The clear alternative to metal braces

Invisalign for Adults and Teens

What do you think of when you hear the word “orthodontics”? Most likely a young teen whose teeth are covered by a metal lattice. There are, in fact, a lot of people who need orthodontic care and fit that description. But Invisalign® clear aligners are becoming more and more popular as an alternative to traditional metal braces.

As the name suggests, Invisalign clear aligners are made of polyurethane plastic that is almost impossible to see. Clear aligners are not cemented or bonded to the teeth like metal or clear braces. Instead, they can be taken off for important social events, eating, and, most importantly, brushing and flossing the teeth. This benefit can also be a drawback, because it can make you want to take your aligners out more often than you should. Here are a few more reasons why the Invisalign system is good choice:

  • Better oral hygiene: If you have an orthodontic appliance that you can take off, it will be much easier to clean your teeth than if you had metal braces.
  • A Discreet Look: If you think your orthodontic treatment is a private matter or if you just don’t like how metal braces make you look, you might like a type of orthodontic treatment that is almost invisible.
  • More Food Options: Some dietary changes are needed to protect metal wires and braces. You can still bite into an apple or a crispy pizza crust while wearing clear aligners.
  • Comfort: Invisalign is made of a soft, flexible material that won’t irritate the soft tissues in the mouth like metal wires and braces can.
  • Teeth-grinding protection: If you have a habit of grinding or clenching your teeth, clear aligners can protect your teeth from excessive wear by acting as thin nightguards.

Clear aligner technology has been improving over the years and can correct many malocclusions that once would have been too complicated for this form of treatment. Yet there are still some situations for which traditional braces would still be best. We would be happy to discuss this in detail with you.

How Invisalign Works

Invisalign clear aligners work the same way as traditional braces, they move teeth into a better position by applying carefully controlled forces to them. But they are not made of metal. Instead, they are made of clear, bendable plastic.

We use specialized computer software to make a plan for moving your teeth from where they are now to where they should be. This movement will happen in maybe a hundred different steps. For each stage, the Invisalign company will make two “trays” or “aligners” out of plastic, one to fit over your top teeth and one to fit over your bottom teeth. You will wear this first set of trays for at least 20 hours a day for two weeks. You will then move on to the next set of aligners in your series to do the next stage of gradual movement. You will do this over and over again until your teeth are in the right place.

In the last few years, two features have been added to Invisalign that make it a better way for teens to straighten their teeth. “Eruption tabs” hold the right amount of space open for molars that haven’t grown in all the way yet. Invisalign for teens also has “compliance indicators” built into the material of the aligners. These indicators fade over time as the aligners are worn. This lets parents, dentists, and the teens themselves make sure the trays are being worn as directed. Only if this is the case can treatment with Invisalign work.

Caring for Your Teeth During Invisalign Treatment

As was already said, one of the best things about the Invisalign system is that the trays can be taken out and cleaned more easily. Don’t forget to do this, please! You’ll need to brush your teeth after every meal or snack so that food and plaque don’t get stuck in the aligners and cause tooth decay and gum disease. Your aligners will also need to be cleaned regularly. Brush them and then rinse them with lukewarm water.

Also, please remember that wearing clear aligners is very different from wearing braces, but it’s just as important to keep your teeth straight after treatment. After your treatment is done, you should make sure to wear your retainer(s) exactly as your dentist tells you to. This will protect your investment in a beautiful new smile.