Each year over 1.4 million adults see a dentist about aligning their teeth. The number continues to grow as adults realize teeth straightening is not just for adolescents. Here at Ragan Orthodontics in Dallas, TX, we want you to feel confident in your decision and understand the complete treatment process. If you have concerns about the alignment of your teeth you may already be considering Invisalign treatment.
What Should I Expect During Invisalign?
Used by over 1.8 million people, Invisalign is a more discreet alternative to traditional, metal braces. It is a tooth aligning treatment using clear, removable, flexible plastic aligners to gradually straighten teeth. Made from a patented, transparent thermoplastic called SmartTrack®, the aligners are thin and fit neatly over your teeth. They are practically invisible, no one may even notice you are wearing them.
How Does It Work?
Your orthodontist will create a personalized treatment plan based on the unique movements of your teeth. Your aligners are designed to apply pressure to the correct place at the right time according to your plan, with regular check-ups to ensure the process is working as intended. As treatment continues, teeth are straightened gently into place. Treatment can last anywhere between six to fifteen months, depending on the individual.
Who Does It Work For?
The aligners work for a range of orthodontic concerns such as overcrowding, overbite, underbite, gap teeth, crossbite, open bite, or those who generally just want straighter teeth. They may be used by those who have already had braces in the past and have seen teeth shift since having them off. Whatever your concerns, arrange a consultation with Dr. Ragan who can take a detailed evaluation of your teeth and determine whether this treatment is the best approach for you. For those who are not a good candidate, other orthodontic treatment options will be recommended.
The aligners are transparent and thin, making them practically invisible and comfortable to wear, other people may not even notice that you are undergoing treatment. Without the wires and brackets of traditional metal braces that could irritate your mouth, there is none of the pain or inconvenience that comes with tightening traditional braces. They are also removable, making it easier to eat meals, drink, and brush and floss teeth.
Having straight teeth has more than just cosmetic benefits, correctly aligned teeth help with biting, chewing, and speaking properly. Straight teeth are generally healthier as there are fewer places for food or plaque to get stuck. Plus, they are easier to brush and floss, therefore, easier to keep clean.
How To Get Started
You can start by taking the free Smile Assessment Test on the official Invisalign website. If you’re still not sure if the treatment is right for you or you’ve decided you want to start the process, speak to us at Ragan Orthodontics, or alternatively, you can speak to Invisalign directly by contacting their Smile Concierge Team. The Smile Concierge Team is there to answer any, and all of your questions regarding the treatment. They can also help you schedule a consultation with a trained dentist near you.
During the initial consultation, your orthodontist will answer any questions you may have and will discover if it is the right treatment option for you. We will then evaluate your smile by using x-rays and photographs and then create a personalized treatment plan, demonstrating the step-by-step process of transforming your smile. The 3D images will demonstrate exactly how your teeth will respond throughout the treatment process and give you a sneak peek of the end result.
Once you’ve made the decision to go ahead with the treatment you’ll be invited to a treatment consultation. During this consultation, your individual case will be discussed in depth so that you understand exactly what to expect throughout the entire treatment process. You’ll find out how long the treatment is expected to take and the treatment cost. Once you approve, your unique aligners are created and your Invisalign journey begins.
How Are My Aligners Made?
Using an iTero Element® scanner, your orthodontist will capture a 3D image of your teeth which is then shared with Invisalign technicians. The aligners are then produced in a lab by an advanced 3D printing process and then shipped to your orthodontist within just a few days, we will then check they fit correctly and show you how to remove and care for them.
To begin treatment you may require SmartForce® attachments. These are tiny, tooth-colored handles or bridges which are bonded temporarily to your teeth. They are painless and allow you to easily clip in your aligners. They give the aligners something to gently push on to help apply the correct force in order to move and straighten your teeth. They are barely noticeable and are removed once your treatment is complete.
Interproximal reduction, or IPR, is essentially the process of lightly sanding the sides of specific teeth down by 1/10 of a millimeter at a time to create a little extra room around the tooth. It is only carried out in rare cases and it’s not noticeable or painful, you won’t even need to be numb.
