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Invisalign® and Braces

 
707-575-1900

Santa Rosa Invisalign Provider - Dr. Kenneth Alford - Clear Braces & Invisible Aligners


One of the primary concerns people often have about dental braces is the aesthetic impact of the metalwork on their smile. Especially for adults, the prospect of wearing unattractive metal braces for long periods of time can be very discouraging. Invisalign® offers an almost invisible aligning system that straightens teeth fast and contains no metal.

Invisalign® treatment consists of a series of custom-made aligning trays.  The dentist changes the trays every several weeks to fit the new tooth configuration.  In addition to the reduced visual impact, Invisalign® aligning trays can be temporarily removed for important occasions – meaning that treatment duration is patient-controlled.  A great number of people report complete satisfaction with both the Invisalign® treatment and the stunning results.

What kind of bite problems can Invisalign® correct?

Invisalign® corrects the same dental problems as traditional metal braces; the only difference is that Invisalign® trays are almost invisible to the naked eye, and can be removed at will.

Here are some problems that are commonly corrected with Invisalign®:

  • Overcrowding – This occurs when there is too little space for the teeth to align normally in the mouth.  Overcrowding can cause tooth decay and increase the likelihood of gum disease.
  • Large gaps between teeth – This can sometimes occur because teeth are missing or because the jaw continues to grow abnormally.
  • Crossbite – This common dental problem occurs when one or multiple upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth.  As a consequence, uneven wear can lead to bone erosion and gum disease.
  • Overbite – This problem occurs when the upper teeth project further than, or completely cover, the lower teeth.  Eventually, jaw pain and TMJ may occur.
  • Underbite – This is the inverse of the overbite; the lower teeth project further than, or completely cover, the upper teeth.  Eventually, jaw pain and TMJ can occur.

What advantages does Invisalign® offer over traditional braces and veneers?

Traditional dental braces, Invisalign® aligning trays, and dental veneers are three different ways to perfect the alignment of the teeth.  There are many different considerations to make when deciding which treatment will be best, and each of these options works better in certain situations.

Invisalign® differs from traditional braces in that the aligning trays are fully removable.  This means that more discipline and commitment is required from the patient.  This is not usually a problem since the trays are comfortable and nearly invisible.  Almost identical results can be obtained by using either treatment.

Invisalign® is preferable to veneers in many cases because unlike veneers, Invisalign® actually straightens the teeth. Veneers are thin covers that the dentist permanently affixes to the teeth.  Teeth must be etched beforehand, meaning that to remove dental veneers, an alternative covering must be constructed.  In addition to being somewhat expensive, veneers can break and often last for less than 20 years.

What does Invisalign® treatment involve?

First, the dentist needs to devise an initial treatment plan before creating the special aligning trays.  Three-dimensional digital images are taken of the entire jaw.  These images allow the dentist to move specific teeth on the screen, view the jaw from different angles, and also foresee what the face might look like in years to come.  In essence, this technology can show how Invisalign® trays will change the facial aesthetics.

Once planning is complete, a unique set of aligners is made.  The total amount of aligners required varies with each individual case, but 20-29 sets per arch is typical.

What are some considerations when wearing Invisalign® trays?

Life with Invisalign® aligning trays may take several weeks to get used to.  The trays should be worn constantly, except when eating and drinking.  It is important to remove the trays when consuming food or drink because food can become trapped between the tray and the teeth, causing tooth decay.

Usually, new trays are necessary every two weeks, and progress between appointments can be seen with the naked eye. There is no doubt that Invisalign® aligning trays have revolutionized orthodontics.  Invisalign® is renowned for being both comfortable and effective.

If you have questions about Invisalign®, please contact our office.


Braces


Orthodontist with Patient

 

 

When should I begin treatment?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all childrenn get a check-up with an orthodontist no later than age seven. Although only a few orthodontic problems need to be corrected at that age, an early exam allows the orthodontist to offer advice and guidance as to when the appropriate age to start treatment would be. Let your orthodontist guide you as to when to start treatment. Feel free to ask questions about the timing of treatment.

How long will my treatment take?

Orthodontic Patient

The length of treatment varies depending on the complexity of the orthodontic problem that requires correction, growth and tissue response to treatment as well as the level of patient cooperation during their treatment.  Orthodontic care requires a team approach in which the family dentist, the orthodontist and the patient play key roles that can impact the length of treatment and the quality of the end result. Generally, the length of comprehensive orthodontic treatment can range from approximately 18 months to 30 months, depending on treatment options and individual characteristics.

What are the stages of treatment?

Generally, there are two or three stages of orthodontic treatment. Most patients will benefit from an active corrective stage followed by a retention stage. Some patients will benefit from two active treatment stages often referred to as two-phase treatment. The goals of each stage should be discussed with the orthodontist so that patients and/or parents have realistic expectations.

How are teeth moved?

Headgear
Headgear

Teeth respond to the gentle forces that are applied to them. “Braces” are a combination of “brackets” and “wires”.  Brackets are the part of the braces that attach to the teeth. Brackets are the “handles” that help control movement of the teeth. Braces require a wire called an “archwire” that connects the brackets and provides the forces to steer the teeth in the proper direction.  It’s actually the wires that move teeth.  The interaction of brackets and archwires enables the orthodontist to have three-dimensional control over the movement of the teeth.  In many cases, additional forces are needed to help balance the underlying jaw structure and to help the upper and lower teeth fit properly together to make the bite right. Examples of these extra forces include: elastics (rubber bands) hooked to teeth (see photo below); headgear (see photo at right); functional appliances; and palatal expanders (see photo below).

Braces with Rubber Bands
Rubber bands provide additional forces to move teeth

Palatal Expander
A palatal expander

 

©2013 American Association of Orthodontists

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