This page will provide you with an overview of the Invisalign® process, but it cannot advise you about your unique situation. The best way to find out whether this braces alternative is the right option for you is to speak with Dr. Heather Fleschler in person. Please call (713) 660-6500 today to schedule a consultation at our Houston cosmetic dentistry office.
Benefits Of Invisalign®
Invisalign® offers several important benefits compared with traditional orthodontic treatment:
- Increased comfort – Your aligners have smooth edges, preventing your teeth and gums from being irritated during the straightening process.
- Removable – You can remove your aligners during meals and when brushing or flossing. This allows you to eat whatever you like, and it makes daily oral hygiene practices easier to complete.
- Invisible – The clear aligners will not be noticeable to others, making them a much more attractive solution than unsightly metal braces.
- Customization – Dr. Fleschler will take detailed impressions of your teeth which will be used to construct your Invisalign aligners, ensuring that your treatment is customized to address your unique orthodontic needs.
- Fewer office visits – You only need to visit Dr. Fleschler’s office once every 4-6 weeks, providing the additional convenience of fewer office visits compared with traditional orthodontic treatment.
Am I A Candidate For Invisalign®?
The Invisalign® Process
Dr. Fleschler will take an impression of your teeth which will be sent to the Invisalign® lab and used to construct a series of custom aligners. You will wear each aligner for approximately 2 weeks before moving on to the next aligner in the series. Each aligner will gradually shift your teeth closer to their intended position. Once the process is complete, you will be able to enjoy the benefits of beautiful, straight teeth.
In order to achieve optimal results, you must wear the aligners for at least 20 hours a day. The only time they should be removed is while you are eating or brushing your teeth.
Will Invisalign® Aligners Affect My Speech? Will They Make Me Lisp?
You may have heard rumors of an “Invisalign lisp.” It is true that some patients develop a temporary lisp when wearing their aligner trays. A lisp is a speech defect that causes “s” and “z” sounds to be pronounced as “th.” Lisps are caused by improper tongue placement inside the mouth during speech. This affects airflow and pronunciation.
Some patients with Invisalign® (and with traditional braces, by the way) develop lisps because the aligner trays alter the space within their mouth, causing the tongue to move a little differently, and altering some pronunciation. The vast majority of patients simply adjust to the thin plastic trays and the temporary lisp is just that…temporary.
What Is The Aftercare With Invisalign®?
Once your teeth have been moved to where Dr. Fleschler and you have agreed is the perfect location, there’s nothing left to do with your Invisalign® aligner trays. You won’t wear them any longer. Your teeth won’t need special cleaning or anything.
But, just as with traditional orthodontics, after your teeth have moved it’s important to keep them from trying to move back to their original, flawed positions. With traditional braces, that’s where retainers come in. They usually click into the roof of the patient’s mouth and wire wraps around the teeth to keep them in place. The problem with retainers is that hard plastic can be uncomfortable. Plus, since you only have one retainer, it can begin to have an odor over time.
Invisalign® doesn’t use a retainer with a plastic piece that snaps onto the roof of your mouth. Instead, Vivera® retainers made from the same material as the Invisalign® aligners keep the teeth in place. These Vivera® retainers are similar to the aligners, but they are thicker and more durable because they need to be worn for longer than just a couple of weeks. You will receive four Vivera® retainers to be swapped out over the course of your retention period.
How Long Does The Invisalign® Process Usually Take To Move The Teeth?
An interesting thing about Invisalign® is that not only is the process far more comfortable than traditional metal bands and wires, but it also moves your teeth more quickly. On average, it takes about two years for traditional braces to straighten your teeth. Invisalign® averages 12-14 months to achieve the same movement.
How Painful Is Invisalign®?
When Dr. Fleschler’s patients finish one aligner and move onto the next, there can be some mild soreness for a couple of days as the teeth begin the next stage of their movement. This aching is easily handled with over-the-counter pain medication.
The pain involved with the new movement, however, is nothing like the pain that occurs with traditional braces after the wires have been tightened and new rubber bands placed.
What Foods Should You Avoid With Invisalign®?
Another great thing about this orthodontic system is that our patients can eat whatever they choose. That’s because when you’re eating, you simply remove your Invisalign® aligner trays. When you’re finished eating, you put them back in.
That’s quite different from traditional bands and wires, where it is relatively easy to dislodge the bands. With traditional braces, patients need to avoid overly sticky and chewy foods, very hard foods, and foods like corn on the cob. Plus, getting food out from in between and under the bands is a difficult task.
Patients cannot eat anything with the Invisalign® trays in their mouth. No chewing gum. No eating anything. You can drink water with your aligner trays in, but that’s about all we recommend. Chewing can damage your aligner trays. Plus, drinking sugary beverages, such as sodas or juices, can allow the sugars to get behind the aligner trays and that’s not a good idea. You can eat or drink whatever you want — you simply remove your aligner trays.
Can Invisalign® Move My Teeth As Effectively As Traditional Braces?
It’s easy to assume that because Invisalign® is so comfortable it can’t be doing much real work moving the teeth. After all, traditional braces have tightening sessions every six weeks that leave the teeth quite sore for a couple of days. There are bands and wires pulling the teeth every which way. Now that’s orthodontics, right?
People often bring this up with Dr. Fleschler, assuming that the pain and irritation of metal bands and wires must be necessary. That’s not the case. The goal is to move the teeth as necessary, whether that’s closing gaps, straightening, whatever. Invisalign® does this just as effectively as traditional braces: it just does so without the medieval torture of metal bands, wires, and rubber bands. You could actually say that Invisalign® handles the process much more efficiently. The secret is using computer-mapping technology to plot the entire progression of the necessary movement of the teeth. This dictates the design of each successive aligner tray, setting the amount of pressure each tray needs to place to keep moving the teeth toward their final positions.
Invisalign® does demand a certain amount of discipline on the part of the wearer. If the patient doesn’t wear his or her aligner trays for 22 hours a day, their progress will be slower. After your treatment is complete, if you don’t wear your Vivera® retainers, your teeth can move back. This is exactly what happens with braces and plastic retainers.
But once Dr. Fleschler notices a teenage patient has not been wearing his or her aligner trays (there are blue compliance indicator dots on the back of every aligner tray, denoting the time-worn), she can explain the alternative — metal bands and wires — and the teen suddenly ups their wearing time to the necessary 22 hours per day.
Truth is, Invisalign® is just as effective for the majority of typical orthodontic needs. Can this system rotate molars? No. Can it replace dramatic movement that would require headgear? No. Those are relatively extreme orthodontic needs. For the average person, Invisalign® does a wonderful job without the irritating, embarrassing, painful experience that is traditional braces.