A teenager with a silvery metal smile might likely cross your mind if we asked you to imagine what a person with “braces” might look like. You’d be right. That’s the typical stereotype.
Up until the last two decades, “braces” or full orthodontic treatment for patients was achieved by shaping and gluing metal bands around the teeth like large barrel hoops. Wires were then attached to the bands and bent in very precise ways to move the teeth into their correct alignments in the jaw over a period of one to two years. When you smiled during treatment you showed that typical big metallic smile.
Teenagers were the typical patients and these poor kids often had to put up with other kids teasing them. Maybe a small price to pay for a winning smile later as an adult, but what about adults? How many adults did we see wearing metal braces? Not many. Adults just didn’t get braces. Probably for many reasons, but mostly because full metal braces are well…, not very attractive. And guess what? Adults can be rough teasers too.
In 1997 a couple of young entrepreneurs from San Jose California discovered a very different method of aligning and moving teeth without the use of traditional braces. They called their invention “Invisalign”, a system using a series of clear plastic precisely designed dental “aligners”
Both braces and Invisalign use the same principles of orthodontics to move or align teeth into a functional and attractive result. In both methods, small amounts of pressure are placed on selected teeth to tip, tilt, and move them “through” the bone that surrounds their roots. Treatment normally takes an average span of one to two years.
The teeth are moved very slowly with precise sustained force as the bone surrounding the roots of the teeth is constantly being re-formed and re-molded. This continues until the teeth are in their final aligned positions with the bone once again in a stable position surrounding the roots. This remolding of the bone is a normal and natural reaction to slow pressure and causes no harm if done slowly and precisely.
Invisalign Orthodontics - What is It and How Does It Work?
Moving teeth with regular braces using wires is fairly easy to understand for most people. You move the teeth with well…, wires. Think about straightening a small tree in your yard. You attach a wire to it, pull on the wire and bend the tree gradually over time until it’s straight. But, what about Invisalign?
What Is a Dental Aligner?
Imagine if you could paint a very thin clear layer of plastic coating material on all of either your top or bottom teeth covering the surfaces of them just down to the gum line. Like painting a fence. After the plastic coating hardens you can imagine reaching into your mouth and removing the coating all at once. It would look like a clear plastic horseshoe-shaped version of all your teeth. You could put it back in your mouth and it would fit perfectly over your teeth again. Since it would be clear, no one would be able to tell if you were wearing this clear covering over your teeth.
Although your dentist doesn’t paint anything on your teeth as in our imaginary example, real dental aligners are in fact clear plastic horseshoe shaped “trays” that fit over your teeth just like in our imaginary example and are essentially “invisible” in that no one can tell if you are wearing one. In the real world, they are constructed not by painting, but using digital (computer) impressions and specialized models of your mouth that require precise dental laboratory and computer methods and procedures too complicated to describe here.
How Do Dental Aligners Work?
There are up to 36 or more sequential dental aligners used in Invisalign orthodontic treatment. Each aligner is constructed so that when it is placed over the teeth it puts a precise amount of pressure on the teeth that the dentist wishes to move. The first aligner is placed. In two weeks’ time the selected teeth will have moved a very small amount. A new aligner is placed that once again puts pressure on certain teeth to move them a very small amount. This process is repeated utilizing a different aligner every two weeks until the teeth have been moved into their final positions. 36 aligners changed every two weeks would equal a treatment time of 1 ½ years.
Limitations of Invisalign
Not all patients are suitable for Invisalign treatment. Your dentist can perform an examination for you and tell you if you would be a candidate for treatment.
Invisalign requires diligence on the part of the patient. If the aligners are not worn as directed (22 hours per day) they will not work properly.
The aligners need to be removed to eat and drink (except water).
The biggest advantage of the Invisalign orthodontic system is that it is essentially invisible and therefore appeals to people who for whatever reason do not wish to wear visible braces; mainly adults.
Invisalign offers three different kinds of treatment.
- Standard - For most adults and other patients that require entire (full) mouth orthodontics
- Teen -For children/teenagers 10-14 years old
- Express – For less extensive or minor cases
Costs for Invisalign treatment are based on the complexity of each case.
Call our Allentown Dental Office
Besides a wide array of other affordable and quality general and cosmetic dental services, Drs. Amir and Sunny Mojahed offer Invisalign orthodontics, but with the added advantage of a personalized experience where the entire staff makes a genuine effort to get to know you and ensure that you leave the office with a very visible, happy and healthy smile.