An Invisalign clear aligner.

Straightening Teeth with Invisalign

How Does Invisalign Work?

Invisalign is marketed as a less conspicuous alternative to traditional braces, and some people may wonder “how does Invisalign work?” In this article, we explore why it is used and how it works, and we highlight some of the pros and cons. Here’s all you need to know.

What is Invisalign and Why is It Used?

Like traditional braces, people use Invisalign to correct orthodontic problems, such as crooked teeth, overcrowding, and bite issues.

However, Invisalign differs from braces in several ways. It is made from thin, clear plastic known as SmartTrack. This plastic is molded to the teeth and is far less visible than metal braces. Therefore, it is a popular option among people who are concerned about their appearance during treatment.

Invisalign also offers several other advantages over traditional braces, which we will discuss in detail below. However, the reasons for using Invisalign or braces are typically the same.

Some of the issues Invisalign can help with include:

  • Overcrowding
  • Gaps in the teeth
  • Some types of underbite, overbite, or crossbite
  • Open bite

Invisalign may be unsuitable for some problems, including severe bite issues. A qualified doctor should be able to determine whether it is a suitable treatment during the initial consultation.

How Does Invisalign Work to Correct Teeth and Jaw Problems?

The first stage of Invisalign treatment involves using a special scanner to generate a 3D image of the teeth. This scan allows the doctor to create a personalized treatment plan and preview the results.

They will then manufacture a series of “trays” using the SmartTrack plastic. These trays fit over the teeth and move them gradually over time. Patients typically use each set of trays for one to two weeks before moving on to the next one.

It may be necessary to attach small, enamel-colored shapes to the teeth before commencing treatment. These act like handles and give the Invisalign trays something to push against. However, not everybody will need these attachments.

The duration of treatment depends upon the severity of the issue and other factors, like the patient’s age. Some people may complete their treatment in as little as six months, although more serious or complex issues could take longer. Face-to-face consultations usually take place every six to eight weeks to monitor progress.

Pros and Cons of Invisalign

Many people see straightening the teeth as a purely cosmetic issue. However, straight teeth are easier to keep clean, improving dental hygiene and reducing the risk of gum disease.

There are many advantages to choosing Invisalign over traditional braces. For example:

  • They have a far less conspicuous appearance
  • They are removable, meaning they can be taken out for eating and brushing the teeth
  • They are generally more comfortable than traditional braces
  • They do not require repairs, unlike metal braces, which can be prone to breakages
  • If a tray becomes damaged, patients can simply move onto the next set
  • It is often possible to see the results within just a few weeks
    However, there are also some disadvantages to consider:
  • It is necessary to wear the aligners for 20 to 22 hours each day for them to be effective
  • The trays must be removed for eating and drinking anything other than cold water
  • The teeth must be brushed after eating and drinking
  • The attachments can stain easily and it is not possible to whiten the teeth until after the treatment has finished
  • Wearing lipstick, lip gloss, or colored lip balm can stain the aligners
  • It can be fiddly to put the aligners in and take them out
  • The trays can make kissing awkward
  • Invisalign may be more expensive than traditional braces
  • It may be necessary to wear a retainer after treatment to maintain the results

How to Get Invisalign

Anyone interested in trying Invisalign should look for a qualified doctor in their area. The official website has a Doctor Locator feature, allowing prospective patients to input their zip code and find a local practitioner.

Estimated costs range between $3,000 and $5,000, although it may be more for complex cases. As a comparison, metal braces usually cost between $2,000 and $6,000. The overall cost will depend upon the length of treatment and location.

Fortunately, most doctors offer affordable monthly payment plans. Additionally, some insurance plans might partially cover Invisalign costs.

People also have the option of using pre-tax dollars from Health Savings Accounts (HSA) or Flexible Savings Accounts (FSA). Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) may cover some of the cost for children or teenagers, depending on their circumstances.

There are also a few options for getting Invisalign at a discounted price. Dental schools may offer cheaper treatments, carried out by students under close supervision. Companies like Smile Direct Club also offer affordable clear tray aligners, although patients do not benefit from face-to-face consultations.

There is a lot to consider before making the decision to go ahead with Invisalign. Discussing the options with a trained professional is the best way to decide whether it is right for you.

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