Personal Care

InvisAlign: An invisible removable alternative to dental braces

Dental braces are something most adults could not imagine using on a daily basis for a long period of time. This is due to aesthetics and unpractical nature of braces. There are not that many who can put up with chunky metal strings and brackets showing in their mouth every time they smile or talk not to mention lisping and other difficulties when talking.

In the recent years, doing orthodontic work on one’s teeth has gained more popularity. There is also a shift in reasoning behind getting braces in the last decade or more. Traditionally one would do orthodontics strictly due to malocclusions and functional problems in the bite pattern. But in the last decade or so, people would accept wearing braces more and more due to esthetic concerns like crooked or crowded teeth. Suddenly having straight “Hollywood White” teeth has become a crucial part of the ideal of beauty in our modern times.

This huge focus on esthetics of smile has made it necessary to come up with more delicate and acceptable devices to straighten the teeth without setting off the metal detectors at airports. This alternative would also remove the hygienic and health-deteriorating downsides of fixed appliances, downsides like increased risk of dental cavities, inflammation of gums, and root-resorption.

Braces                                               Clear Aligners

Fig. 1

These concerns came to give birth to removable clear aligners. Align Technology was the earliest provider of such aligners which consist a series of individually tightly fitted trays that move (or tip) the teeth into the correct position little by little. If you ask your dentist about InvisAlign, you will get all the info you need to have about these clear aligners. InvisAlign, like many other clear aligner systems, makes use of a limited and calculated reduction of tooth width in order to make space for the movement of the teeth. This reduces the need for movement of all the teeth in the mouth in order to align them in the correct occlusion. Each aligner moves or rather tips the teeth by up to 0.3mm.

Fig. 2

 The common ground for all clear aligner systems is that the patient must wear them at least 20 hours each day. The duration of the treatment depends on the extent and difficulty of the malocclusion. Minor crowding (crooked teeth), rotating or tipping of the crowns are usually treated with a set of 14 aligners stretched across 14 weeks (every aligner must be worn for a week). More complicated issues in biting pattern that involves the molars in the posterior, requires the dentist to have the “advanced” certification. These more complicated cases may need a set of 30 or 40 aligners. And of course the treatment will take longer (up to 6-8 months).

There is though certain limitations to this orthodontic system (clear aligners). The clear aligners cannot move the whole tooth structure. They can only tip the crowns (and also the root at some limited extend) and rotate them to a degree. In order to move the whole tooth structure to rehabilitate complicated malocclusions, there is usually a need for fixed appliances.

Fig. 3

 If you were to decide to straighten your teeth no matter type of the treatment, it is important to remember that, when the treatment is finished, you will have to have retainers for as long as you want your teeth straight. The most commonly used retainer is a metal string (fig. 3) that your dentist attaches on the palatal surface of the teeth canine to canine. These metal strings that are fixed to the teeth will hold the teeth in their new position and prevent fallback.

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