Here’s what you need to know before signing up for treatment
- There’s no doubt that Invisalign can provide excellent results for some patients
- The quality of your result is very heavily dependent upon the skill of your doctor and your compliance with wearing the aligners
- Here’s the low-down on what you should know before signing up and what some of your alternatives might be
Let me start off by saying: I think Invisalign is great
The company transformed the orthodontic world by digitizing the tooth alignment process and making an esthetic treatment alternative readily accessible to patients. Over the years it has developed into a fierce competitor in the teeth straightening market as many of its initial limitations have been overcome. That said, a lot of the advertisements out there don’t portray a perfectly accurate picture of what life is like with Invisalign.
The Invisalign treatment process
After the initial consultation with your orthodontist (yes, you should definitely be seeing an orthodontist for Invisalign since it involves straightening your teeth and correcting your bite), the next step involves getting an impression of your teeth. This can be done with a putty impression or digital scanner.
“The success of your treatment after the ideal plan has been created is almost entirely dependent upon you actually wearing the trays full time”
At that point you get to sit back and let everyone else do the work. Your models will be digitized and a comprehensive treatment plan will be created through collaboration between your orthodontist and the team at Invisalign. This part is critical, as your doctor’s instructions to Invisalign are going to determine how effective the clear aligners are at fixing your bite. A poor initial plan can result in a less than acceptable result and prolonged treatment time. So be sure to choose your doctor wisely.
After your orthodontist creates and approves the comprehensive treatment plan, the clear aligners are fabricated and delivered between 2 and 4 weeks later. During your first treatment visit, your doctor will place tooth colored attachments (or little bumps) on the front of some of your teeth to help the trays stay in place. This is very common and necessary at least 90% of the time to help with ideal tooth movement. These attachments blend in better than traditional braces but they’re still visible. Many patients aren’t aware of this when they sign up for treatment and are surprised at their first appointment.
The success of your treatment depends on you as well as your orthodontist
The other key thing to keep in mind is that the success of your treatment after the ideal plan has been created is almost entirely dependent upon you actually wearing the trays full time. That’s 22 hours a day, 7 days a week, assuming you spend 2 hours each day eating and brushing your teeth without the aligners. There’s very little exception to this rule. If you don’t think you can be militant about keeping those trays in, Invisalign isn’t your best option.
If all of this sounds good to you, visit your orthodontist to see if you’re a good candidate. Keep in mind that there are other treatment options such as highly esthetic clear braces and for those who want a truly invisible treatment option, lingual or ‘hidden’ braces. At the end of the day, anything that involves moving your teeth and fixing your bite relies upon the skill of your doctor and your overall commitment to the treatment, whether it’s Invisalign, lingual braces, or something in between.