Traditional braces have come along in leaps and bounds in recent years, but many patients are still on the fence about them. Teens and adults in particular worry that braces may be too obvious, or that they will interfere too much with their day-to-day life. While today’s braces barely resemble the awkward appliances of the past, we understand why some patients aren’t ready to embrace them. Fortunately, Manley Orthodontics has another solution available for straightening smiles!
Invisalign is a clear aligner system that offers patients a simple and discreet alternative to braces, giving them the same results without using any brackets and wires. This makes them attractive to those who would prefer to avoid the appearance of traditional braces, as well as patients who are looking for a way to keep their daily routine intact during orthodontic treatment. If this sounds like you, Invisalign can be a subtle option for straightening your teeth! But what exactly is Invisalign? Let’s take a closer look at how it differs from braces, the way it works, and how it can work to enhance your unique smile!
What is the Invisalign clear aligner system?
In order to gain a better understanding of the Invisalign system, it can help to know a bit about fixed and removable orthodontic appliances. Braces are a fixed appliance, which means they are affixed directly to the teeth, and can only be removed by an experienced orthodontic professional. In contrast, Invisalign aligners are removable appliances. While the aligners are designed to specifically fit your teeth, no part of them will actually be attached.
Invisalign uses a series of these clear removable aligners to shift your teeth in much the same way braces do, but some patients are surprised when they see an aligner for the first time. The design is deceptively simple, and they wonder how it can achieve the same results as more traditional braces! But Invisalign aligners are actually made of a special type of thermoplastic resin that’s strong enough to move the teeth into alignment over time. To achieve this, the custom-made aligners are switched out at regular intervals throughout the treatment process.
How does the Invisalign clear aligner system work?
The first step in any orthodontic journey is an initial consultation, and here at Manley Orthodontics, we provide it free of charge. Your Manley Smile Assessment will include x-rays and an exam, along with a consultation. We’ll discuss any orthodontic needs during this appointment, and Dr. Manley will let you know if Invisalign would be a good fit for you. If you are, we can begin mapping out a precise treatment plan for you using a highly detailed 3D scan of your teeth and gums. This plan will include the exact movements we want your teeth to make, and will give us an indication of how long your treatment is likely to take.
This 3D scan is also used to create your custom aligners. Because the trays are made from Invisalign’s special SmartTrack® material, they are both comfortable and virtually invisible, two benefits our patients love! There’s no “one size fits all” answer when it comes to how long treatment will last or how many aligners will be needed in total to achieve the best results. However, treatment time usually averages between 5 and 15 months, and the total number of aligners needed can be anywhere from 10-48 (or more!)
As the patient, you have an important role to play in the success of your Invisalign treatment. Because the aligners are removable, you’re responsible for wearing them as directed by Dr. Manley. In order for the system to work, you will need to wear your aligners for 20-22 hours daily, throughout the course of treatment. You’ll also need to be vigilant about changing your aligners out every 1-2 weeks, depending on your specific treatment plan. This allows them to keep up with the movements your teeth are making.
Regular check-ups are an essential part of your treatment process, so you don’t want to skip them! You should expect to visit one of our two offices every 4-8 weeks or so, during which time Dr. Manley will check to ensure that everything is progressing according to schedule.
What is Invisalign Teen? How does it differ from Invisalign?
Although Invisalign and Invisalign Teen work the same way when it comes to the underlying technology, Invisalign Teen was developed with the unique needs of teen patients in mind. There are a few special features that are specific to the Invisalign Teen system, including the following:
To help teens stick to their treatment plan, Invisalign Teen has a compliance indicator incorporated into each aligner. This will fade from blue to clear as it is used, providing a visual approximation of wear. This lets patients, parents, and orthodontists keep track of patient use. If a teen is skipping out on hours, it will be noticeable in enough time for us to correct compliance, thus keeping the overall process moving along at the right pace.
This feature accommodates the growth of the second molars in young adults, helping to keep space open for unerupted teeth and making it possible to treat a wider range of conditions with Invisalign.
We all lose or damage things from time to time. While we encourage all of our Invisalign patients to be careful with their aligners, don’t worry if your teen misplaces or loses one. Invisalign Teen anticipates it happening, and provides up to six replacement aligners at no charge to you!
What is Invisalign First?
While traditionally, Invisalign has been used to treat teens and adults with mild to moderate orthodontic issues, Invisalign First aligners are now available. These have been designed to treat a broad range of orthodontic issues in growing children. This is sometimes referred to as Phase 1 treatment, and it’s a great way for us to get impressive results for younger children without having to use traditional braces! Invisalign First aligners are:
- able to treat a number of teeth-straightening issues in children, from simple to complex. This includes crowding, spacing, and narrow dental arches.
- removable, making it easier for younger children to brush and floss effectively.
- designed for comfort, so there’s no discomfort to the gums or cheeks from brackets rubbing against them or loose wires poking into them.
If you’re unfamiliar with Phase 1 treatment, we sometimes initiate it in children ages 6-10 because an experienced orthodontist can already see issues that may need early treatment. This allows us to address any developing problems before they get the chance to become more serious. Invisalign First clear aligner treatment takes the unique needs of each young patient into consideration, and is designed for predictable results.
What advantages does Invisalign have over traditional orthodontic treatment?
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 keep their brackets and wires protected, braces patients must avoid any food that are too crunchy or chewy, including some whole fruits and veggies, popcorn and chips, and several types of candy. With Invisalign aligners, you simply take them out whenever you plan to eat or drink anything other than water, then put them back in when you’re done. No food restrictions can make orthodontic treatment a lot more fun!
Having removable aligners instead of a fixed appliance also makes it easier to maintain a good oral hygiene routine. The wires, brackets, and bands that come with traditional braces can make brushing and flossing effectively a frustrating task. With Invisalign, you just remove aligners before brushing and flossing as normal. Cleaning the aligners themselves is a snap, too! There are special kits that have been designed specifically to clean Invisalign aligners, or you can gently clean them yourself using denture crystals and a soft toothbrush.
What happens after Invisalign treatment is complete?
No matter what orthodontic treatment Dr. Manely recommends, your teeth will always remember their previous place in your mouth, and will have a natural tendency to drift back towards those positions over time. This is why retainers are so important for every orthodontic patient! Once your treatment is complete, our office will provide you with a one. You should always wear your retainer exactly as Dr. Manely recommends in order to maintain your newly straightened smile.
Trust the Invisalign experts at Manley Orthodontics
With so much freedom and flexibility, it’s easy to see Invisalign is such a popular alternative to braces! This exciting system continues to change the way people view orthodontic treatment every day, and we’re proud to be a certified Invisalign provider for patients in Issaquah, Sammamish, and the surrounding communities.