Invisalign braces are clear, removable orthodontic braces, as opposed to traditional metal braces that must remain in place until the end of treatment. These proprietary braces are manufactured by Align Technology and more than 48,000 orthodontists have been trained in their use as of 2008. Invisalign braces have significant pros and cons compared to traditional braces, which you must consider carefully before selecting this orthodontic treatment.
The appearance of Invisalign braces is their most obvious advantage. All components of these braces are transparent, making them much harder to see than metal braces. This property makes Invisalign braces especially popular with adults, who typically don’t want their braces to be apparent to other people.
Invisalign braces are removable, which provides additional advantages over other braces. The wearer typically removes them before eating and cleaning, which prevents the accumulation of food on the braces. This also means that Invisalign braces don’t place restrictions on the types of food that the wearer may eat.
The Invisalign protocol includes computerized planning, which provides the orthodontist with much greater control over the course of treatment. The length of treatment, treatment progress and the end result are all more predictable when using Invisalign braces.
Invisalign braces require more discipline on the part of the wearer than other types of braces since they can be removed. These braces must be worn for at least 20 hours each day for maximum effectiveness. The wearer’s teeth must also be cleaned before Invisalign braces can be re-inserted, which can become time consuming.
The Invisalign system is generally more expensive than traditional braces. The ability to remove these braces means they can become lost or misplaced, so the wearer should have a spare set to prepare for this eventuality. The Invisalign treatment provides wearers with two containers for their braces.
Invisalign braces work by applying direct pressure against the teeth. This makes them unsuitable for moving the teeth in certain ways, especially vertical movement. Teeth such as premolars have rounded edges, which may be difficult for the aligners of Invisalign braces to grab.
A dentist takes various images of the patient’s teeth, including impressions, photographs and x-rays. These images are sent to Align Technology, which uses them to create a three-dimensional model of the patient’s teeth. A variety of specialists use this model to develop a treatment plan that will move the teeth into their desired position as instructed by the dentist. The orthodontist reviews the treatment plan online and modifies it as needed. The components of the Invisalign braces are manufactured and sent to the dentist once the orthodontist approves the final design.
The patient may receive up to 14 attachments that are bonded to the teeth. These attachments, also known as buttons, are the same color as the teeth to make them difficult to see. A series of rubber bands attach to the buttons and create the desired movement of the teeth. Treatment with Invisalign braces typically requires approximately one year, depending on the amount of movement the teeth must make.