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Invisalign: Everything You Need To Know

Since the invention of metal braces in the early 1800’s, people have loathed the frustrating, drawn-out process of a mouth full of metal in order to achieve a straight smile. If you ask anyone who currently has braces, you will discover there are countless ways to label braces as a “necessary evil.”

Stanford orthodontist student, Zia Chishti (zi-a chis-tee) was no different than the hundreds of thousands who had gone before him. As he got fitted for his retainer after his braces were removed, he came to realize that, with some specific modifications, the retainer could adjust his teeth in much the same way as the metal braces had. At the time, retainers were the old-fashioned kind which completely encased your teeth with hard plastic, and wires loop around your teeth to keep them in place.

It was then that Invisalign’s concept first began as Chishti weighed the benefits of a removable substitute for braces. As an orthodontic student himself, he was able to determine the exact way teeth would be affected with his new invention, but like most groundbreaking inventors, Chishti realized his ideas would go much further if he tapped into the expertise of his colleagues.

His first partner was a student by the name of Kelsey Wirth, who was also a student at Stanford. Over the following year, Chishti and Wirth spent a large amount of their time conducting research and trials of their product.

Along the way, the two partners shared their invention with developers who provided them with two other colleagues to further their goals. With the addition of Apostolos Lerios and Brian Freyburger, the team was able to access the 3D equipment at Stanford. Funny enough, the orthodontic treatment that has taken the world by storm was established in one of the team member’s garage in Menlo Park, California.

In 1997, with all four orthodontists invested in the completion of Chishti’s dream, they were able to put their heads together and develop a substantially-sound result. The inclusion of 3D printing allowed the team to create a worthwhile example of how the clear aligners could mimic the same treatment as traditional braces.

In a year’s time, the small Invisalign team presented their product to the FDA, gaining support and permission to sell the aligners to the public. As is all too common in any developing field, orthodontic companies were skeptical that the new invention would be worth pursuing, but the public was greatly attracted to the option of nearly-invisible braces, making the orthodontic world pay more attention to Invisalign than originally intended.

After a much needed aggressive marketing plan being executed to assist the company in making a sustainable profit, the company made millions of dollars off their product. It took a few more years for the team to see a substantial climb in clients, but the Chishti’s initial team continued to network and improve their product.

By 2004, over 175,000 clients had chosen Invisalign, integrating orthodontic programs to include the Invisalign process into their training protocol. By 2008, Invisalign’s treatment had reached into the millions, and the numbers continue to climb.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

How Are Invisalign Aligners Made?

Invisalign is the leading brand for clear aligners, and though not the cheapest option, it is by far the most cost-effective option. But, you may be wondering, what makes Invisalign different than traditional braces? The simple and obvious answer is the materials make the biggest difference. It’s those materials which make your nearly-invisible solution to fixing your pearly whites possible. So how does it work?

In the very beginning, Chishti and his small team experimented with hundreds of different combinations of materials and sequences of trials. As each experiment led them to make changes which make the Invisalign process even more customer-friendly than the last, there are three things that make Invisalign the quality product we trust today

SmartTrack Material: SmartTrack is a thermoplastic medical-grade plastic material created and patented specifically for your Invisalign experience. The flexible material allows Invisalign to better conform to your teeth and give them the correct amount of pressure to incrementally move your teeth to the desired position. This type of material also allows dentists to best track and control the movement of each tooth as needed.

SmartStaging Technology: This technology in your Invisalign care better guarantees that your teeth move exactly how and when they need to in order to optimize the best outcome. The science behind this tool make it just that much easier for your trained and experienced dentist to more accurately predict how long you will need to wear Invisalign in order to achieve your most eye-catching smile.

SmartForce Features: This component is an as-needed tool which allows Invisalign to assist unique cases which may need more assistance because of tooth shape or other smaller differences. Tools such as buttons are tooth-colored attachments which add extra pressure for teeth when they need an additional amount of pressure in order to align correctly.

Other features which Invisalign offer to make your Invisalign journey a success are things such as bite ramps, precision cuts, or power ridges. All of these are possible tools your dentist may choose to use in your treatment which, in the end, will give you a smile you can be proud to own.

Despite having millions of successful cases and absolutely thrilled customers, Invisalign may not be ideal for everyone. However, with materials which have been expertly designed, refined, and implemented, you can rest assured that Invisalign is a trustworthy, worthwhile alternative for your orthodontic needs.

