By now, you’ve likely seen ads for Invisalign clear aligners or even have a friend or coworker who has gone through Invisalign treatment. So many of the patients walking through the doors of our Omaha, Nebraska, office for the very first time seem to have a general idea of what Invisalign is, but also have some of the same basic questions: “Does Invisalign really work, and how?” After all, Invisalign treatment, or orthodontic treatment of any kind for that matter, is an investment. Braces have been around for centuries, and while they come with their fair share of pros and cons, they have a long history of success and have proven themselves to deliver the desired result you expected. Here, we’d like to go over the basics of Invisalign, how it works, and what to expect while in treatment.
Before we get into how Invisalign treatment works, and why it may be more appealing to many than traditional metal braces now days, let talk briefly about the history and evolution of Invisalign. Invisalign is a brand of a clear aligner system manufactured by Align Technology which was founded in 1997. The company itself has been around for over 25 years, received it’s FDA approval for Invisalign clear aligners in 1998, and has now been used to treat over 10 million patients! It’s fair to say not all clear aligner companies are created equal or can deliver such beautiful, predictable results. With Invisalign, however, who has pioneered and perfected the way for clear aligners, we’re confident you’ll receive a top-quality product that is truly capable of delivering everything it promises!
There’s plenty of misinformation still lingering out there putting limits on what orthodontic problems Invisalign can correct. In the early years of Invisalign, some specialists agreed that while it treated a mild to average case very well, there were more difficult cases and specific conditions that many still relied on braces and other traditional appliance for. Over the years, Align Technology along with their industry-leading team of scientists and engineers, has radically changed what orthodontists can achieve by utilizing their patented SmartStaging technology, SmartForce features, and SmartTrack material. Backed by two decades of innovation, orthodontist now can treat even the most severe cases to include:
- Crowded teeth: Crowding happens when there’s not enough room in the jawbone to accommodate all the teeth, making them twist, turn and overlap.
- Crooked teeth: Crooked teeth tend to be another result of needing additional room in the jawbone. It may be seen as “minor” or less severe by the average patient, but still requires making space to fit the teeth together properly.
- Spaced teeth: There are several reason spaces can occur. Even the smallest excess space between teeth can create food traps and other dental concerns.
- Misaligned bite (overbite, underbite or openbite): A misaligned bite, also known as Malocclusion, is when the upper and lower teeth don’t fit together properly, is very common, and can cause a variety of problems if left untreated including oral health complications, problems chewing, clenching, grinding, headaches, jaw pain, and troubles breathing, just to name a few.
- Crossbite: This is when one or more of the lower teeth fit outside of the upper teeth, can affect front teeth or back molars alike, and can cause lopsided jaw growth and wearing down of the teeth if left untreated.
Treatment Planning and ClinCheck
So how does Invisalign treatment work? Once you and your doctor have discussed your desired results and created a customized treatment plan, we begin by taking impressions, or in many cases now days, a digital scan of your teeth. This scan, which is performed in the office and takes only a few minutes using a compact, hand-held wand, digitally captures every little detail of your teeth, bite and gumlines, capturing over 6,000 images per second. Once finished, these images are rendered together to create a virtual model that we then upload to Invisalign’s 3D visual interface. This program, called ClinCheck, along with our digital x-rays, takes mapping out your treatment and desired outcome to the next level. From this point, the orthodontist can work within the software to virtually move, tilt, rotate, push and pull each tooth individually, and then map out your prescribed treatment in order achieve optimal, and predictable, clinical outcomes. The technology is so incredible, it’s eliminated any guess work from the treatment planning process.
Your Invisalign Aligners
Once the doctor has created and approved your final treatment plan, one aligner at a time, fabrication begins. Invisalign manufactures a series of clear aligners that will gently move your teeth from their current position into their desired position, one step at a time. Each aligner is trimmed, polished, and bagged sequentially, then shipped directly to our office. This entire process typically takes only a few weeks, and once completed, we see you back in our office to deliver your aligners, bond your SmartForce attachments and any other prescribed appliances, and review your treatment plan. This includes any elastics, wear time and aligner changing instructions. Traditionally, aligners are to be worn a minimum of 22-hours per day, taking them out only when eating, drinking, and brushing your teeth. Of course, they can be left in when drinking water. We recommend the use of Chewies throughout the duration of your Invisalign treatment. Chewies are made of a soft rubber (think baby teether) and assist in fully “seating” the aligner down around each tooth, getting the maximum amount of movement from each of your aligners which is important to keeping you on track and progressing through treatment as desired. Depending on your prescribed treatment, the doctor will ask that you advance to your next aligner anywhere between 1-2 weeks. This is customized for our patients and their treatment needs. While Invisalign treatment is proven to be more comfortable than traditional braces, some soreness and discomfort should be expected for the first few days of wearing your aligners, and from time-to-time as you progress through your aligner series. Tylenol or acetaminophen is recommended should you find it necessary to ease the initial discomfort.
As you near the end of your Invisalign clear aligners, we may find it necessary to perform a Case Refinement. This is very normal and allows us to make changes in your original plan and to perfect any final details that remain before your treatment is concluded. A Case Refinement is simply repeating the process of digitally scanning your teeth, submitting, and approving the desired tooth movements into ClinCeck, and beginning another series of aligners once fabricated and received in our office.
Regardless of what type of treatment you choose braces or Invisalign, retainers will be provided once we’ve reached the end of your treatment. Following the doctor’s recommendations on retainer wear will be just as a critical as is it was during your Invisalign active treatment phase. Think of your retainer as smile insurance; a way to protect your investment. With proper wear you won’t need to worry about your teeth shifting or relapsing which can happen with any type of orthodontic treatment.
If you’re looking for Invisalign in the Omaha area and are interested in what Invisalign has to offer you, please don’t hesitate to call us at (402) 896-4500. We’d be delighted to help answer all your questions and get you going on the path to your dream smile in no time!
Weber Orthodontics has been proudly serving the West Omaha community for over 25 years. Dr. Weber treats children, teens, and adults and offers a range of treatment options including Invisalign and traditional braces. To find out which treatment option is right for you, call us at (402) 896-4500 or schedule your complimentary in-office or virtual consultation right on our website.