact that Invisalign is much less noticeable than the traditional wires and brackets seen with braces is why many people choose this treatment option.
- Removable – You can remove aligners, making it more natural and easier to eat the foods you love.
- Easier to maintain good oral hygiene – Unlike traditional braces that can trap food and bacteria around your teeth and make brushing and flossing more difficult, removable aligners allow you to maintain a good oral hygiene routine during your orthodontic treatment.
- Less potential problems – With traditional braces, many people suffer from broken wires and brackets, requiring emergency dental visits. Because typical aligners are replaced every week to two weeks, the chance of breakage is slim. In addition, many people suffer from mouth sores or irritation associated with the wire brackets of traditional braces, something you avoid with aligners.
Despite many pros, there are still some cons associated with Invisalign® aligners. These can include:
- Less effective – While aligners work for many different conditions, they are still limited and not always as effective as traditional braces.
- You must be compliant – Because aligners are removable, the effectiveness of your treatment depends on you wearing the aligners for 20 to 22 hours a day. Failure to wear them will slow down your treatment process.
- Must be removed when eating and drinking – While this is a bonus for many, it can also be difficult in social settings. However, removal is necessary to maintain the aligners’ structure and prevent food, beverages, and bacteria from getting trapped between the aligners and your teeth, increasing the risk of dental decay.
At New Leaf Rohnert Park, we understand how important your smile is and how a beautiful smile can help boost your confidence. We also understand that all the available orthodontic treatment options can be confusing, so we are here to answer all your questions. If you consider fixing your smile with cosmetic dentistry, our team is here to work with you and find the best treatment option to help you achieve your goals. Contact us online or call the office at (707) 586-1549 today to schedule a consultation and see how we can help you achieve a healthy and beautiful smile.