While it’s true that real beauty comes from within, nothing can shake your confidence quite like a smile that’s less than perfect. Whether from trauma, genetics, or childhood habits, crooked teeth can be a distraction, but there is a solution. For kids, it’s almost a rite of passage to flash a mouth full of metal. As an adult, however, metal braces may just add to the problem. That’s where Invisalign braces come in.

How does Invisalign work?

In 1997, partners Zia Chishti and Kelsey Wirth founded Align Technology, the company that would solve this problem for millions of people. Invisalign braces, a system of clear teeth aligners meant to be an alternative to metal braces, were introduced. In 1998, Align Technology applied for and received approval to use these straighteners from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This cleared the way for dentists across the country to begin treatments.

Invisalign braces use a series of clear dental appliances referred to as “aligners” to straighten teeth. These aligners snap into place over teeth and are changed every two weeks. Treatment is customized for each patient.

Step 1: Evaluation

The first step in your customized treatment plan is a meeting with your Scottsdale Invisalign dentist. They can evaluate your bite and determine if this treatment is right for you.

Step 2: Aligners are made

Your dentist will take a complete 3D scan of your teeth (and maybe a physical impression as well) to begin mapping out a treatment plan. Included in this plan will be an estimate of the time needed to complete the treatment and a preview of your smile, post-treatment.

Step 3: Treatment

Invisalign braces made from SmartTrack® material are delivered, and your treatment begins. Most patients wear their aligners 20 to 22 hours a day, removing them to eat, drink, and clean teeth only.

Step 4: Monitor progress

Your dentist will evaluate your progress with Invisalign braces in the same way they would traditional braces, with check-ups at least every six months.

Step 5: Fit retainer

Most dentists recommend wearing a retainer for the same amount of time as the aligners for six months after treatment, and then nightly for the rest of your life.

How long does Invisalign take?

The length of your treatment will vary depending on the amount of correction needed. In general, patients wear their Invisalign aligners for an average of one year, changing them every two weeks.

There are ways to accelerate this pace. AcceleDent or Propel are two FDA-approved treatments designed to help speed up the process. AcceleDent is a machine used at home that massages teeth to help them move more quickly. Propel is a procedure performed in the dentist’s office that is a bit more involved but can decrease treatment time by 60%. Every six to eight weeks, your dentist will drill small holes in the jaw called micro-osteoperforations. These holes cause inflammation that allows the teeth to move more quickly.

While there is some discomfort associated with both techniques, many patients feel that it’s worth the decrease in treatment time.

How to clean Invisalign braces

As with all dental work, hygiene is essential. If you have Invisalign braces, you must rinse them with water and brush them you would any other dental appliance.

Care for your teeth by brushing not only in the morning and evening, but also after meals. Aligners can trap food particles up against the teeth and increase your future risk of tooth decay.

What can I expect before and after with Invisalign?

The difference in your smile after Invisalign braces will be remarkable. More than just a cosmetic fix, Invisalign braces actually improve your dental health. Properly aligned teeth promote healthier teeth and gums generally, but it also makes cleaning easier.

If you struggled with chewing properly and even had trouble speaking clearly, a straight smile may help remedy these problems. Improper tooth alignment can also cause other dental issues, unevenly wearing teeth. This uneven wear can cause a host of dental issues, from simple cavity to broken and abscessed teeth.

Health benefits aside, straight teeth can boost self-esteem and increase your confidence. Clear Invisalign braces are one way to achieve this boost without the awkwardness of a mouth full of metal.

What’s the difference between Invisalign vs. braces?

While Invisalign and braces both reach the same destination, their paths are very different. It comes down to appearance, time, and discomfort.

Invisalign vs. braces: appearance

The first major difference that is attractive to adults considering braces is that Invisalign braces are less noticeable. Some users find that they have a slight lisp when wearing their aligners, but that is a small trade-off (and may disappear as treatment progresses).

Invisalign vs. braces: time

The average length of treatment with metal braces is 18 months to three years. Average treatment time with Invisalign braces is just one year.

Invisalign vs. braces: discomfort

The level of discomfort for patients with either Invisalign or metal braces will vary considerably, but in general patients report more discomfort with traditional metal braces.

For many people, adults and children alike, there are more visits to the dentist to tighten and change brackets on metal braces, a process which can cause significant discomfort. Patients with metal braces also often have to have dental appliances installed or teeth pulled before getting braces, which may add to your discomfort.

Invisalign aligners are not pain-free, but many patients report manageable levels of discomfort even when they opt to speed up their treatment times with AcceleDent or Propel.

How much does Invisalign cost?

As with levels of discomfort, Invisalign cost can vary wildly from state to state and even from neighborhood to neighborhood. The length of treatment and whether or not you opt for any treatment acceleration can affect your final cost.

Your Scottsdale Invisalign dentist can give you a better idea of the costs associated with Invisalign braces. Contact us today at AZ Dentist to set up your first consultation on your way to a beautiful, healthy smile!

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