If you are someone who doesn’t enjoy the idea of carrying on your career while sporting a mouthful of metal, the materials behind Invisalign allow you the greatest chance at the smile of your dreams with a boosted confidence in the process!

Who Can Use Invisalign?

Woman Holding Invisalign Tray

Since Invisalign has continuously improved their product, it may be easy to believe the innovative alternative to braces is the best idea for everyone. Invisalign is fantastically user-friendly for older teenagers and adults. After all, it takes a large amount of commitment to faithfully keep the removable aligners on your teeth for 20-22 hours a day, only removing them to clean them or for meals.

If you’re a parent of a teen, you are more than aware of how nervous your child may be over the idea of surviving high school while sporting traditional braces. Invisalign sounds like an appealing alternative, right? Many parents have been concerned about their teen’s ability to stick to the requirements of Invisalign, but there’s even better news!

Invisalign Teen is the same exact principle, material, and process as Invisalign, but there is a small blue dot on the back of your child’s aligner which fades over time with proper amount of use. This is a great way for you as a parent to assist your child in staying accountable and benefiting from Invisalign completely.

When you take your teen in for his/her consultation, be sure to address any sports your child is in. For low-contact sports, you can wear your aligners without any problems, but high-contact sports may open up a discussion about which mouth guard would be best for your child to use.

In contrast to teenagers, many older adults have been falsely told that Invisalign is not an option for them due to health problems that often arise with older age. While there are some health concerns that could impede the Invisalign process, senior citizens are perfectly capable of wearing Invisalign aligners.

As long as you are keeping up with good dental hygiene and wear your aligners for the required time, age should not play a factor in getting the smile you want. With that said, some things that might get in the way of effective treatment plans are missing teeth, decreased bone density, or persistent gum disease. If you suffer from any of these conditions, you may require additional treatment before being fitted for Invisalign. Make sure you contact your local dentist and orthodontic offices before making any decisions.

So, what type of dental issues can Invisalign address and fix? Invisalign is best know for fixing:

You may appreciate researching the capability of Invisalign assisting you in getting the smile of your dreams by doing Invisalign’s online smile assessment. Though this tool is a great first step to understanding what Invisalign could do for you, the team at East Center Dental in Kosciusko County would love to serve you and share with you their friendly and knowledgeable expertise to help you move forward with ultimate confidence.

Invisalign may sound like it’s too good to be true at this point. Although it is in fact an amazing alternative to traditional braces which has taken the world by storm, there are a few limitations which could make Invisalign less capable to straighten your smile.

The most common limitations are:

Tooth shaping: Because the aligners fit snuggly over your entire tooth, some teeth may be too rounded or too pointed to allow the aligners to grip your teeth correctly. If this is true of your teeth, that doesn’t mean your Invisalign journey is out of the question, but there are certain limits which your dentist can assess correctly during your initial consultation.

Tooth rotation: If your teeth are crowded, it’s possible some of your teeth have rotated in order to fit in place. Invisalign can work around some of those cases, however, if your molars are rotated more than 20 degrees, this may present an issue.

Previous Dental Work: As an adult looking into Invisalign, it’s likely most potential users have had previous dental work done. Invisalign can often work around tooth fillings, however, if your crowns aren’t firmly in place and placed correctly, that could slow the process down as those issues need fixed before pursuing Invisalign.

There are other limitations in regard to Invisalign interacting with dental work such as bridges and veneers, but again, your dentist can advise you correctly for what that means for you.

In the end, your best and safest bet is to allow the dental team at East Center Dental determine those limitations for you. It’s never a bad time to take the leap and set up a consultation to see what Invisalign can do for you.

Overall Invisalign Process

Woman holding Invisalign tray in front of her mouth

If you decided moving forward with Invisalign is the best investment for your future, you may be wondering what to expect the process to look like. As you may expect, the duration of the treatment depends on how much your teeth need to be adjusted to gain the desired alignment. On average, the Invisalign process takes around a year. More severe cases can take up to 18 months total. So, what does becoming an Invisalign customer entail?

Invisalign is a dentist-based treatment plan, which is one of the main reasons the Invisalign journey is so highly acclaimed for its accuracy. All that means for you is your initial step will be to meet with your dentist for a consultation.

