An Orthodontist’s Perspective on Invisalign and Braces

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People who have misaligned teeth now have more options for treatment to get their pearly whites straightened. Aside from the traditional braces, clear aligners have now their own following. A lot of patients come to my clinic and ask me which of the two braces treatment is best to address their teeth conditions. Both treatments have their pros and cons, so I have decided to write this post to give you an idea about how both braces treatments work.

If you have the same questions, then read on.

An Overview About Invisalign

Invisalign’s success in being one of the most popular brands in the clear aligner system can be credited to its track record that has been tested and proven over time. Established in 1997, Invisalign has studied more than a million cases in a span of 20 years to back up their clinical research and development.

Intra-oral Scanning Technology

Invisalign uses intra-oral scanning in order to assess a patient’s dental condition and customize a specific treatment using this data. The dental images are then set into software programs that can direct the different phases of the teeth’s progress during the treatment such as their movement, pace, scope, and direction. The data are then processed by technicians overseas through a remote server. The production of the clear aligners can start once the collected data has been finalised and the proposed treatment has been acknowledged by the patient.

The latest intra-oral scanning device, called itero element™, has a feature that can instantly align the teeth after a scan. This enables the orthodontist to give an assessment real-time, be able to address certain conditions, and recommend additional treatments for complicated cases like inter-proximal reductions.

Not all clinics have this type of scanning device as they can be extremely pricey. In case these are not available, your orthodontist or general dentist proceeds to do your dental impressions using Alginate to create moulds of your teeth.

Teeth Conditions Treated by Invisalign

Invisalign addresses the following teeth conditions:

  • Crossbite
  • Gapped teeth
  • Open bite
  • Overbite
  • Teeth crowding
  • Undebite

However, there are certain complex conditions that may not be solved by Invisalign. Your doctor should be able to tell you about this and recommend alternatives for your treatment.

Benefits of Using Invisalign

Some people perceive Invisalign as a solution intended for aesthetic purposes only. The truth is, Invisalign contributes more to just having perfectly straight teeth.

As a result of the treatment, straighter teeth help improve the overall health of the teeth and gums as they become easier to clean. Certain conditions that bring discomfort to the jaw are also addressed as the teeth’s placement gets corrected and aligned.

Invisalign is a popular choice among patients because it is simple to use. The clear aligners are easily removed when there is a need to take them out. You can still enjoy your favourite foods as using Invisalign does not require any dietary restrictions. Oral hygiene is hassle free since the aligners can be removed when flossing or brushing the teeth.

Invisalign is also aesthetically pleasing. Unlike traditional metal braces that make your teeth look like grills, Invisalign is made of a material that is transparent. It is barely noticeable. In addition, injuries to the mouth won’t be a problem because the thermoplastic material is safer as compared to metal brackets and wires that can cut the flesh.

What to Expect During Your Invisalign Journey

3D Scaning

Consultation is the primary step in your Invisalign journey. Pre-treatment requirements are done during this visit, like clinical photographs and dental x-rays. You will be assessed by the doctor thoroughly whether you are a suitable candidate for the treatment or not.

When you are qualified as an ideal candidate for the treatment, your orthodontist will proceed to take a 3D digital scan of your dental profile. These are then uploaded to software programs and sent overseas to the dental technicians of Invisalign. Basing on the orthodontist’s recommendations, a ClinCheck plan is customized for the treatment.

The ClinCheck plan is formulated according to the following factors:

  • Pace of the teeth’s movement
  • Precise movement of the teeth
  • Sequencing
  • Time needed to complete the treatment

A simulation of your teeth’s final results will then be projected based on these factors. When these are approved the technicians will then proceed to fabricate the sets of clear aligners needed for the treatment.

The complete sets of clear aligners are then shipped to the orthodontist’s clinic and you will be given the first set of your aligners. Your orthodontist will brief you on how to use your clear aligners and instruct you on how to keep them clean.

Daily Use and Clinic Visits

The clear aligners are to be used for 20 to 22 hours daily for 2 weeks. Once this is done, you can move on to the next set of aligners. Patients are also advised to visit the clinic in an interval of 6 to 10 weeks.

 The progress of your Invisalign treatment will be checked during this time to see if there are any challenges. Attachments (small bumps) may be placed on your teeth to aid in their proper and efficient movement. In some cases where the treatment plan gets out of line, the orthodontist may require additional dental procedures to further help align your crooked teeth. When this happens, your treatment plan may undergo some modification and there may be a need to insert new sets of clear aligners into your treatment plan in order for your treatment to reset the treatment back into the initial plan.

Word of Warning

It is important that you take good care of and do not lose your sets of clear aligners during the entire treatment. Lost or broken clear aligners will have to be done again, adding cost and more time to the treatment.

Maintenance After the Treatment

When you have successfully completed your Invisalign treatment, which is approximately in 18 to 24 months, you will be given a set of retainers. The retainers should be worn according to the orthodontist’s instruction to prevent the teeth from relapsing back to its original misaligned condition.

Tips on Using Invisalign Effectively

Using your clear aligners for the first time may be uncomfortable. Here are some tips to help you adjust during your first week:

  • Be trained on how to wear them correctly
  • Remember to take out your clear aligners when you eat and do not lose them
  • Do a thorough cleansing of your teeth after each time you eat
  • Practice learning how to pronounce certain letters like ‘s’ and ‘f’ while wearing your clear aligners

Cost of Invisalign

Invisalign Cost

The cost of Invisalign can be affected by several factors such as:

  • Complexity of your case
  • Doctors fees (Orthodontists charge higher than general dentists)

A complete treatment of Invisalign in Singapore that is performed by an orthodontist costs about $8,000 to $11,500.

A Comparison of Braces and Invisalign

If you are pondering whether to get the traditional braces or Invisalign to correct your misaligned teeth, check out this table to see a comparison of the pros and cons of both treatments.

TYPE OF BRACES

INVISALIGN

TRADITIONAL BRACES

PROS

  • Less noticeable
  • Easy to use and clean
  • Removable
  • Mouth is not prone to injury
  • No dietary restrictions
  • Strict discipline is needed when wearing the clear aligners (20 to 22 hours daily)
  • Cheap
  • Longer track record compared to Invisalign
  • Able to treat complex cases
  • No need to worry about losing the appliance as the braces are attached securely to the teeth

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Additional costs may be incurred when the clear aligners are lost and need to be replaced
  • Treatment may go out of track when the aligners are not used according to the instructed number of hours per day
  • Not compatible with very complicated cases
  • Metal braces look hideous
  • Difficult to clean
  • Certain dietary restrictions
  • Mouth is prone to injuries such as cuts and ulcers