Invisalign® produces aligners that are more comfortable and less noticeable than the conventional dental braces of the past. Striving to provide patients with improved smiles but without the hassle of metal braces, the company uses clear aligners that are placed directly over the teeth, and they can shift teeth in the necessary directions for the desired effect. The aligners were approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the late 1990s and have grown in use due to the level of comfort and improved results they provide patients.
The importance of Invisalign® aligners
The aligners used for treatment are made of an FDA-approved thermoplastic called SmartTrack®. Using 3-D technology, a dentist can recreate a patient’s mouth and adjust the teeth within the program to find the proper tooth alignment for the specific patient. Since the aligners are custom-fit, wearing them for the required amount of time and properly caring for the aligners is important.
How long are aligners worn?
Doctors recommend wearing the aligners for the majority of the day, which might be anywhere from 20 to 22 hours. The constant contact time allows the aligners to gradually shift the teeth just like the wires and brackets on traditional braces. They can be removed when brushing the teeth, drinking or eating. Rechecks are typically performed every one to two weeks, and the aligners may be changed at that time, depending on how well the teeth are shifting. While results may be seen within weeks of starting the process, Invisalign® treatment can last 12 to 18 months overall.
What if aligners are not worn correctly?
The aligners should be worn as recommended by the provider to work effectively. Without the custom fit of the aligners, the pressure is not applied to the teeth, and they will not shift into place as planned before initiating treatment. By wearing them incorrectly, a patient may delay the implementation of the next set of aligners, and this can increase the overall time necessary for treatment. In some cases, the dentist may need to readjust the treatment plan, leading to more cost and more dental visits for the patient.
How are aligners maintained between visits?
To decrease bad breath and bacteria buildup, teeth should be brushed before aligners are placed back inside the mouth, even after meals or snacks. To clean the aligners, the doctor may recommend the Invisalign Cleaning System® that is created for the aligners. However, proper cleaning can also be accomplished with a soft-bristle toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste. Be aware that lukewarm water is preferable when cleaning the aligners because hot water will cause the plastic to morph in shape. If this occurs, the aligner will not fit properly inside the mouth, and a new one may have to be created by the dentist.
Invisalign® uses computer technology to produce aligners that can help improve a patient’s smile. By following the recommendations of the doctor and making sure to treat the aligners with care, patients may find themselves with their desired smile in just over a year’s time.
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