Your teeth are an integral part of your smile and can make or break the first impressions that you leave. If you have crooked teeth, this can significantly impact the quality of your smile and your confidence. Your smile is not the only thing affected by crooked teeth. Fortunately, alignment issues with your teeth can be corrected. Traditionally, this has been done with metal braces. The idea of metal braces, however, does not sit well with many patients. At Bisson Dentistry, we offer an alternative to metal braces with Invisalign.
Effects of Crooked Teeth
One of the most major impacts of crooked teeth is the impact that they have on your smile. When your teeth are crooked, your smile just may not be what you want it to be. It can also leave the wrong impression with those around you. Additionally, crooked teeth can affect your confidence, which can lead you to hide your smile. Whether you hide your smile behind your hand, smile with your lips closed, or otherwise conceal your mouth, you can unconsciously send the wrong message.
Your smile is not the only thing affected by crooked teeth. They can also have a serious impact on your oral health as well. Crooked teeth are harder to keep clean, which can lead to plaque and bacteria buildup, both of which can then contribute to cavities and gum disease. Crooked teeth can lead to bruxism, a condition in which you grind and clench your teeth. This can cause uneven tooth wear. You may experience gum recession, loose teeth, or an increased risk for tooth damage. You can also experience pain in your temporomandibular joint, a condition known as TMJ disorder.
Traditional Treatment for Crooked Teeth
For decades, crooked teeth have been treated with metal braces. Still a popular treatment today, braces are highly effective. They consist of three basic components:
Depending upon your circumstances, there are also other components that may be used, including rubber bands, springs and more. While traditional braces are a highly effective treatment, and still very common today, the thought of having a mouth full of shiny metal can be more devastating to confidence than having crooked teeth.
What is Invisalign?
Invisalign is an alternative treatment to traditional metal braces. Rather than brackets and wires, this treatment uses clear, rigid, medical-grade plastic aligners to straighten your teeth and help you achieve the beautiful smile you have always wanted. These aligners are made from impressions of your mouth, which are then displayed on a computer monitor in 3-D. Thanks to specialized software, we can see every step of your treatment, from the very beginning to the very end.
Along with being clear, the aligners are also removable. However, for you to achieve optimal results in the shortest amount of time, it is imperative that you wear them for 20 to 22 hours a day. The only time they should be removed is when you eat and when you brush your teeth. All other times, they should remain in your mouth.
History of Invisalign
Invisalign has only been around for about two decades. The idea for Invisalign was thought up by a Stanford University graduate by the name of Zia Christi in the 1990's. Christi was wearing a retainer at the time, having completed his orthodontic treatment, and noticed that his teeth would shift out of place when he did not wear it. Then, when he would wear it, he found that his teeth would realign. His idea was to take this concept and apply it to the whole process of straightening teeth.
Christi teamed up with Kelsey Wirth, a friend of his, and the two of them set out to find other partners. They eventually added two more people and the four of them founded Align Technology in 1997. In the process, they were also able to procure investors as well and began to develop their product in a garage.
After researching CAD technology and 3D printers, getting the aligners on track for gradual movement of the teeth, they were able to procure FDA approval in 1998. Even after this approval, orthodontists were slow to adopt this new treatment method. In 2000, Align Technology launched a massive television campaign that amounted to about $31 million, a campaign unlike any the dental world has ever seen before. Moreover, it worked. It caught the attention of consumers with crooked teeth looking for a less conspicuous treatment to correct their smiles. The same year as the campaign, about 75% of orthodontists began receiving training in the use of Invisalign. Patients began to try it and loved it. From that moment on, more and more patients with orthodontic needs have been asking if Invisalign can work for them.
How does Invisalign work?
Treatment with Invisalign involves the use of several different aligners. Each aligner is made to be worn for two weeks at a time before switching to the next one in the series. Each new aligner is slightly different from the one before it, which aids the gradual movement of your teeth into proper alignment. Depending on your specific situation, and how long your treatment lasts, you may go through anywhere from 20 to 30 different sets of aligners.
Instead of brackets and wires, the rigid plastic of the Invisalign aligners is responsible for the movement of your teeth. The plastic puts a gentle pressure on your teeth, which then places pressure on the periodontal ligament, the tissue that holds your teeth securely in place. When the ligament widens, the teeth are then able to be guided gradually into proper alignment. Once the proper alignment has been achieved, the aligners then hold your teeth in place. When your treatment is over, you receive a retainer, which helps you to maintain the beautiful results.
How long does treatment with Invisalign take?
The exact length of your treatment depends on your specific situation. Typically, treatment with Invisalign takes anywhere from 9 to 15 months. Most patients achieve their desired results in less than a year. In rare cases, treatment can take up to two years to complete. We will have a better idea of how long your treatment will last once we have completed your initial consultation and taken digital images of your mouth.
What benefits does Invisalign offer?
Invisalign offers a whole host of different benefits. These benefits include:
Are there any restrictions with Invisalign?
Because Invisalign aligners are removable, there are no restrictions regarding the foods you can eat. There are still, however, other considerations that you should know about, including:
Am I a candidate for Invisalign?
Invisalign aligners are a great option for individuals who have less severe types of alignment issues. Treatment may not work for those with extremely crooked teeth or those with large overbites or other issues that may require more advanced corrective methods. Age is also a factor in determining candidacy. The jaws of younger patients are still growing and developing, which can make the creation of effective aligners more difficult. Some patients as young as 13 may benefit from treatment, but a thorough evaluation will help us to determine whether or not it will be the best treatment. For older teens and adults, there is no age limit. Finally, you must be committed to your treatment. Unlike traditional braces, Invisalign aligners are removable. For optimal effectiveness, they should be worn for 20 to 22 hours a day. If you are lax in wearing your aligners, your treatment will not work as well, or at all.
If you have crooked teeth but are not fond of the idea of dealing with a shiny metal smile to correct them, Invisalign might be able to help. For more information, and to find out if Invisalign treatment is right for you, call Bisson Dentistry today at (226) 299-0713.