Straighten Your Teeth The 'Invisible' WayStraighten Your Teeth The 'Invisible' Way

Straight teeth are healthier than crooked or crowded teeth which can interfere with eating and good oral hygiene. Braces have always been the best option for straightening teeth or correcting teeth that are overcrowded, and now with Invisalign® Braces, the process can be accomplished almost 'invisibly.'

Traditional braces use wires that are placed on the teeth and over time they loosen the ligament which surrounds the teeth, thus allowing the teeth to move or shift. The wire structures can be uncomfortable, painful and hard to clean, and it can be difficult to eat and even talk with metal braces in your mouth.

With Invisalign® the process is totally different. Instead of using wires to move your teeth, a series of clear aligners made from a thermoplastic material is created to accomplish movement of your teeth in steps. The aligners, which slip over your teeth, are changed every two weeks, and each aligner is a bit different than the last one, thus slowly coaxing your teeth into their ideal position. Unlike their metal counterparts, these clear aligners, which have to be worn for a minimum of twenty to twenty-two hours per day, are 'invisible' unless someone is standing very close to you. And they can be removed for eating and brushing and flossing your teeth. The normal time that the aligners will have to be worn is from six to twelve months. In some cases, it could be as long as eighteen months.

As with any braces, the Invisalign® process takes several steps. After assessing your teeth alignment and what needs to be accomplished with the braces, your dentist will use dental putty to take an impression of your teeth. This mold is then sent to a dental laboratory where a 3D digital model of your teeth is created. Special software is then used to create a simulation of your teeth from their current position to the desired position. From this simulation, a series of aligners is custom made to produce progressive movement with each aligner.

Once the series of aligners has been custom-designed for you in the dental lab, they are sent to your dentist along with the 3D simulation that allows you to see the way your teeth will be progressively moving. Your dentist will then give you the first of your aligners along with instructions for their use.

A patient's participation and full compliance is necessary for the Invisalign® process to be successful. It is imperative that the aligners are worn twenty to twenty-two hours a day and that the patient returns to the dentist's office every two weeks to receive their new aligners.

When an aligner is first placed, there may be a bit of discomfort because its purpose is to coax movement from your teeth, but the overall process is very comfortable. And because the invisible braces can be removed for eating and cleaning, they are extremely convenient.

Invisible braces work well for patients with overbites, underbites, crossbites, crooked teeth or teeth that are crowded or have gaps between them. However, if a patient has missing teeth or a lot of movement is required, invisible braces are not a good option. And they are not a good choice for children because of the patient participation that is required.

Because the Invisalign® aligners need to be removed while eating, during the entire process you can continue eating all of the foods you love and foods that are healthy for you. But it is necessary to brush your teeth after eating so that when the aligner is placed in your mouth, it does not trap food against your teeth which could cause tooth decay or gum disease.

Straight teeth help create a healthy mouth, and now you can align and correct your teeth almost 'invisibly.'
by Dr. Susan Wells
References and Bibliography
Dr. Susan Wells DMD has been practicing dentistry in Alabama since 1978. Although she treats patients for all aspects of general dentistry, the cosmetic procedures including traditional teeth straightening are what she enjoys the most. Visit her site at http://DrSusanWells.com.
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