During and After Treatment
Your First Set of Aligners
When you pick up your first set of custom-made trays your orthodontist will check that they fit correctly and give you all the information needed for optimum use, taking care of them and how to put them in and remove them. You will receive anywhere between 18-36 aligners depending on your individual plan.
We will schedule regular check-up appointments, usually once every four to six weeks, to ensure the treatment is going as planned. There will be no adjustments or modifications needed because no wires are used to move your teeth. However, in the rare case the aligners are not working as planned, replacement sets can be ordered.
Day To Day
Your aligners are designed to be worn comfortably for 20-22 hours per day and for best results should be removed only for eating, drinking, brushing, and flossing. You will change to a new set of aligners every one to two weeks, as instructed by your orthodontist. This allows for each set to make tiny adjustments to your teeth, gently shifting and gradually straightening them into place until you achieve your perfect smile.
Thanks to the trays being removable and invisible, throughout the process you will be able to see the development and gradual progress to the improvement in your smile. Some people like to take photos each time they swap out trays since they see their teeth every day, they don’t notice the gradual changes.
What Do They Feel Like?
As each set of aligners is designed to make tiny adjustments, movement is moderately gradual and generally pain-free. As you put on your first set you may notice a little lisp as you speak but this will disappear once you become accustomed to them in your mouth. You can speed this up by practicing speech as much as possible once you have your first set fitted.
With each new set of trays, you may find it a little harder to remove but this will become easier and easier as your aligners loosen up with daily wear. There may be slight tenderness as you swap out each set as your teeth adjust to their new space but due to their thin construction and snug fit, most of the time you will forget they are even there. To help with the adjustment you can use orthodontic chewies, this also massages and promotes blood flow to the gums, helping to relieve any discomfort.
Will They Get in The Way of My Everyday Life?
No, the aligners are practically invisible so most people won’t even realize you’re wearing them. They won’t get in the way of kissing and are wearable whilst participating in most sports unless you’re playing a sport that requires a mouthguard. In this case, you’ll need to remove the aligners for the duration of the activity and then place them back in once you’re done.
Since it is recommended to have your trays in for 22 hours per day it can be beneficial to have a tracking process in place. With only two hours to fit in all your eating, drinking, and dental care for the day, it can be quite easy to lose track of time. By using an app or simple notepad system you can be sure you don’t regularly have them out for more than the recommended two hours.
Am I Restricted in What I Eat or Drink?
Unlike traditional braces, which come with a long list of foods to avoid because food gets stuck, Invisalign works without any restrictions. Remember it is essential to remove trays before eating or drinking anything other than water. Because the liners are removed when you eat or drink, you are free to indulge in any food cravings.
Just remember to always brush and floss your teeth after eating before you put your aligners back in. Otherwise, you risk bacteria, plaque, and food getting in the trays where it is trapped next to your teeth and can cause damage. Smoking is discouraged as it can stain the aligners.
Keeping Your Aligners Clean
Remove your aligners every time you eat or drink anything other than natural, still water. To clean your aligners, Rinse in warm water every night and use a very soft toothbrush and a small amount of toothpaste. You can also purchase special dissolving cleaning tablets. Never use hot water as it could permanently warp the plastic.
What Happens Once Treatment Is Complete?
Once your planned treatment is complete, you will come in for an appointment where we evaluate the final results and check if we need to make any modifications or touch-ups. Once both parties are satisfied, we’ll remove any attachments and congratulate you on your new, perfect smile.
From this point onwards you may need to wear a retainer for the same 22 hour period whilst your teeth re-stabilize. After this, it is recommended to wear a retainer at night to prevent teeth gradually shifting back out of place, as is the case with any orthodontic treatment. Speak with your dentist about the best options for your specific case as everyone is different.
Invisalign can provide patients with a beautiful smile without the pain, embarrassment, and hassle of traditional braces. Here at our practice, we have a team of experts to answer all of your questions and provide professional care. Contact Ragan Orthodontics in Dallas, TX today to schedule an appointment and get started with your treatment.