Many patients looking for a discreet alternative to traditional braces inquire about Invisalign®. Sometimes referred to as “invisible braces,” this type of orthodontic treatment helps correct misaligned teeth and improve a patient’s smile through the use of clear aligners that fit over the teeth. Unlike braces, this treatment does not require the use of metal and can be taken on and off for eating, brushing and other activities. It is important that patients understand how these aligners compare to traditional braces before deciding on either treatment.
Who can wear Invisalign® vs. traditional braces?
While clear aligners can be a good solution for many people, they are not for everyone. Continue reading to learn which patients are potential candidates for this treatment and discover a few considerations to make based on the individual’s age and lifestyle.
Invisible aligners cannot treat all of the same problems that traditional braces can. Generally, aligners can offer the following solutions:
- Straighten crooked teeth
- Address overcrowding issues
- Close small gaps between teeth
- Fix an open bite by bringing the top and bottom teeth together
- Align jaws affected by an overbite, underbite or crossbite
Often, more complex situations will require traditional braces. Limitations of aligners include very large gaps between teeth, severely rotated teeth, intrusion and extrusion, and midline movements larger than 2mm. Additionally, pointed teeth or very short, rounded teeth may not fit well in aligners. Also, patients may not be able to use Invisalign® if crowns, a dental bridge or porcelain veneers are present.
Age and lifestyle considerations
The effectiveness of clear aligners depends greatly on how well the patient complies with the treatment. While it is acceptable to remove aligners every now and then for meals, the teeth can shift if the aligners are off for too long. For this reason, young children and both teenagers and adults who cannot commit to regularly wearing aligners are often better candidates for traditional braces.
What is the treatment process for Invisalign® and braces?
Braces often use wires, brackets, bands and other attachments such as spacers or springs to move teeth into place. This treatment involves an initial installation process and office adjustments every four to six weeks.
Aligners are designed for the patient using 3D technology. Once the personalized set is finished, patients are given approximately 12 sets of aligners that are supposed to be switched out every couple of weeks. Patients need to wear the aligners for at least 22 hours a day. Sometimes attachments are placed on the teeth and patients may be required to wear rubber bands that fit into precut slits on the aligners. Once the set is done, the patient’s mouth is examined and a refinement process may be necessary.
While there are many benefits to Invisalign® such as a better appearance, less discomfort and no food restrictions, traditional braces can be a better solution for some people. The treatment process for aligners is often faster and requires fewer office visits as well. Patients should be responsible enough to commit to wearing the aligners regularly for the desired results.
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