What is Invisalign&Reg;?

Mary McMahon

Invisalign® is an orthodontic product designed to be used in straightening and aligning the teeth. It consists of a set of clear plastic aligners worn for two weeks at a time and changed at the end of each session. Each set of aligners exerts gentle force on the teeth to pull them into position. These devices are an alternative to metal braces and other dental devices and there are several advantages to using Invisalign® for teeth straightening.

Invisalign trays are removed in order to perform regular dental hygiene.
Invisalign trays are removed in order to perform regular dental hygiene.

As the name implies, these dental fixtures are designed to be as close to invisible as possible. Some patients don't like wearing braces and similar devices because of the high visibility, and may be more capable of completing a tooth straightening plan with the use of Invisalign®. These devices have soft edges and are intended to reduce the risks of damage to the teeth and gums associated with other dental appliances.

There are several advantages to using Invisalign for teeth straightening.
There are several advantages to using Invisalign for teeth straightening.

In addition, the aligners are removed for eating, drinking, and dental hygiene. This allows patients to eat an unrestricted diet and promotes better oral health. A common problem with devices like braces is the development of plaque and tartar in spaces the patient cannot comfortably reach, even with a specially designed toothbrush. Patients can also remove their aligners for special occasions if they feel self-conscious.

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Typically, when patients first start using Invisalign® aligners, they may experience some lisping and difficulty speaking while they adjust to wearing the aligners. Patients with a history of speech problems may want to discuss aligners with their speech-language pathologists before they start wearing them.

Patients need to see a provider who has received special training in fitting and using Invisalign® devices. The dentist will take impressions of the teeth and digitize them to develop a treatment plan and show the patient the end goal. Once the patient approves, sets of aligners can be ordered. Each new set represents an adjustment, allowing for very gradual changes in pressure on the teeth to reduce some of the pain and discomfort associated with wearing orthodontic appliances.

Cost of treatment with Invisalign® tends to be higher than other types of orthodontic treatment, and may not be covered by all dental insurance providers. Patients may want to meet with several orthodontists to discuss options for teeth straightening, get information about the general costs associated with different treatments, and find out about the risks and benefits of each kind of treatment available.

A dental impression is made to fit Invisalign braces.
A dental impression is made to fit Invisalign braces.

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