Clear Aligners (Invisalign): The Transparent Alternative to Traditional Braces

Clear aligners are a revolutionary orthodontic treatment that uses clear, removable aligners to straighten teeth. The most popular clear aligner treatment is the Invisalign treatment. Unlike traditional braces, clear aligners are virtually invisible and can be removed for eating, brushing and flossing. This makes them a popular choice for adults and teenagers who want to improve their smile without the aesthetic and practical disadvantages of metal braces.

What is Clear Aligner (Invisalign) Treatment?

Invisalign clear treatment is a digital orthodontic procedure shortly known as Invisalign. It is used to align teeth without the use of braces. A series of clear braces are made specifically for your teeth to cover and gradually move them into the right position. They are not as noticeable as traditional braces, and they can be taken on and off.

(Clear aligner treatment and Invisalign treatment will be used interchangeably.)

Who can undergo clear aligner treatment, and is there an age limit?

Clear aligner treatment can be applied to individuals with healthy dental surrounding tissues, there is no specific age limit. It can be performed on adults, as well as children starting from the age of 6-7.

Can clear aligner treatment be applied to patients with dental implants? Can it be used for patients who have had previous dental procedures?

Dental implants are fused with the bone and cannot be moved within the bone like natural teeth. In treatment planning, if it is intended to keep dental implants immobilized and avoid applying force to them, clear aligner treatment can be used for patients with dental implants. There is no contraindication for patients who have previously received fillings or root canal treatments to undergo clear aligner treatment.

What Can Invisalign Fix?

Invisalign can be used to fix crowded teeth, open bites, underbites, overbites, closed bites, crossbites, and widely spaced teeth.

Can clear aligner treatment be used for patients with severe misalignment of their teeth?

Clear aligner treatment can yield good results for patients with severe crowded teeth. In fact, for patients who are planning to have permanent tooth extractions due to excessive crowding, clear aligner treatment can be an alternative to traditional braces.

How Does the Invisalign Treatment Process Work?

Before beginning the treatment, all cavities and dental tartar should be cleaned. We start with a traditional examination and X-ray process, followed by creating a 3D model (impression) of your teeth to establish a personalized treatment plan. Your treatment plan, along with intraoral scans, X-rays, and photographs, is shared with the aligner manufacturing company. A digital treatment simulation, customized for you, is created, and presented for approval by your orthodontist.

After the simulation is reviewed by your doctor, necessary adjustments are made. Once the simulation is finalized, the number of aligners required for the treatment and the estimated duration are determined. The treatment duration and the number of aligners can vary from person to person depending on their initial dental issues. Your orthodontist may share the treatment plan simulation with you before giving approval, allowing you to discuss whether your expectations will be met with your doctor.

Once the final treatment simulation is approved by your orthodontist, the aligners are manufactured. The aligners typically reach your doctor's office within 3-4 weeks. In the initial appointment, attachments are placed and interproximal reduction (stripping) may be performed if recommended by your doctor. Your doctor will provide you with the required number of aligners.

The follow-up appointments for clear aligners have longer intervals compared to traditional braces, often requiring check-ups every 2-3 months. To support patients during the aligner process, the My Invisalign application can be used to remind patients of aligner change schedules, track their aligner-wearing time, inform the doctor about their progress, and keep track of upcoming appointments.

Intermediate progress photos can be shared with your doctor, family, and friends, allowing your doctor to monitor your progress and provide feedback on how your treatment is progressing.

In some cases, follow-up appointments for clear aligner treatment can be conducted virtually through the Invisalign Virtual Care feature. This feature allows orthodontists to remotely monitor their patients' Invisalign treatments. The My Invisalign app enables patients to capture progress photos from their mobile devices. When a patient sends photos after aligner changes, the doctor can review them on the Invisalign Virtual Care page to assess whether the treatment is progressing according to the plan and provide necessary instructions. When a live interaction is needed for discussing treatment-related matters, a video call can be scheduled through the Invisalign Virtual Care page, or the patient can be instructed to set up an in-person appointment. This allows orthodontists to manage Invisalign treatments for patients living in different countries.

What should patients be mindful of during clear aligner treatment? Are there any restrictions?

Patients should adhere to the recommended aligner change schedule and avoid changing aligners prematurely. The daily wear time should not fall below 20-21 hours. While wearing aligners, it is important not to consume hot beverages or eat meals. However, aligners can be removed for eating and drinking, and there are no specific dietary restrictions during this time.

How Do You Care for Your Invisalign?

You can clean your aligners every morning and evening by brushing them under running warm water. In addition, you can maintain your aligners with denture cleaning tablets and cleaning gel.

How Long Will You Wear Your Invisalign?

As it is a customized treatment, it solely depends on your teeth and how well you can wear the Invisalign. Only your doctor can tell you the estimated duration of your treatment.

Why Invisalign is More Advantageous from Traditional Braces?

They are clear in color so; most people won’t notice you’re wearing them. The movement of your teeth is more precise with Invisalign than with traditional braces. It’s easier to maintain good oral health with Invisalign. These aligners are much more comfortable than braces, they don’t irritate your teeth or gums. Invisalign requires fewer check-ups than traditional braces so; they are more time-saving. In addition, in transparent aligner treatment, it is possible to predict the final position of your teeth at the beginning of the treatment. Allowing patients to visualize the expected outcome from the start can be a source of motivation throughout their treatment.

Can every dentist perform Invisalign treatment?

 An orthodontist must perform Invisalign treatment. Also, the orthodontist must obtain an Invisalign certification.

What happens after the active treatment process is completed?

After the active treatment is finished, the next step is typically the retention phase, which aims to maintain the positions of the teeth and prevent them from shifting back. Retention can be achieved using either retention appliances or lingual retainers. During this phase, doctor check-ups may be scheduled every six months.

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