Are you looking to improve your smile? Do you dream of having straight teeth? If your answer to either of these questions is yes, perhaps you might consider orthodontic solutions, such as invisible braces. These are recommended for specific misalignment issues or bite problems, with the added advantage of being, as their name points out, invisible. For many people, the fact that they are barely visible represents a definite advantage, giving them the confidence they need to pursue a revitalized smile. If you are looking to find out more information on the subject, do not hesitate to keep on reading.
We all want straight teeth, but the thought of having to wear braces is terrifying. Fortunately, orthodontic care specialists have thought of everything, developing invisible braces. These do not have brackets or wires, but serve the same purpose, nonetheless. They represent the best alternative to traditional braces, but it is important to understand they cannot address severe misalignments or complex bite problems. These are best treated through standard methods, as the orthodontist might point out.
Generally speaking, invisible braces can help with moderate misalignment, overbite or overjet, crowded or widely spaced teeth, and crooked teeth. They can be worn by both adults and teenagers, but not in the situation where baby teeth are still present. For children and young teenagers, traditional metal braces remain the best option. Of course, the orthodontist will determine if you are a candidate for invisible braces or not.
There are three main types of invisible braces, meaning clear aligners, inside braces, and ceramic brackets. Clear aligners are custom made and removable, providing minimal adjustments. They are minimally invasive, so the discomfort should be reduced or non-existent. From an aesthetic point of view, it is worth mentioning that these will never be noticed. They present a reduced risk of staining as well. In addition, there are no brackets or wires to worry about. The orthodontist might recommend you remove these when eating or drinking, as well as for brushing and flossing.
Given the fact that clear aligners are not fixed, the patient might have to exert self-discipline. To deliver the desired results, these should be worn consistently. Unfortunately, there is always the risk of losing or misplacing the clear aligners. As a result, the treatment might be delayed, and you will have to cover the additional replacement cost.
They are comfortable to wear, but some patients might experience mild pain or discomfort, especially in the beginning. This is only temporary, as pressure is applied on the teeth, in order to shift them in the desired position. You should always get clear aligners from your orthodontist, as this is the only specialist who is trained in offering such treatments. The specialist will provide tips on how to look after these.
It might sound strange but ceramic braces also fall in this category, given that they are made from tooth-colored materials. These have both brackets and wires, and sometimes patients also have to wear rubber bands to hold them. Staining is a problem, and it is worth remembering that these cannot be removed, not until the treatment is completed. Patients might experience mild discomfort and irritation, with a longer treatment time. Inside braces are applied to the back of the teeth, representing a suitable solution for those who are self-conscious. They are also fixed and not removable, and might affect the speech.
The clear aligners, which are the most common types of invisible braces, are made from medical grade plastic. In more specific terms, the material is used is multi-layer aromatic thermoplastic polyurethane or copolyester. Other aligners are made from polymethyl methacrylate or polyethersulfone, both of which are not harmful for one's health. You can also expect to see modern aligners made from trimethyl orthosilicate, which is also known as orthodontic plastic that can be molded into 3D shapes. Last, but not least, you have clear aligners made from acrylic resin. As specialists will point out, they do not contain harmful materials, such as bisphenol-A or phthalate plasticizers.
It is worth knowing that invisible braces are more expensive than traditional metal braces, ranging between $2,500 and $7,000. Of course, there are several factors influencing the treatment cost, including the need for additional dental treatments, actual location and practice, experience in orthodontic care, restorative work needed throughout the treatment, and dental insurance.
Before going through with such treatments, it might be a good idea to check your dental insurance plan. Some providers cover a part of the orthodontic care treatment, while others provide separate orthodontic care plans at additional cost. Discuss such matters with your insurance provider and talk to the orthodontist as well, as some practices offer attractive payment plans for such procedures.
Cons of invisible aligners
Invisible braces cannot be recommended for complex orthodontic issues. This is true for severe misalignments or complex bite problems, as the orthodontist might point out. In addition, if you have previous dental treatments, such as bridgework, you might not be able to wear invisible braces. It is worth knowing that invisible braces must be worn between 20 and 22 hours per day, which means you will have to commit to the treatment process. If you often deal with low compliance, this might not be the best option for you.
While the removal for eating or drinking is an advantage in itself, it might also increase the risk of you losing or misplacing the invisible braces. As a result, you might have to factor in the additional cost for the new aligners. From a different perspective, if you will not remove the aligners when eating or drinking, food debris might accumulate. This will cause bacteria to develop, with an increased risk for further dental issues. Last, but not least, wearing invisible braces might impose certain food limitations. You will have to avoid certain foods, especially the ones with a hard texture.
