Do you have spaces in between your teeth that make you feel self-conscious? Maybe you notice that your teeth are crowded and crooked, making it hard to clean. Having teeth that aren’t straight can negatively affect your self-confidence and your dental health. If you want to straighten your teeth, no doubt you’ve heard of the popular clear aligners called Invisalign. Here at Davis Orthodontics in San Diego, CA, this revolutionary orthodontic treatment is a popular choice for teens and adults alike for an easy, aesthetic, non-invasive way to straighten teeth.
If you are new to Invisalign and are considering choosing it over traditional braces, then you may wonder if you are a candidate. In this article, we will detail who qualifies as a candidate for treatment. We’ll also outline basic principles of how it works, what you can expect after you start your treatment, and why it is beneficial to, not only your looks, but your dental health as well.
What Is Invisalign?
Invisalign is an orthodontic technology that straightens and moves teeth into their ideal tooth positions by means of a series of clear plastic trays called aligners. These aligners exert forces on the teeth to shift, tilt, and rotate multiple teeth simultaneously. This allows them to correct any improper tooth placements and improve overall oral health.
Conditions It Treats
There are many tooth conditions that it can fix thanks to its innovative technology, such as:
- Improperly rotated teeth
- Crowded teeth
- Gapped teeth
- Mild to moderate overbite
- Mild to moderate underbite
- Mild to moderate crossbite
- Tipped teeth
- Improperly positioned teeth
- Misaligned teeth
Who Is a Candidate for Invisalign?
This technology has progressed in leaps and bound since its start over ten years ago, allowing it to fit a much broader audience of people. However, there are still some contraindications for candidacy.
Who Is a Candidate
- Adults and older teenagers with mild-to-moderate tooth misalignment
- Compliant users
Who Is Not a Candidate
Some individuals who may not qualify as a candidate include:
- Young Teenagers
- Persons with severe crossbite/underbite/overbite
- Persons who need advanced jaw movements
- Non-compliant users
How Does It Work?
It may be hard to believe that plastic trays can move the teeth effectively, but these aligners have fixed even some advanced cases of improperly aligned teeth. This movement is done by following the treatment plan prescribed by Dr. Davis. The aligners also have specific design features that help to move the teeth in any direction needed to produce the most ideal end result.
Moving the Teeth
Invisalign uses attachments and interproximal reduction to move the teeth and create space for them to shift as they need to. In this way, the teeth can be moved without having to remove too much tooth structure or remove teeth altogether. It also eliminates the need for wires, brackets, and rubber bands except in the more advanced cases.
Attachments are tooth-colored filling material bonded to the outer surface of specific teeth. Each aligner exerts force on these attachments in a specific way to move your teeth as needed for each sequence.
The treatment plan will determine which teeth we place the attachments on. The material is color-matched to your teeth to be as unnoticeable as possible and is simply removed from your teeth at the end of treatment using a handpiece.
Interproximal Reduction (IPR)
Just like with any orthodontics, there may be some interproximal reduction (IPR) conducted to create space. This involves shaping in between the teeth and removing only a maximum of a quarter of a millimeter off of the sides of designated teeth. This makes space for rotations and changes in tooth positions.
IPR allows you to get the movements you need without having to extract a tooth. Because such a small amount of your enamel is removed, the IPR does not negatively affect your teeth or weaken them in any way.
There are a few preliminary steps that have to be taken before you start your treatment to produce the most accurate results possible. You can also expect to come back anywhere from every few weeks up to a few months depending on the staging of your treatment.
At your initial consult, Dr. Davis will conduct an exam to determine if you are a mild, moderate, or severe case depending on the amount and types of tooth movements needed. If you are determined as a candidate, then he will take photos of your teeth and profile. He will also make a digital 3D scan of your teeth using an iTero scanner.
This machine uses a camera wand to take pictures and stitch them together to form a 3D model of your teeth on the screen. This is much more accurate than impressions and is also a lot less messy and uncomfortable for you. The 3D model is sent digitally to the lab, where the expert orthodontists will collaborate with Dr. Davis to create your treatment plan. Once the treatment plan is approved, the lab technicians will fabricate your series of finely calibrated aligners all at once.
At your first delivery appointment, your attachments will be placed on your teeth using the template sent with your case. Dr. Davis will also perform any IPR prescribed on your personal treatment plan. You will then get your first set of aligners and try them in to make sure they fit properly.
You will be given several aligners at this appointment to get you started. You may have as little as 12 aligners or as many as 48 aligners total depending on your treatment. You may notice a slight change in speech and a feeling of pressure, but you will not experience any pain or discomfort. The pressure felt with each new aligner will fade within 3-4 days.
How soon you come back for your next appointment and the appointments thereafter depends on the phasing of your treatment. You may need to come back every few weeks for additional IPR and/or placement of additional attachments before you get your next set of aligners. At these appointments, Dr. Davis will also make sure all your other attachments are still intact and that your teeth are moving as they should be.
Wearing and Caring for Your Aligners
Dr. Davis typically recommends that you wear each set of aligners for about two weeks before moving on to the next set. This means you will need to keep a schedule of the days that you switch aligners. You will wear the aligners all day and night except for when you eat, drink hot liquids, brush, and floss; this will amount to at least 22 hours of wear a day.
To clean your aligners, you can simply use your toothbrush with a small amount of toothpaste and brush them out after brushing your teeth. If you don’t have access to a toothbrush easily, at least rinse your mouth with water to avoid trapping food debris against your teeth. If you feel that your aligners have too much buildup, you can soak them in warm water for 15 minutes with the cleaning crystals from the website.
