If you’ve been living with the common regret of not having worn braces when you were younger, modern dentistry has a surprise in store for you. What if we told you that you could correct your teeth discretely and without any metal?
What is Invisalign® Therapy?
Invisalign® therapy represents a whole new way of thinking about alignment correction. While traditional braces are effective, they do offer some drawbacks and are apparent on the teeth at all times. By taking advantage of the ability of the human tooth to respond to pressure, Invisalign® achieves alignment by exerting consistent pressure and making smaller adjustments over time. This is achieved through the use of aligners which are formed of clear plastic that are precision-fit to your mouth. These clear aligners are worn over the upper and lower gums and slight changes in fit guide the teeth into alignment over time. Sound too good to be true? That’s because no metal doesn’t mean no commitment – there are a few things to keep in mind when considering aligner therapy.
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Life with Invisalign® Aligners
Invisalign® is best suited to patients who have mild and moderate alignment challenges, while complex alignment concerns typically require traditional metal braces. Those who undergo this therapy should understand that in order for the treatment to work, pressure should be constant. For that reason, aligners should be worn throughout the day and the night, except when eating or cleaning the teeth, and should be changed based on your dentist’s recommendations (every 2-3 weeks). You will receive between 20 and 30 aligners when you receive your kit. Aim for 22 hours or more of wear per day and be prepared to make adjustments to your diet if you are a snacker or a sipper of coffee or soft drinks. (More on this below).
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Developing a Routine
When you begin Invisalign® therapy, your dentist will ensure that you understand the importance of brushing and flossing after each meal. This is because your aligners will fit your teeth so perfectly that any debris or acid that is trapped between the aligner and the enamel will not have a way out. The consequences in terms of cavities and gingivitis are not worth the risk – always brush your teeth at a minimum before placing the aligners back over the teeth, and always put the aligners in their case when you are eating in order to avoid losing or breaking them.
One of the greatest advantages of Invisalign® is its indifference to your diet. That means that when you are using aligners you do not have to abstain from foods like gummy candies and popcorn – your diet is fully under your control. The major concern around diet is around when you eat rather than what. For example, if you want to drink a soda you may do so – but with aligners removed. It is best to limit your enjoyment of this beverage to mealtimes rather than sipping throughout the day. The first reason is that you’d have to have your aligners out for a prolonged period of time (not recommended), and the second is that if you decided to keep your aligners in, you put the health of your mouth in jeopardy and risk staining your aligners.
In the same way, snacking throughout the day often becomes an unsustainable habit when you need to brush your teeth every time you eat or drink anything other than water. Consequently, many Invisalign® patients change their snacking habits and reap the inherent health benefits as a result.
The Right Fit
Success with Invisalign® therapy relies, in large part, on a snug fit. Without properly fit aligners, the specific directed pressure needed to move teeth will not be possible. In order to ensure that your aligners fit correctly they should be removed from the mouth when drinking warm beverages. The heat will allow your aligners to warp and defeat their intended purpose. Similarly, eating with aligners in is likely to cause variations in fit due to the bite force they sustain when chewing.
Finally, patients with signs of nighttime clenching or grinding the teeth will likely be advised against Invisalign® therapy. Unconscious grinding is not only not good for your teeth, but it is likely to break aligners. Invisalign® therapy may require the use of a retainer following your period of daily aligner wear, so resolving any signs of bruxism (grinding) is important before beginning your aligner journey.
Getting started is as easy as seeing your dentist for a consult and a 3D scan of your teeth, which can be done in a matter of minutes. These images provide all the information required by the lab to make your custom appliances and allows you to see a digital representation of the potential results at the end of treatment.
If you have questions about this or other services offered by our general dentist, contact our clinic today.
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