Invisalign – How Do They Work?
Everyone wants to have a straight, beautiful smile, but the prospect of unsightly and uncomfortable braces can be daunting, especially for young people. The idea of headgear and retainers and rubber bands is sometimes enough to send people running from their orthodontist. But fortunately, thanks to new advances in corrective treatments, this image of metal braces has become old-fashioned.
One of the new options that is transforming the way orthodontists are treating patients of all ages is called Invisalign, and today we’ll be talking about what it is, how it works, and why it might be right for you or your family member.
This is all part of our commitment at Jody Jones, DDS, to ensuring that our patients in Midtown Nashville get the most advanced dental and orthodontic treatments available at an affordable price.
What were braces like before Invisalign?
For as long as there have been dentists, people have been looking for successful and convenient methods to straighten teeth. There is evidence from ancient civilizations in Egypt, Greece, and Rome of the use of various straightening techniques such as cord from animal skin or gold wire, none of which would be appealing today.
With the start of modern dentistry in the 1700’s, French dentists and surgeons experimented with a variety of ways to straighten smiles, including elaborate headgear and mouth guards that would wrap all the way around a person’s head. It was also during this period that it was discovered that removing wisdom teeth was one option to avoid the overcrowding of teeth, though I can’t imagine having my teeth pulled during a time before anesthesia was invented.
Although the term braces didn’t get coined until the early 1900’s there was a lot of development in this area in the decades before. This was when the idea of creating a wire crib around a set of teeth to keep them straight was first suggested, as well as the use of elastics to help keep the system properly aligned. The dental dam was also developed in 1864, which was a device that protected the gums while the braces were attached to the teeth. Dentists still use a (much more modern) version of the dental dam today.
The braces that people are probably most familiar with today were developed in the 1970’s. Significant breakthroughs such as the development of stainless steel alloys and dental adhesives made theprospect of braces significantly less painful and damaging to the teeth. New advances also meant that the braces were more effective and the treatments would take less time than previously was necessary to get results.
What is Invisalign and how does it work?/h3>
This all leads us to the invention of the modern tooth-straightening technique known as Invisalign. In the late 1990’s, Zia Chishti, an inventor and entrepreneur with no dentistry background, envisioned a new kind of plastic retainer that not only kept teeth straight but also was able to nudge them into proper alignment. By pairing this idea with transparent materials, Invisalign was born.
Chishti partnered with Kelsey Wirth to incorporate 3D imaging software that can map a person’s mouth in order to produce custom aligners that would gradually align a person’s teeth without being dependent on the tightening of metal wires. The process was tested over the course of three years before reaching the market in 2000.
For the first fitting, a patient may require small composite patches be applied to their teeth that will allow the aligners to grip onto the teeth and produce the desired movement. Another step that may be needed is known as interproximal reduction, which is a process of creating more space between teeth to allow for the impending realignment.
Next, the aligners, which are custom fit to your mouth, are inserted. Over the next weeks and months, you will go through a series of aligners, with each set designed to press the teeth in the desired direction. You will change out your aligners every one to two weeks. Eventually, patients will be pleased to find that their teeth have drifted in the proper direction and the final result will be a beautifully straight smile.
What can patients expect when they get Invisalign?
Initially, patients should expect the aligners to feel strange and perhaps uncomfortable. It will take some time to become used to the apparatus, though compared to traditional braces they should feel like a breeze. It is normal, especially in the first few days, to feel a general aching in the teeth as the aligners do their job. Your teeth may also feel extra sensitive, and it’s possible you may want to use a special toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth.
Another side effect you may experience is a difficulty speaking. This is because the aligners take up space in your mouth and it can take a while for your tongue to get used to their presence.
Patients often want to know about how to keep their Invisalign clean. This is a simple process, but one that should be attended to daily. Your aligners, also known as trays, should be removed each morning and night to be thoroughly cleaned, as well as anytime you brush your teeth during the day. Otherwise, bacteria will build up on the trays that can start to smell, as well as lead to tooth decay.
It is recommended that patients keep their aligners in for 20-22 hours per day. Generally, it’s advisable to keep them on at all times, except for eating and drinking and when brushing your teeth. Depending upon your starting alignment, you should expect to keep your Invisalign aligners for somewhere between 6-18 months, compared to two years for traditional braces.
Invisalign is suitable for nearly everyone, with only a few exceptions. Schedule an appointment today to see if Invisalign is right for you.
Your Nashville, Tennessee Invisalign Specialists
Helping patients to have a straight, attractive smile is one of the most satisfying things we do at Jody Jones, DDS. Our entire staff is dedicated to providing Nashville residents with the most advanced and effective dental treatments available in the region. If you want to learn more about your orthodontic options, contact us today.