Invisalign 101: Beginner’s Guide

What Is Orthodontics? What Age Should My Child See an Orthodontist?

In spite of some pretty fantastic advances in orthodontics in recent years, many patients still react to the news that they need braces with dismay. Unfortunately, traditional metal braces have a reputation for being bulky, awkward, and obvious that’s been hard to shake. Although they are more comfortable and far subtler than they’ve ever been before, many teens and adults are still on the fence about them. The good news is there’s another option for straightening teeth and giving you the smile, you desire!

Invisalign is a clear aligner system that offers you an easy and unobtrusive alternative to traditional braces. It gives you the same results without all the metal, wires, and brackets. This makes them especially attractive to teens and adults who would prefer to avoid the appearance of traditional braces, and also keep their lifestyle as uninhibited as possible during orthodontic treatment. It’s a great choice for any patient looking for something subtle and versatile, but what exactly is it, and how does it work? Our team here at Creative Dentistry of Brooklyn Heights has put together a handy guide to Invisalign 101 for you. Keep reading to find out more!

WHAT IS THE INVISALIGN SYSTEM?

Invisalign uses a series of clear, removable plastic trays, or aligners, to give you a healthier, straighter smile without being visible. The design is deceptively simple, and when you see the aligners, you may wonder how they could ever achieve the same results as metal braces! In reality, these trays are made of a special type of thermoplastic resin that’s strong enough to move your teeth into alignment. This movement relies on a sequence of custom-made aligners being switched out at custom intervals during treatment.

HOW DOES INVISALIGN WORK?

Your first step is an initial consultation. Creative Dentistry of Brooklyn Heights is happy to offer this ! During this appointment, we’ll discuss your orthodontic needs and decide whether Invisalign is the right treatment choice for you. Once we determine you’re a good fit for the system, we begin the process of custom designing aligners specific to your smile.

A highly detailed 3D scan of your teeth and gums will be performed in our office.  This scan is then used to map out a precise treatment plan for you. This plan will include the exact movements we want your teeth to make, as well as how long your treatment is likely to take. You may even get the chance to preview your new smile!

From this 3D scan, your custom aligners will be created from Invisalign’s special SmartTrack® material. The comfortable plastic trays are virtually invisible, and the total number worn during treatment is usually somewhere between 10 and 48, with the total treatment time averaging between 5 and 15 months. In order to maximize their effectiveness, you’ll need to wear the aligners for 20-22 hours daily, throughout the course of treatment.

During treatment, you will switch to a new set of aligners every one to three weeks based on your treatment plan.  We will schedule check-ups with our conveniently located office about every four to eight weeks.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF INVISALIGN OVER TRADITIONAL ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT?

Invisalign is a more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing solution than traditional metal braces, but the benefits extend beyond that!

Because the aligners are removable, there are no restrictions to diet or activity. Most people who have worn metal braces will tell you that having to forego some of their favorite foods while undergoing treatment was one of the hardest parts of having them. Because of the wires and brackets, patients must steer clear of any treats that are chewy, sticky, crunchy, or hard. No apples or carrots, popcorn or chips, and most candy is off the table, too. This can often make social situations difficult, since so many of them are centered around food. But Invisalign aligners are removable, not fixed. You take them out anytime you want to eat or drink anything other than water, meaning no food restrictions and a whole lot more fun!

Removable aligners also make a difference to your oral hygiene routine. It’s important to pay special attention to your dental hygiene all the time, but especially when undergoing orthodontic treatment. Unfortunately, the wires, brackets, and bands that accompany traditional braces can make brushing and flossing effectively a difficult or time-consuming task. With Invisalign, aligners are simply taken out before brushing and flossing. Cleaning them is a snap, as well – there are special kits designed specifically to clean Invisalign aligners, or you can gently clean them using denture crystals and a soft toothbrush.

Last, but definitely not least, removable aligners can be a huge bonus when you’re playing a contact sport (you can remove your Invisalign aligner and wear a regular mouthguard) or an instrument (no wires or brackets to get in the way), or even just on those special occasions where you want your natural smile to be the only thing shining through (weddings, prom, homecoming, senior pictures, etc.)

WHO ARE THE BEST CANDIDATES FOR INVISALIGN?

Invisalign is created for use on most adult and teen patients with common orthodontic issues. However, there are certain, more complicated cases which require more precise tooth control than a removable aligner can achieve. During your initial complimentary consultation with Creative Dentistry of Brooklyn Heights, we’ll be able to determine if Invisalign is a good fit for you, or if you’d be better served by more traditional orthodontic treatment.

WHAT HAPPENS ONCE INVISALIGN TREATMENT IS COMPLETE?

