Practicing great hygiene and upkeep of the teeth is most commonly credited to creating great smiles. However, that is not the case for everyone as genetics and other factors can lead to a less than perfect smile that is not aesthetically pleasing. In cases where the teeth are not straight, corrective procedures are needed to achieve a straighter, more desirable smile. One very popular and successful option in recent years has been clear orthodontic devices called aligners which are sometimes referred to as invisible braces. Traditional braces use brackets and wires to shift teeth into a desired location. On the other hand, aligners are tight, custom-made mouthpieces that simply slip over the teeth and encourage your teeth to move to an ideal position for a more natural-looking, straight smile. Brands that are often associated with aligners are Invisalign, Clear Correct, Inman Aligner and Smart Moves.
The wearing of invisible braces is not for everyone. The best way to find out if you are a good candidate for aligners is to discuss the topic with your orthodontist or dentist during a consultation appointment or regular dental visit. Ask about their experience with invisible braces and be sure to look at their “before and after” photos of patients they have treated. Crowded teeth and spacing issues can usually be treated with aligners. However, more severe issues with the teeth such as crowding, spacing, underbites and overbites may require a more complex treatment plan. In fact, it is believed by some that invisible aligners are better suited for adults and teens rather than children. The mouths of children are still growing and developing which could make the process more complicated and the dentist should consider these complexities while determining a treatment plan.
After your dentist has evaluated your oral health and assessed your bite, they will let you know whether or not invisible braces are a good option for you. If so, digital scans of your teeth will be taken and assessed. These scans will also allow your dentist to track your teeth’s progress as you go through the invisible braces treatment process.
Made from clear plastic or acrylic material, the tight fitting piece will be replaced with a new one every 1 to 3 weeks (as recommended by your dentist). Replacing the aligners every few weeks will ensure that your teeth continue to move to their desired positions to create the perfect smile. Your dentist will want to see you every 6-8 weeks to assess the progress of your teeth and ensure the aligners are moving your teeth correctly. The mouthpiece can be removed from time to time during the treatment to eat as well as to brush and floss your teeth. To get the best results, it is recommended to wear the aligners for 22-23 hours per day.
The overall treatment time will vary from person to person depending on the condition of your teeth. If your bite is off or more crooked than average, you can expect the treatment to take longer. The average treatment time is anywhere from 10 to 24 months. If you had braces in your childhood or early teens, and only have some slight shifting to correct, your treatment could be completed in as little as 10 weeks. Although most people are satisfied with their smiles after their treatment has finished, some people may need to make adjustments with traditional braces at the end of their invisible braces treatment in order to perfect their smile. This is because aligners are not as precise as metal braces and, depending on the position of your teeth and your desired results; metal braces for a short period of time may be required.
Invisible aligners make a good alternative to traditional braces aside from the aesthetic reasons to wear them. While they are far less noticeable than wires and brackets, they also make maintaining oral health much easier. Since the aligners can be removed at any time, you are able to brush and floss your teeth without the challenge of working around the metal braces. You also do not have to worry about food getting stuck in the brackets and wires of traditional braces. You can continue to smile with confidence without the “metal-mouth” look while your teeth are positioning themselves into a straighter, picture perfect smile.
The pricing for invisible braces usually depends on the amount of aligners that will be needed to provide the desired final results. They are typically a bit more expensive than regular braces with the treatment cost being estimated anywhere from $5000-$7500. The price is also determined by the amount of treatment you will require. Some private dental insurance companies may also cover some of the costs from your invisible braces treatment but this would depend on your coverage plan with them. It is always best to check with your insurance carrier to see if this treatment qualifies for coverage or reimbursement. Crooked or misaligned teeth can affect your smile and also be a detriment to your oral health. Consider your dental health options wisely as the final decision can make a big difference in the look of your teeth and smile.