The most obvious advantage of the treatment is cosmetic: the aligners are completely transparent, therefore far more difficult to detect than traditional wire and bracket braces. This makes the method particularly popular among adults who want to straighten their teeth without the look of traditional metal braces, which are commonly worn by children and adolescents.
In addition, the aligners are more comfortable than braces. Due to the removable nature of the device, food can be consumed without the encumbrance of metallic braces.
Clinically, aligners avoid many of the side effects of traditional fixed appliances, for example the effects on the gums and supporting tissues. Patients "graduate" to a new set of aligners in their treatment series approximately every two weeks. The aligners give less force per week and less pain than do fixed appliances (traditional metal braces). Fixed appliances are adjusted approximately every six weeks and apply greater forces.
Aligners should be removed to eat, drink, to clean the teeth, or to have them checked by the clinician. Because patients are able to remove the aligners, there are no restrictions on foods that could damage the appliances.
Like traditional fixed braces, they are largely dependent on a patient's habits and their co-operation. The success of the aligners is based on a patient's commitment to wear the aligners for a minimum of 20–22 hours per day, only removing them when they are eating, drinking, or brushing their teeth.
The system is more expensive than traditional wire and bracket systems.
The aligners must be removed before eating, an advantage and disadvantage depending upon the person. They and the teeth should be cleaned before re-inserting them afterwards.
Because the aligners are removed for eating, they could be lost. Certain teeth are slightly problematic for Invisalign aligners to rotate. Some lower premolars with their rounded shape can be difficult for the aligners to grasp and apply a rotational force to.
Unlike traditional braces, if a patient grinds or clenches her or his teeth during the day or while sleeping, the aligners can become damaged, however this protects the teeth from damage which would otherwise occur. In practice, however, this problem is very rare and a new aligner can be ordered. Also, similar to traditional metal braces, aligners may cause a slight lisp at the beginning of treatment. This usually disappears as the patient becomes used to the treatment.
The aligners are constructed of medical grade plastics, and though extremely rare, there may be cases of allergic and toxic sensitivity reactions to aligners. Should the treatment go off track, or patients fail to keep the aligners in for the required length of time, then the next aligner in the series will not fit, and a new set of impressions and aligners will be necessary, adding to the cost.
An orthodontist begins by taking dental impressions, x-rays and photographs of the patient's teeth and sending them to Laboratory.
Once the aligners are ready, the Orthodontist delivers it to you with instructions on wear and care.
Attachments, also called buttons are sometimes bonded to teeth that need to be rotated or moved more than other teeth. Elastic wear (rubber bands) are also used to move the teeth forward or back relative to the jaw, thus accomplishing anterior or posterior corrections. Reproximation, (also called Interproximal Reduction or IPR is sometimes used at the contacts between teeth to allow for a better fit.
Average treatment time is about one year, again depending on the complexity of the treatment. Simple treatments (minor crowding, minor spacing) may be as short as twenty weeks. Although the aligners are removable, they must be worn at least 20 to 22 hours per day to avoid delaying the treatment process. If they are not worn consistently, treatment time will increase.
After the regular aligner or braces treatment is complete, retainers composed of a similar plastic material are usually required to be worn, at least at night.
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