Even though traditional braces have come a long way in recent years, you may still feel you mourn the news that you need them. Teens and adults in particular worry that braces might change their appearance too much, or will interfere with their daily life. Even though metal and clear braces have improved significantly and hardly resemble the awkward appliances of the past, we understand why some patients are hesitant to embrace them. If you’ve been thinking about improving your smile but aren’t sure if traditional braces are for you, Windy City Orthodontics has another option for creating a straighter, healthier smile.
Invisalign is a clear aligner system that offers a simple and discreet alternative to braces, giving patients the same results without using any brackets, wires, or bands. This makes them especially attractive to patients who would prefer to avoid the appearance of traditional braces, and want to keep their daily routine intact during orthodontic treatment. If you’re looking for a subtle way to straighten your teeth, Invisalign can be an excellent option! But what exactly is Invisalign? Let’s take a closer look at how this innovative system works to give you the smile you’ve been waiting for.
What is the Invisalign clear aligner system?
To understand how Invisalign differs from braces, it helps to know a bit about fixed and removable orthodontic appliances. Braces are a fixed appliance, meaning they are attached directly to the teeth, and can only be removed by experienced orthodontic professionals. Invisalign aligners, on the other hand, are removable appliances. Although the aligners are custom-designed to fit your teeth snugly, they aren’t actually attached to your teeth in any way.
Invisalign uses a series of these clear removable aligners to shift your teeth in much the same way brackets and wires do. Some patients are surprised when they see an aligner up close, and wonder how it can achieve the same results as braces. The design is deceptively simple! Aligners are actually made of a special type of thermoplastic resin that’s strong enough to move the teeth into alignment by small intervals over time. To do this, the custom-made aligners are switched out at predetermined intervals throughout treatment.
How does the Invisalign clear aligner system work?
The first step in any orthodontic journey is an initial consultation. At Windy City Orthodontics, we offer this first visit free of charge! During your appointment, we’ll discuss any orthodontic needs and after an examination, Dr. Pakravan will let you know if Invisalign would be a good fit for your smile. If you are, we can begin mapping out a precise treatment plan for you using a highly detailed 3D digital scan of your teeth and gums.
Dr. Pakravan will design the exact movements we want your teeth to make (fine-tuned to fractions of millimeters!) and shape of your aligners, and the resulting plan will give us an idea of how long your treatment is most likely to take.
We’ll also use this 3D digital scan to create your custom aligners. Made from Invisalign’s special SmartTrack® material, the comfortable plastic trays are virtually invisible, something patients love! Although every case is unique, the total number of aligners needed during treatment is usually somewhere between 10 and 48, with the total treatment time averaging between 6 and 18 months for most patients.
The success of your Invisalign treatment relies partly on how well you play your role.
Because the aligners are removable, you’ll be responsible for wearing them as directed by Dr. Pakravan. For the system to work, you will need to wear your aligners for 20-22 hours daily, during your treatment. You’ll also need to be vigilant about changing your aligners out every 1-2 weeks, depending on your specific treatment plan. This ensures that your teeth keep up with the movements your aligners are trying to make.
You can expect to see us in our Lakeview office about every 3 months so Dr. Pakravan can check that things are progressing on schedule. These regular check-ups are an essential part of your orthodontic treatment, so don’t skip them!
What advantages does Invisalign have over traditional orthodontic treatment?
Invisalign is a more comfortable and attractive solution than traditional metal braces, but there’s more to love about the system than just that. Because the aligners are removable, there are no restrictions to your diet or activities!
Most people who have worn braces will tell you that having to give up some of their favorite foods was one of the hardest parts of treatment. To protect the wires and brackets, patients in braces must steer clear of any treats that are too crunchy or chewy, including things like whole apples, carrots, popcorn and chips, and several types of candy. With Invisalign aligners, you simply take them out any time you want to eat or drink anything other than water, then put them back in when you’re done. No food restrictions makes orthodontic treatment a lot more fun!
Removable aligners also make it easier to maintain a good dental hygiene routine. The wires, brackets, and bands that accompany traditional braces can make brushing and flossing effectively a difficult and time-consuming task. With Invisalign, aligners are removed before brushing and flossing as normal. Cleaning the aligners themselves is a snap, too! There are special kits designed to clean Invisalign aligners, or you can gently clean them using denture crystals and a soft toothbrush.
Since you will be checking the fit and progress of your Invisalign aligner treatment at home, you don’t need to come to the office for visits as often. Most visits are much shorter than visits to adjust braces, which means you don’t need to spend as much time at the orthodontist (though you’re always welcome to stop in and say hi)!
Last but not least, removable aligners can be a huge bonus when you play sports (you can remove your Invisalign aligner and wear a regular mouthguard) or certain types of instruments (no wires or brackets to get in the way of your playing.) The aligners can also be removed for short periods of time when you want your natural smile on display at events such as weddings, prom, and senior photos.
Who is a good candidate for Invisalign?
In general, Invisalign works best for adult and teen patients with mild to moderate orthodontic issues. There can be complex or severe cases which will require more precise tooth control than a removable aligner can achieve, but in most cases a combination of other orthodontic techniques plus Invisalign aligners can achieve our objectives. During your initial consultation, Dr. Pakravan will determine if Invisalign is a good fit for you, or if you’d be better served by more traditional orthodontic treatment.
What happens once Invisalign treatment is complete?
No matter what orthodontic treatment you choose, your teeth will always remember their previous place in your mouth. Over time, they have a natural tendency to drift back towards those positions if there’s nothing to stop them. That’s why retainers are so important for every orthodontic patient! Once your treatment is complete, our office will provide you with a retainer. You should wear it exactly as directed by Dr. Pakravan to maintain your newly straightened smile.
Get expert Invisalign care from Windy City Orthodontics
It’s not hard to see why Invisalign is the most popular alternative to braces! This exciting system is changing the way people view orthodontic treatment, and we’re proud to be a Platinum Plus Invisalign provider for patients in Chicago and the surrounding communities.
If you’d like to learn more about Invisalign and what it can do for your smile, please get in touch with our friendly team today to schedule your complimentary consultation! With Invisalign, we can help you achieve the smile you’ve been waiting for.