Our teeth retain memories of their previous place in our mouths and have a tendency to drift back to their original positions over time. This is why it’s important to retain their new positions after any form of orthodontic treatment, including Invisalign. Once your treatment process is complete, we’ll provide you with retainers that will need to be worn as directed in order to maintain your new, straighter smile.

Your First Visit

During your first visit your dentist will attach “composite Buttons” on your teeth. These buttons are necessary to help the Invisalign trays apply specific forces to move your teeth more effectively. They are made from the same substance your dentist uses to fill your teeth.

In some cases, your dentist may need to reshape the enamel between your teeth using discs or small sandpaper strips. This procedure is called “interproximal reduction” and the purpose is to create more space for your teeth.

Finally, after all that work, you’ll get fitted for your first set of Invisalign trays. They’ll probably feel very tight when snapped over your teeth and you’ll have difficulty removing them. Once your dentist has determined the correct fit for your teeth, you’ll be provided a few trays since the Invisalign’s need to be replaced every week or two. Previously it was recommended that trays be changed about every two weeks, but the current recommendation is to replace every week.

Sensitivity

You’ll naturally feel some discomfort and soreness for a few days. This is only temporary and you’ll back to normal with time.

Each time you change the trays, expect some discomfort and sensitivity. Eventually your teeth will become less sore each time you need to replace the trays.

Since you will have a new object in your mouth, your tongue will need to find a new position, therefore speaking can be more difficult for a few weeks! Talking to yourself is now a good idea, it can help you loosen your tongue so you can get used to speaking normal again.

Wearing your Trays

If you don’t wear the trays long enough you could cause a setback in your progress. It’s okay to take them off to eat or brush your teeth but be sure to put them right back in for best results. At minimum, you should wear them 22 hours each day.

Complications

Sometimes, but not often, there are complications with Invisalign treatments.  However, these are easily fixed.

1.     Some people may be allergic to the tray material

2.     If you’re too rough with the trays, they can break

3.     You may accidentally throw your trays in the trash

4.     Some people experience jaw pain or TMJ

5.     Speaking is sometimes a problem, especially in the first few weeks

6.     Your teeth become sensitive

7.     Extra trays or extra time is needed if your teeth movement is slower than expected

Cleaning Invisalign Trays

Invisalign trays should be rinsed out with water before you reinsert them. If you prefer, they can be cleaned with regular dish soap, or even brushed with your toothbrush. If you use your toothbrush don’t add toothpaste because it can cause scratching to the surface and cause more build-up or staining.

Teeth Care and Invisalign Trays

Since sugar can get stuck in the trays and cause decay of your teeth, you should avoid sugary foods and drinks.

Be sure you floss and brush your teeth more often than usual.

Stains can set in your trays causing your teeth to stain, therefore, you should abstain from food and drinks that have dark coloring such as coffee, dark tea, dark sodas or red wine.

Always carry a toothbrush with you to avoid developing cavities and remember to brush your teeth before you reinsert the trays.

Whitening Your Teeth

Now’s the time you can easily whiten your teeth! Since the trays seal tight against your teeth, you can simply put a small amount of whitening gel in the tray and let it on for about 30 minutes each day until your teeth are the white color you want. There are various concentrations available so do your research.

Who Can Use Invisalign?

Most orthodontic cases can be treated with Invisalign. Look for an experienced orthodontist for advice. Keep in mind that Invisalign can be used at any age even after retirement if your teeth begin to move! Some younger children with impacted teeth and those with severe jaw problems may not be an Invisalign candidate.

Always discuss your concerns with your dentist. Follow his or her advice to achieve the results for a bright, happy, and healthy smile.

INVISALIGN WITH CREATIVE DENTISTRY OF BROOKLYN HEIGHTS

Invisalign is changing the way people view orthodontic treatment, and we’re proud to be a certified Invisalign provider offering this technology to our braces patients in Brooklyn Heights and the surrounding areas. If you are interested in learning more about Invisalign and what it can do for you, why not get in touch with our friendly team today and schedule your complimentary consultation? With a customized approach to care, and cutting-edge techniques and technology, Creative Dentistry of Brooklyn Heights is ready to help you put your best face forward. With Invisalign, we can help you achieve the smile of your dreams! Creative Dentistry of Brooklyn Heights is a proud provider of Invisalign® services.

Developed in 1997, Invisalign is a thoroughly modern alternative to braces. Based on the latest 3-D digital imaging technology, we will design your ideal smile, and then provide you with a set of custom aligners to make your new smile a reality. Made from comfortable, nearly invisible clear plastic, the aligners have no metal or wires. All you need to do is change aligners every two weeks for a gentle, gradual shift that does not interfere with your daily life. Because the aligners are removable, you don’t even need to give up your favorite foods! Just remove the aligner before eating such braces-unfriendly foods as popcorn or apples. Then brush your teeth and put the aligner back in.

Call us at 718-875-9424 to schedule your appointment.