During this appointment, your dentist will take a pain-free, 3D image of your teeth and mouth. This will help pinpoint exactly what and how your teeth need to realign correctly. This would also be the time to point out any concerns you may have with how your teeth will react to the Invisalign aligners. Each dentist is highly trained and experienced in Invisalign, so you can rest assured they can explain any curiosities or concerns you may have.

Shortly after your first appointment, you will receive your clear aligners. It’s most common to wear each tray for two weeks before changing to the next progressive tray. As previously discussed, Invisalign wearers are asked to wear their aligners 20-22 hours a day, only removing them to eat, brush, or when drinking something other than cool water. If the trays are worn for any shorter amount of time per day, it will potentially extend the length you will be required to wear the trays in entirety.

The first few hours your teeth are fit with a new tray, you may experience slight discomfort as your teeth adjust to the new placement. Because of this, it is often suggested you make the change between each progressive tray before bedtime so you can sleep through those initial hours. Whether you decide to do so or not, be encouraged! That discomfort won’t last forever!

Whether you have the buttons as a part of your treatment or not, it is of the upmost importance you brush your teeth after every meal (travel toothbrush, anyone?), remove your trays before drinking anything other than water, and clean and store your aligners correctly. If you neglect taking out your aligners to eat, forget brushing your teeth after every meal, or drink liquids known for dying your teeth, you could potentially discolor both your aligners and buttons.

If that happens, the “nearly-invisible” asset of Invisalign may be less applicable for you, so be cautious, and keep a travel toothbrush with you at all times.

Other than that, you can keep all your regular day-to-day routines and carry on with confidence that you are investing in a smile you can be proud of!

Throughout the entirety of your Invisalign treatment, your dentist will want to see you, on average, every six weeks in order to check your progress and make sure everything is going as planned.

What Should I Know About the Invisalign Lifestyle?

While Invisalign is relatively low maintenance, especially when compared to traditional braces, you will have to adjust to some lifestyle changes while completing your treatment.

Many Invisalign patients struggle to maintain fresh breath during their treatment. When wearing Invisalign, the simplest way to keep your breath fresh is to keep up with basic, everyday maintenance. For example, always brush and floss your teeth after eating. If your current toothpaste just isn’t cutting it, try toothpastes that have anti-plaque ingredients like zinc citrate and fluoride.

Additionally, you need to clean your aligners on a regular basis. You can easily clean your aligners at home with a gentle, antibacterial soap and a soft-bristle toothbrush. If you want to go the extra step, your dentist will most likely offer Invisalign cleaning kits that you can purchase.

In order to maintain fresh breath, clean aligners, and a beautiful smile, experts also recommend avoiding tobacco products whenever possible. If you do use tobacco products, make sure you remove your aligners and brush your teeth immediately after use.

As an Invisalign wearer, you might need to make adjustments to some of your favorite pastimes.

For example, if you’re a singer or play any type of wind instrument, you’ll have to adapt to practicing your hobby while wearing aligners.

Thankfully, Invisalign is very flexible when compared to traditional braces. If you need to participate in an important musical or singing recital, you can simply remove your aligners for a short period of time.

Also, while it might feel strange at first, you are perfectly capable of singing and playing instruments while wearing Invisalign. Since your aligners are formed to fit the contours of your mouth, the aligners really won’t get in your way. Again, it just might take some time adjusting to the feel.

You might feel a little uncomfortable caring for your Invisalign aligners at first. However, in the long run, Invisalign can improve many aspects of your life. There’s no doubt that once you’ve finished your Invisalign treatment, you’ll get a big confidence boost. A bright set of pearly whites can help improve your dating life, work performance, and overall health.

What Happens When I Complete My Treatment?

Finally, what happens after my Invisalign treatment is completed? For one, you’ll receive a clear plastic retainer, sort of like the aligners you’ve been wearing during your Invisalign treatment. Your dentist will most likely have you wear this retainer every night when you sleep to make sure your teeth don’t shift back into their former position. And you definitely don’t want that to happen.

Additionally, you’ll want to keep up with your regular dental care. This means, schedule your dentist appointments every six months to make sure your teeth are healthy and responding to the Invisalign treatment well.

If you live in or near Kosciusko County, Indiana, the team at East Center Dental will be with you every step of the way. You can be as confident of their passion and assistance as you are that, with Invisalign, your smile will be one everyone remembers.

Contact East Center Dental today!