Everyone dreams of having a perfect smile. Unfortunately, a few crooked, crowded, or gapping teeth can affect your confidence. More than that, misaligned teeth can also put people at risk of very serious dental issues like tooth decay, gum disease, and jaw pain.
If your dentist has recently recommended that you or your teen consider options for better aligning your teeth, you may be wondering, Options? I thought there were only metal braces?! In 1997, Zia Chishti invented a method that is now known as Invisalign. It has since revolutionized the orthodontic world with a less invasive, barely noticeable alternative for improving their smiles.
What Is Invisalign, And How Does It Work?
Invisalign is a system of clear plastic aligner trays used over a determined period to help straighten teeth. Based on a schedule decided by your dentist, you’ll upgrade to a new tray that slightly moves the position of your teeth to the desired position over time. To make the aligners, your dentist first creates a virtual impression of your teeth by utilizing advanced 3D computer-imaging technology. After the virtual image is completed, your dentist will be able to show you a comparison of what your teeth look like now and what they will look like after the Invisalign treatment. Using the model, your dentist will either print the aligners in-house or order them. Throughout treatment, you will visit your dentist so they can monitor your progress.
What Should You Know Before Getting Invisalign?
Suppose you have only heard the name Invisalign before and are a little curious to learn more about it; good for you. It’s vital to do your research before making a significant decision like adjusting your teeth. We’d be happy to help provide information and answers to your questions. Below are a few key things we like to educate our Invisalign candidate patients about before they proceed. If you are deciding whether Invisalign makes sense for you or your teen, consider the following:
Invisalign Works In Less Time Than Braces
Invisalign results are seen quicker than those who choose the traditional route of metal braces for a typical patient. Invisalign saves a lot of time, including what is typically spent going to dental appointments to adjust braces! On average, a course of adjusting your teeth with Invisalign lasts about 6-18 months.
Invisalign is Discreet
If your teen is reluctant to wear metal braces for fear of being bullied, or you’re embarrassed to be seen in them as an adult with a professional career—fear not! Invisalign is a suitable alternative for many people in all sorts of chapters of their life. It is hard to detect, due to expert fitting, so people often don’t realize you are wearing anything. Many patients slowly build more confidence while wearing Invisalign, knowing their teeth are becoming more straight while being undetected by others.
Who is a Good Candidate for Invisalign?
Candidates for Invisalign come from a broad spectrum of the population. While there have been patients in their 80’s who’ve reaped the benefits of Invisalign, it is most typical that candidates are teens or adults. Satisfaction rates with Invisalign are very high at about 96%.
One of the most significant determinants of whether or not someone is an ideal Invisalign candidate is as much about whether they will wear their aligners as recommended as it is about anything else! Taking them out for too long can defeat the purpose. Aligner trays should be worn for at least 22 hours a day.
It is essential to know that Invisalign is recommended for people with mild to moderate issues such as underbites, overbites, gaps between teeth, and crowding. People with more severe cases can benefit from other options and may need teeth pulled. The best way to understand if you are a candidate is to schedule an Invisalign consultation with your dentist.
What Are the Benefits of Invisalign?
Invisalign is a viable method for aligning teeth and improving bites. Many patients prefer the clear aligner trays over metal braces due to Invisalign being:
- Nearly invisible to the eye
- More comfortable than sharp braces, which can cut up your cheeks
- Able to provide faster results than traditional braces
- Easy to upgrade to your next aligner tray at home and possibility minimizing visits to your dentist
- Removable for short periods, allowing you to:
- Eat more easily
- Smile more naturally for photos being taken
- Brush your teeth more thoroughly (this eliminates the risk of discolored squares on your teeth that braces can sometimes lead to)
- Clean your aligner trays meticulously and prevent cavities
What Should You Know While Wearing Invisalign?
Once you’ve started using Invisalign, you’ll find that the maintenance is very manageable. Your dentist will provide you with information on how to continue your oral healthcare and best practices for your aligner trays. The following is imperative to having a successful treatment and taking care of your teeth during Invisalign:
Continue to Floss, Brush, and Rinse
It is important to remember that your teeth still need good, healthy care while wearing Invisalign. Twice a day or after each meal or snack, brush and floss your teeth to help remove debris and plaque. You likely won't have access to a toothbrush and your cleaning system at all times, of course. In these cases, just do your best to rinse your mouth with water and clean the trays by rinsing them with running water.