Pros of invisible aligners
Perhaps the biggest advantage worth mentioning is the aesthetic value. Many people prefer invisible braces, as these are rarely noticeable by others. In addition, they can be physically removed whenever one desires, a feature which brings comfort. As they can be removed, it is easier to drink and eat as accustomed. Moreover, this feature also makes oral hygiene easier to go through.
One can brush and floss, without having to deal with brackets and wires. As a result, one can actually improve his/her periodontal health, reducing the bacteria population around the teeth and gums. Clear aligners are not easily damaged and there is no risk of something breaking, as it often happens with traditional braces.
How does the procedure work?
First, the orthodontist will call you in for an initial consultation, where he/she will analyze your teeth. If dental issues, such as cavities or swollen gums, are identified, these will have to be treated first. Like with other types of braces, invisible orthodontic appliances are only used on healthy teeth.
Once it has been established that all of your teeth are healthy, the orthodontist will take a 3D impression of them. The impression will be sent to a dental laboratory, where the custom-fit aligners will be created with the help of modern technology. The lab will then send the invisible braces to the orthodontist, who will assess these for suitability. Depending on your problem, you might receive more than one set. Each new aligner set should be worn for a set amount of time; you might be advised to remove it while eating and drinking, as well as brushing and flossing.
The teeth will gradually adjust to the new braces, shifting into the new position. You will have to visit the orthodontist for periodic assessments, where the progress made will be assessed. At each visit, you will be given the next aligner set. Once the treatment has completed, you might receive revision aligners. These will correct any left misalignment or other similar issues.
Caring for your invisible braces in an appropriate manner will help you prolong their lifespan and complete the orthodontic treatment without additional replacements. You can also discuss such matters with your orthodontist, as this specialist might be able to provide other tips on how to properly care for your braces.
It is recommended to always rinse the invisible braces when you remove them. This is valid for clear aligners, and it will help you get rid of bacteria, reducing the risk of further dental issues. When cleaning your removable braces, make sure to use only lukewarm water. Remember that these are made from plastic material, which can expand and contract when exposed to extreme temperatures. The orthodontist might give you a cleaning solution to use.
You might also consider brushing and flossing your teeth before each wear. This is a simple method to remove the bacteria inside the oral cavity, which in turn will prevent potential dental complications. Do not apply toothpaste on your clear aligners, as this habit can actually damage the braces. It might seem like a good idea at first, but toothpaste is not recommended for cleaning your aligners. Once again, you can talk to your orthodontist about such issues. You might also be prescribed antibacterial mouthwash, in order to clean your mouth regularly.
While wearing invisible braces, it is recommended to refrain from smoking, as this habit can lead to staining. The same goes for beverages such as coffee, tea, or red wine, as these are known for their staining effect as well. In addition, the orthodontist might advise against chewing gum, given the fact that it can be easily stuck to the aligners.
Frequently asked questions
What is the length of treatment?
As with other types of braces, the length of treatment depends on each patient and his/her orthodontic care needs. Invisible braces are typically worn for up to 24 months, but the treatment duration might extend. The treatment duration might differ from one manufacturer to the other. Patients might require between 20 and 30 aligner sets, with several treatment steps or phases. The more severe the misalignment, the more the treatment will take.
This is a question that the orthodontist will be happy to answer. As you have seen, invisible braces can be worn by those who need teeth straightening or are dealing with bite issues. Of course, if you are dealing with severe orthodontic issues, you might be recommended to pursue other solutions.
When should I start seeing results?
Even though invisible braces can be worn for up to two years, most patients begin seeing results in a matter of weeks. The orthodontist will call you in for follow-up appointments, in order to assess the progress made.
I have veneers or crowns. Can I still benefit from invisible braces?
This depends on each individual situation. However, in most cases, patients with either veneers or crowns cannot benefit from clear aligners. The same goes for bridgework. Other solutions might be more suitable, especially since the main idea is to prevent further dental complications.
You might experience mild pain or discomfort in the first days of wearing. This is the result of the pressure applied on the teeth and it should only be temporary. If you are experiencing continued pain or discomfort, it might be a good idea to visit your orthodontist and see what can be done about such issues.
In conclusion, invisible braces can represent an aesthetic solution to your orthodontic problems. They are recommended for both misalignments and bite issues, but do not represent an effective solution in case of severe orthodontic problems. Be sure to schedule an appointment with your orthodontist and discuss your individual situation. As you have seen, you might need to check with your insurance provider, as such treatments are only partially covered by insurance. It can be necessary to purchase a separate orthodontic care plan.