Invisalign® is a technique to move teeth using a series of clear, removable, aligners. The aligners are flexible trays custom made using state-of-the-art 3-D computer technology to gradually move teeth without using metal braces or wires. Each aligner is precisely calibrated to fit snugly over the teeth to move them to their final positions.
Only selected cases can be treated with the Invisalign system. For the removable aligner to place controlled and efficient forces on the teeth to move them to their desired locations, certain criteria must be met. All teeth must be fully erupted, therefore Invisalign® is not recommended for children, adolescents or those individuals without a fully erupted dentition. The aligners are designed to move teeth and not to correct bite or jaw discrepancies. In other words, Invisalign® will not correct large overjets or underbites. An aligner will not correct moderate to severe crowding or spacing. Those people with bridges may not be candidates for Invisalign® because the bridge links two or more teeth firmly together and this can offer significant resistance to tooth movement. The aligners must be worn full time, day and night, and they should only be removed for eating, brushing, and flossing. If this is not possible, the aligners will not achieve the desired movements.
Once a case has been selected for Invisalign®, special impressions are taken of the teeth. These impressions are sent to the Invisalign® laboratory for fabrication of the aligners. Three to four weeks later the aligners are ready. In some cases, special bonded attachments will need to be placed on selected teeth to provide more controlled movement. A full upper and lower treatment case may involve 20+ aligners per arch. Each aligner is worn full time for two to three weeks. After wearing one aligner, the next aligner in the series is worn. Gradually over a period of time, the teeth move to their final positions. Since you will be given multiple aligners at each appointment, visits to our office may vary between two to eight weeks. The length of treatment will vary depending on the severity of the case. If the aligners do not achieve the intended result, then braces may be necessary to fine-tune the tooth positions. After treatment is complete, standard retainers will be needed. These retainers are designed to hold teeth in their final positions and prevent the teeth from relapsing back to their original positions.
Since the aligners move teeth, people will experience some symptoms typical of traditional orthodontic therapy. Teeth may be sore for three to five days after receiving a new aligner. This is a sign that pressure is being applied to the teeth and they are moving. This discomfort typically goes away by itself in a few days. The aligner may affect speech temporarily. Some people may have a slight lisp or experience difficulty in producing certain sounds because their tongue is adjusting to the presence of the aligner. This symptom also generally disappears. Other people may find themselves salivating more with the wearing of their first aligner. Again, this will disappear in a few days.
An aligner may be cleaned by brushing it and rinsing it in lukewarm water. Aggressive brushing may scratch the aligner and make it more visible. Do not eat, chew gum, or smoke with an aligner on. This will discolor or distort the aligner. Other than water, drinking is ill-advised while the aligners are on.
A lost, broken, or distorted aligner will not move teeth in the proper manner. If an aligner is lost or broken after less than ten days of wear, use the previous aligner and call our office to make a new aligner. If the aligner has been worn for 11 days or more, change to the next aligner in the series.