Orthodontia has come a long way from the metal bands and catgut connectors archeologists have found in ancient mummies. You might not realize just how many options are available to you and your child these days or of one of the newest treatments – a system called Invisalign. Many people have found that Invisalign is better than traditional braces and report there are clear benefits of Invisalign at any age.
So What is Invisalign?
Unlike traditional braces, which are affixed to teeth with cement and mean a mouthful of metal due to the brackets and wires used in the system, Invisalign aligners are removable. The aligner is made of clear plastic that fits over the teeth and is so unobtrusive that many people won't even realize you're wearing it. Each aligner is slightly different to gradually move teeth into position. You wear an aligner 22 hours a day for several weeks, then switch to the next aligner in the series. Treatment takes about as long as with conventional braces and the cost is comparable in most cases.
Traditional braces use brackets that must be attached to each tooth, plus wires that connect the brackets together and put tension on the teeth. Invisalign aligners are designed on a computer from molds the orthodontist makes of your teeth. These aligners are custom-designed and created just for you. You can actually see what your teeth will look like when the treatment is finished by looking at the computer model. Once the treatment plan is complete, the Invisalign technicians create the individual aligners and send them to the orthodontist. The orthodontist performs the initial fitting and gives you instructions for use and care.
One of the benefits of Invisalign at any age for a patient is the removable aligner. For the younger teen who plays sports, there's no risk of a mouth injury from wires or risk of breaking a bracket. For older teens, the removable aligner means senior pictures and the prom will not be marred by a mouthful of metal. For the adult with an important business presentation, the aligner can be discreetly removed. For all of these individuals, Invisalign means less time spent at the orthodontist's office. Invisalign doesn't need to be adjusted like traditional braces, so an appointment about every six weeks is the norm.
Diet and Oral Hygiene
Traditional braces typically require some dietary alterations. For example, popcorn can easily break wires or brackets. Sticky food like dried fruit or candies cling to the tiny crevices, increasing the risk of bacterial growth. Oral hygiene is much more difficult because of the complex array of metal inside the mouth. Metal braces can also leave stains on the teeth when they are removed. With Invisalign, the aligner can (and in fact must) be removed to eat; no dietary changes necessary, which can be a big deal for teens. The aligner is also taken out for oral hygiene, which allows flossing and brushing to remove any food particles and ensure each tooth surface is properly cleaned.
Choosing Invisalign vs. Braces
With all the advantages Invisalign offers, choosing Invisalign vs. braces seems like a done deal. However, there are some situations when traditional braces will do a better job. Traditional braces are more effective in people with severe malocclusion. Invisalign can't be used in younger children whose teeth are still growing, as it is too difficult to make effective aligners when the teeth are constantly changing. Invisalign may be be a good choice for someone who lacks the self-discipline to wear the aligner the prescribed 22 hours a day. However, Invisalign will help correct the majority of orthodontic problems most people experience and the benefits of Invisalign at any age are so significant that most people really like this system much better than traditional braces.
Straight teeth are possible for almost anyone who wants them. In addition to the cosmetic benefits, you will also have better oral health and a decreased risk of cavities and gum disease, because you will be able to chew properly and can clean your teeth thoroughly. Contact your orthodontist for an assessment to determine if Invisalign is a good choice for your orthodontic treatment needs.