Change Trays When Recommended
For Invisalign to achieve the results you and your dentist are hoping for, it is essential to change to the next set of trays as instructed. Each set plays a critical part in helping you reach your treatment goal. If you wear your aligners for the recommended time each day and change them as needed, success is within easy reach.
Do Not Return to an Old Tray
Life may take an unexpected turn and prevent you from using your current tray. It may become damaged, lost, or stolen by the family dog. You may be tempted to return to using your aligner from a previous stage, but it is vital that you immediately contact your dentist first.
Your provider will likely order a replacement tray. In the meantime, you may be asked to begin using the next aligner, the previous aligner, or take some other course of action.
Clean Trays As Instructed
Your Invisalign trays are exposed to food and bacteria in your mouth regularly. They must be kept clean and sanitary using the procedure described by your dentist to ensure healthy results.
You may be instructed to use toothpaste, water, and a soft-bristle toothbrush daily, and perhaps use Invisalign cleaning products weekly. Do not use denture cleaners or soak the trays in mouthwash unless recommended by your dentist. Mouthwash may dull the trays and make them more visible.
Remove Aligners Before Eating and Teeth Cleaning
Your trays are designed for a good, tight fit. Before consuming food, remove the aligners and set them aside on a clean surface. Otherwise, food debris may become lodged between the trays and teeth and cause problems with both alignment and overall dental health. Remember to clean the trays as thoroughly as possible after eating.
Do Not Remove Aligners for More Than Two Hours Daily
For your Invisalign trays to work correctly, you must wear them between 20 and 22 hours each day. Please do not remove them for more extended periods of time. You will not achieve the results for which you and your dentist are planning.
Can Straightening Your Teeth with Invisalign Improve Your Health?
Straightening your teeth with Invisalign is an excellent option for anybody looking to fix their smile, but did you also know that having straighter teeth can help with your overall health? The ADA has reported that having straight teeth can reduce heart disease, stroke, and diabetes risk.
How Does Having Straight Teeth Impact Your Overall Health?
The simple answer is that straight teeth are much easier to keep clean than crooked teeth. When a person has misaligned teeth, it becomes harder to remove plaque and bacteria buildup, leading to gum infections and disease. By straightening your teeth with Invisalign, you will have healthier gums, improved hygiene, and less wear on your teeth because you will be able to brush and floss easier around your teeth and reduce the stress on your jawbone and joints.
How do Misaligned Teeth Impact Your Overall Health?
The problem with misaligned teeth goes way beyond just a cosmetic issue, poorly aligned teeth can cause the following issues in just your mouth:
- Receding gum
- Gum disease
- Indentations at the gum line
- Cold sensitivity
- Chipped or fractured teeth
- Tooth loss
What Happens if Misaligned Teeth Are Left Untreated?
Heart Disease and Stroke
When bacteria invade gums and cause disease, they may slip into the bloodstream and flow away to blood vessels at other locations in the body. These invaders can trigger damage and inflammation within the vessels, and small blood clots may appear, leading to stroke or a heart attack.
Some research indicates people with severe periodontitis (disease affecting gums and bone around the teeth) had a 4.3-times-higher risk of stroke than people with mild or no periodontitis.
There have been cases in which oral bacteria remnants have been discovered within damaged blood vessels that are not located near the mouth. Ironically, the body's own immune response can launch inflammation intended to fight the invaders but may wind up damaging vessels in the process.
For those who have diabetes, the condition can worsen gum disease. Diabetes can trigger dry mouth, weakened white blood cells needed by the immune system, and thickened blood vessels which slow healthy blood flow.
On the other hand, gum disease can increase your chances of worsening diabetes or developing it in the first place. Studies have shown that bacterial infections appear to change a patient's metabolism in a way that causes difficulty in regulating blood sugar.
Unfortunately, gum disease may lead to certain types of bacteria multiplying in the mouth and traveling to the lungs, where they become involved with the development of lung cancer. Other kinds of bacteria have the bad habit of reaching the lungs and causing bronchitis or pneumonia.
Both the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) and the European Federation of Periodontology (EFP) advise pregnant women to maintain good oral health during pregnancy. Gum disease can cause problems during this time, including premature babies and infants with low birth weight.
Children born with a weight under 5.5 pounds may suffer from delayed social growth and motor skills, learning disabilities, respiratory problems, hearing and vision challenges, and other troubling issues.
While it is not the only thing that you need to do to lead a healthier life, having straight teeth and practicing proper dental hygiene can help eliminate the bacteria that form in your mouth and prevent it from entering the rest of your body. Invisalign can help you quickly and discreetly take that first step toward living a happier, healthier life.