There is no doubt that Invisalign braces have received a fair bit of media interest in recent years. Most people are aware of the clear brace technology that has made Invisalign a popular cosmetic treatment for straightening teeth. “Invisible braces”– as they are affectionately nicknamed – have certainly found a niche amongst adult patients who prefer a discreet alternative to traditional orthodontics, and they are also catching on with teenagers. Perhaps due to its growing popularity, like many products enjoying a healthy buzz through social media outlets, the Invisalign innovation is shrouded in popular myths and urban legends.
For those of you still undecided about going for an Invisalign treatment, here is a little primer that will hopefully clear a bit of the confusion and provide more details about the modern braces.
Truth 1: The aligners need to stay on your teeth to work
One of the most attractive features of Invisalign braces – they are called aligners – is that they are removable. Unlike traditional wire-and-bracket type of braces, you can remove your aligner during meal times for eating, brushing and flossing. That means you won’t have to avoid certain types of food or clean with caution for fear of loosening or damaging the braces. However, for optimum results, you will need to keep your aligners on for 22 hours or more per day. Failing to wear the mouth-guard-like contraption for a minimum of 20 hours a day may be counterproductive to the treatment. Aligner wearers should be mindful of this during extended meal hours.
Truth 2: You will need to clean your teeth after every meal
Let’s just say a travel toothbrush will become indispensible. You will need to maintain proper oral hygiene to reduce the risk of infections or decay throughout the treatment period. Brushing and flossing needs to be thorough, in order to remove food debris trapped in the crevices and clean those areas where there is contact between teeth and aligners. That’s a lot of brushing so it may be wise to invest in a few travel toothbrushes.
Truth 3: Set realistic expectations
Just because Invisalign is billed as a modern teeth-straightening innovation does not mean it works magic. Invisalign’s recognition as a viable alternative to traditional braces, in terms of aesthetics and comfort, does not diminish the fact that teeth straightening takes time. Although the average treatment times for Invisalign are shorter as compared to traditional orthodontic treatment, you will still need to set realistic expectations. Some Invisalign patients are surprised to learn of the need for “finishing aligners” on the last day of completing their supposed treatment. These are actually post-treatment retainers that are worn during sleep to maintain your corrected teeth in the right position. The orthodontic appliance is being used on a case-by case basis.
Truth 4: The treatment is not painful (for most)
More than half of Invisalign users (54%) surveyed said they experienced only mild pain during the treatment, while 35% did not experience any discomfort wearing the aligners.1Among those who experienced some form of discomfort, said it usually occurred when switching to a new set of aligners. This sensation usually subsided within 2 to 3 days. The discomfort experienced in the initial days of wearing a new set of aligners may be attributed to pressure that is needed to realign the teeth. The good news is, you will get used to this feeling – what most of the evaluated patients considered as mild pain – when the teeth begin to shift and conform.
Truth 5: Invisalign is not for everyone.
Invisalign can treat most of the common orthodontic problems such as crowded teeth, overbites/ underbites or gaps. However, removable brace systems like Invisalign have certain limitations and are not considered the best solution for handling complex orthodontic cases such as severe deep overbites or severely rotated teeth. As such, Invisalign is typically recommended to treat mild to moderate cases of malocclusions, although it is also used to treat some severe cases. To check whether you would make a good candidate for Invisalign, you may use the Invisalign’s Smile Assessment. You should also talk to an Invisalign dentist to get a better idea about your suitability, related costs and what to expect for the treatment.
Truth 6: Stain-causing beverages are a no-no
There is a two-pronged reason why Invisalign users would need to cut down on their morning coffees: First, they will stain your aligner; and second, they will use up your allotted time for removing the oral device. The same principle goes for red wine and tea. If you do happen to drink – not indulge in – these beverages, don’t forget to use the limited allotted time to brush your teeth before putting the aligners back on.
Truth 7: Do not clean your aligners with toothpaste
The aligners may be worn over your teeth but do not brush them with toothpaste. The abrasive ingredients found in toothpastes can cause bacteria build-up and leave a bad smell. Instead, clean your aligners with soap or mild detergent. Failing to do so will result in a yellowish and murky appearance, which probably isn’t the look you’re going for when you decided on a clear brace treatment.
Truth 8: Accidental weight loss may be a bonus
If you happen to be on a slimming program, the Invisalign treatment may give you a nudge or two in the same direction. After all, the aligner-wearing routine would force you to eat within allotted meal times and avoid snacking in-between. The hassle of removing the aligner just to eat a chocolate wafer or a slice of cake would prevent your intake of those needless calories. When the bathroom scale starts to tip in your favour, you may have a dubious, but effective, method to thank for.
Truth 9: The aligners are virtually invisible
Of course they are not invisible, invisible. Still, they appear invisible for all intents and purposes of the innovation – that is, others won’t notice them in your mouth, even when they are looking directly at you. Put it this way, Invisalign has been around for some time now. I doubt, however, that you have ever noticed anyone wearing the clear braces? Conversely, I am sure you remember the last person you saw wearing traditional metal braces. That alone underlines the effectiveness of the clear brace technology that Invisalign offers.
Truth 10: Not all Invisalign dentists offer the same results
For all the technological advancements and R&D investments that spawned it, the Invisalign system demands careful diagnosis and treatment planning to work effectively. Invisalign care, therefore is not necessarily the same from one dentist to another. The dentist’s experience, knowledge and expertise working with the Invisalign system is imperative to a successful outcome. Do your homework and ask around before you settle on the invisalign dentist to provide you the best solution for your specific case.