When you hear the word “orthodontics,” what comes to mind? More than likely it is an image of metal brackets and wires lining the teeth. However, while traditional braces and other forms of braces like clear braces and lingual braces are the most common means for straightening teeth, there now exists an increasingly popular alternative: Invisalign® clear aligners.
What Makes Invisalign Different?
Unlike the various types of braces offered by your Chicago and Vernon Hills orthodontist, Invisalign aligners do not utilize metal bracket or wires. Invisalign aligners are constructed of almost invisible polyurethane plastic, and slide on over your teeth. They are not bonded or cemented to teeth the way that braces are, making them removable throughout the treatment process. As a result, Invisalign offers some great benefits that traditional braces do not.
- Improved Appearance — Some people are hesitant to pursue orthodontic treatment because they are self-conscious about how they will look with the metal wires and brackets of braces. But Invisalign is a practically invisible form of orthodontic treatment. You can straighten your teeth without interfering with the appearance of your normal smile along the way.
- Easier Oral Hygiene — With an orthodontic appliance that is removable, you will be able to clean your teeth much more easily than if you were wearing metal braces.
- Food Freedom — To protect the metal wires and brackets of braces, your orthodontist will tell you to avoid eating certain foods. However, with Invisalign you remove your aligners for every meal. You don’t need to change your diet at all. You can still bite into the crispiest apple or pizza crust.
- Comfort — The soft, flexible material of Invisalign aligners will not irritate the soft tissues of your mouth, which metal wires and braces have the potential to.
- Teeth-Grinding Protection — If you have a teeth grinding or clenching habit, Invisalign aligners can function as thin nightguards that will protect your teeth from excessive wear.
In addition to these benefits, Invisalign’s removability comes with the advantage of removing aligners for special occasions, pictures, etc. Be weary though. Invisalign aligners should be worn for at least 20 hours a day. So you’ll need to resist the temptation to take your aligners out more than is advised by your Chicago and Vernon Hills orthodontist.
How Invisalign Works
Overall, Invisalign aligners work the same way that traditional braces do: applying carefully controlled forces to teeth to slowly shift them into a better position. In terms of specifics, your Invisalign journey proceeds as follows.
- Specialized computer software helps your orthodontist design a plan for moving your teeth from their current positions into the best possible alignment.
- This movement will be broken down into stages. For each stage, two Invisalign aligners will be created for you—one to fit over your top teeth and one for the bottom.
- You will wear this first set of aligners for two weeks for a minimum of 20 hours per day. Then you will move on to the next set of aligners in the series, continuing gradual movement in this way until your teeth are correctly aligned.
In the past few years, two new features have been added to make Invisalign more teen-friendly. First, special “eruption tabs” hold space open for new molars that have not yet fully developed. Second, Invisalign Teen comes with “compliance indicators” built into the aligner material, which fade with wear. This allows orthodontists, teens, and their parents to see how frequently the aligners are being worn, and if that matches up with the time prescribed by your orthodontist.
Keep it Clean
As mentioned above, one of the main advantages of Invisalign is that aligners can be removed. Given this, it is important that you take time to make sure your aligners are kept clean.
You'll need to brush your teeth after every meal or snack so that food and plaque do not get trapped in the aligners, which could lead to tooth decay and gum disease. And your aligners will need to be cleaned regularly too. You can do this by brushing your aligners with a toothbrush then rinsing them with lukewarm water.
While the experience of wearing Invisalign aligners is much different than the experience of wearing traditional braces, the importance of retention (retaining your post-treatment results) is exactly the same. You'll want to be sure to wear your retainer(s) exactly as prescribed by your orthodontist after your Invisalign treatment is completed to protect your beautiful new smile.
Getting Started on a Straighter Smile
Invisalign is a great alternative to traditional braces. Able to straighten your teeth while allowing you to retain your normal appearance, diet, and habits—it is growingly popular form of orthodontic treatment in our Chicago and Vernon Hills offices. Please note though, while Invisalign can correct many malocclusions and orthodontic issues, there are still some situations where traditional braces would be a better option. Your orthodontist would be happy to discuss Invisalign treatment with you in more detail. Contact us at our Chicago or Vernon Hills office today to schedule an appointment.
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