Once you are done with treatment and you and Dr. Davis are satisfied with the appearance, bite, and spacing of your teeth, your attachments will be removed. You will then be scanned with the iTero scanner for retainers.
Dr. Davis will recommend a regimen of wear for your retainers depending on your situation. These retainers will be clear plastic and fit your teeth just like your aligners, but they will not have spaces for attachments.
Why Do I Need Invisalign?
Many people view straightening teeth as a matter of aesthetics instead of health. Fillings, crowns, root canals, and the loss of teeth may just seem like unwanted but normal occurrences. Many times, these tooth problems are blamed on genetics, diet, and home care. While these factors certainly have an impact on the long-term health of the teeth, there is another factor that affects the teeth on an even bigger scale: malocclusion.
The Dangers of Malocclusion
Malocclusion is defined as the misalignment of the teeth. The teeth are actually designed to fit and align together a certain way, called the ideal occlusion. This ideal occlusion allows each tooth to perform its intended function properly without taking on the job of other teeth.
Teeth are forced to take on functions they are not intended to when the teeth are not aligned correctly into the ideal occlusion. This can cause many tooth problems, such as chipping, abfractions, attrition, fractures, and toothaches. It can even cause problems with the gums and lead to periodontal disease. And all of these problems cause you to invest a lot of money into fixing your teeth.
Though teeth can be chipped due to an external impact or an accident, one of the most common causes of chipped teeth is actually an improper bite alignment. The top edges of the teeth, called the incisal edge, are designed for tearing into food and providing the first contact for other teeth to bite against. However, when these incisal edges continue to come together improperly, it causes an eventual loss of tooth structure over time, resulting in chipped teeth. Many times, teeth have to be repaired repeatedly over the years once they are chipped.
An abfraction is the mechanical loss of tooth structure along the gum line of a tooth. This means that some of the tooth will actually chip out at the gumline due to tensile stress. Because the tooth is made of rigid minerals, it does not flex and bend when the teeth meet together improperly. The strain from the extra forces put on the tooth due to misalignment causes the tooth to chip out gradually at its weakest point, which is right above the gumline. This can cause extreme sensitivity and even break the tooth if it continues.
Attrition is defined as the generalized wearing of the teeth. The teeth can be worn down and flattened over time because of excessive grinding and clenching of the teeth known as bruxism. This is often the leading cause of tooth wear; however, malocclusion also causes the teeth to wear down and flatten over time because they touch where they are not meant to. Over time, this can cause tooth sensitivity, jaw pain, and even cracks and fractures in the teeth that may lead to extractions.
Fractures are cracks in the hard outer shell of the tooth called the enamel. The enamel protects the softer inside of the tooth and the nerves and blood supply. Though fractures in the tooth may seem sudden, these are actually the result of teeth exerting undue force on each other over long periods of time because of an improper bite. Fractures may cause toothaches, breaks, and infections that often require large fillings, root canals, crowns, and even extractions.
Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease
While gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums that can be reversed with proper brushing and flossing, periodontal disease is much more serious and often irreversible. Periodontal disease is an advanced stage of gingivitis that results in infection of the gums, tooth ligaments, and bone surrounding the teeth. It can lead to gum recession, bone loss, toothaches, halitosis, and even loss of teeth.
When teeth are too crowded, too widely spaced, or not aligned properly, it can be difficult to clean them properly. This allows plaque to buildup on the teeth and travel below the gumline to the ligaments and bone, progressing from gingivitis to periodontal disease if left untreated.
The Solution to Malocclusion
Invisalign can not reverse the damage already done to teeth. However, it can prevent you from experiencing these tooth problems in the future. It will also save you a lot of pain, money, and unwanted trips to the dentist by moving your teeth into their correct positions to prevent chipping, abfractions, wearing of the teeth, fractures, and toothaches.
It will also help your gum and bone health. Improper cleaning causes a buildup of plaque and irritation of the gums, which leads to cavities, gingivitis, and even periodontal disease. Aligning the teeth will make it much easier to clean your teeth, which will prevent gingivitis and periodontal disease.
What Are the Benefits over Traditional Braces?
Invisalign offers several benefits and advantages over traditional braces, such as convenience, comfort, a shorter treatment time, and appearance.
You don’t have to restrict the foods that you eat just because you are wearing your aligners; all you have to do is remove before you eat or drink something hot. You can also brush and floss like normal, and the aligners are very easy to clean.
Because the aligners are plastic and fit to your teeth, they are comfortable and almost unnoticeable to your mouth, unlike the harsh metal of traditional braces. They also move your teeth much less each time you move to the next tray, so you don’t experience the discomfort from getting braces tightened.
Because each aligner can move multiple teeth simultaneously in all directions as needed, it takes a significantly shorter time than braces to straighten the teeth and bring them into ideal alignment.
These aligners are virtually unnoticeable even when caught on camera or at a speaking distance, so they won’t make you feel self-conscious or interfere with your daily interactions and conversations. You can continue to smile and converse comfortably even as you wear your aligners. You also don’t have to worry about your teeth being permanently stained because the attachments are easily removable.
Straightening Your Teeth
We know that having straight, beautiful, and healthy teeth is something that is important to you, and we want to help you achieve that goal. Call us here at Davis Orthodontics in San Diego, CA today to set up an initial consult. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you on your journey to a better, healthier smile.