I am super excited today, as I will be going to cover the topic of Invisalign. This treatment modality is mainstream these days and very effective.
I begin by telling you where this word (Invisalign) is coming from: Invisalign is coming from 2 words: Invisible and Aligner. Aligners are basically like removable plates that patients wear on top of teeth to induce some movements and to align them. Invisalign is the process of making Invisible aligners that are barely noticeable because they are transparent and very thin.
Now the question is: Why do we need to align our teeth?
- First and foremost, aligners could help us get our teeth in more favourable positions, which is more aesthetically appealing.
- The second benefit which could be even more important is that well-aligned teeth could be easily cleaned. Therefore, the chance of gum disease and dental decay is greatly reduced.
- The third reason is we can distribute spaces between the teeth to get the patient ready to receive dental implant treatment. By using Invisalign, we can make sure teeth are in the most favourable positions and spaces are wide enough for implant treatment.
- The next reason to use Invisalign is in cases of crowns and veneers. Many people would like to have beautifully made crowns and veneers to enhance their smiles. With the aid of Invisalign, we can move teeth prior to crown and veneer treatment in a way that less tooth material is needed to be removed for such treatments. As a result, the treatment would be more conservative, and the chance to involve the nerve within the teeth is highly reduced.
Now I want to show you how the process works. First, patient comes to dental practice for a consultation. During that session, we need to take a series of photos, upload them on Invisalign site and wait for confirmation. A response will be sent to us possibly around 5 minutes or so, letting us know if the treatment goals or patient expectations could be met by this treatment. If patient is willing to admit treatment, the next session will be making some impressions or digital scans from the mouth and send them to the facility of Invisalign overseas. Then, based on all information, a treatment plan will be formulated, and a series of aligners will be sent to the practice. Some preparation needs to be done in mouth and the first aligner will be delivered. Each aligner should normally be worn by the patient for about a week to induce some movement. The crucial point about Invisalign is that patient has to be compliant. They must wear aligners 22 hours a day. That is very important, and overall success of treatment is largely determined by continuous use. So, aligner is always in mouth except for meals or brushing or flossing. If not done in this fashion, treatment term could unnecessarily be prolonged, which will cause frustration for both dentist and patient.
Which one is better? Braces, or Aligners?
Well, aligners are much easier to tolerate, mire aesthetic, and much easier to clean. But as I said, it needs patient compliance. In case of braces, no compliance is needed, because they are glued, but it makes cleaning the teeth much harder, and they do not look good at all.
There is one thing in the end that you need to consider though:
When Invisalign treatment is finished, we need to make sure we can keep the teeth in their original positions, and they will not relapse. In some cases, we need to put wires at the back of front teeth, or in some cases we could provide patient with some retainers (aligner like) and they need to wear it during the night just make sure teeth will not move. And that would be the retention phase of treatment. In many cases, patients need to wear the wires or aligners for life.
Like all other treatment modalities, Invisalign has its own limitations. It could be utilised to correct crowding, spacing, and other tooth misalignments to some extent only. Therefore, you need to have a consultation with your dentist to determine if you are a good candidate.
Another indication of Invisalign treatment is for cosmetic cases. If any modification is planned in terms of teeth alignment, by using Invisalign, we could make sure we put the teeth in more optimal positions, therefore the next phase of treatment (crowns, veneers; etc) will be more conservative. In other words, dentist will need to remove much less from the tooth structure if it is placed in a more optimal position. In some cases, after Invisalign treatment, no modifications are necessary, and patient could receive their veneers with no preparation whatsoever.
To recap, Invisalign treatment is primarily used for aesthetic purposes, but improved alignment has important health implications as well. It could improve the health of gum and reduce the possibility of dental decay by providing more cleansable, properly aligned teeth surfaces.
I hope I could have addressed the crucial points regarding this useful breakthrough in cosmetic dentistry.
Have a good one!