Traditionally, patients have had to have metal dental braces installed in order to correct the alignment of their teeth. This method requires securing pieces of metal to the teeth that are adjusted over the course of treatment by tightening the wires that connect each bracket, until the teeth are arranged in the desired manner.
An alternative to this method is Invisalign, which is a set of removable teeth aligners that are clear and, as such, are often selected for this cosmetic advantage. They are said to be more comfortable than traditional alignment and have the additional advantage of not causing damage or discomfort to the soft tissues, as well as decreased tooth decay since patients remove the aligner in order to clean teeth and to eat.
Success of this treatment depends entirely upon the patient’s cooperation since they must be worn for most of the day and only removed during eating, drinking, and when the patient needs to brush their teeth. The device will need to be cleaned as well when it is taken off during teeth brushing.
The downside to this treatment is that it is much more expensive than traditional metal braces, which could be an issue if the patient doesn’t have the insurance to cover the costs.
What is this device made out of? Invisalign uses polyurethane. Allergic reactions occasionally occur but are very, very rare; if the patient experiences nausea, a sore throat, coughing, or swelling, they must seek medical treatment and discontinue use of their Invisalign device. This is a very rare occurrence, however, and is not something that one should worry too much about unless they have had similar reactions to polyurethane-containing products in the past.
How much does Invisalign treatment cost? This varies from patient-to-patient and dentist-to-dentist. A good average to consider is anywhere between $3,000 to $10,000 – a more complex case will be more expensive.
What’s involved in the treatment? First, an impression of the patient’s teeth must be taken, as well as x-rays and photographs. These items are sent to Align Technology, which uses them to create a three-dimensional model of the patient’s teeth. This, in turn, is sent off again and the model teeth are moved to the final position that the orthodontist has described. Stages from start to desired finish are produced in specialized computer software, which the orthodontist checks online, and once approved the resulting aligners are sent to the orthodontist – one for each stage of development.
Treatment can take up to a year, sometimes longer, and once treatment is complete the patient will need to wear a retainer for a certain period of time. The retainer is usually only worn at night, though this will depend upon the individual dentist and the patient’s needs.
In short, Invisalign is an effective method for teeth alignment – if one can afford it. Traditional metal bracers are still available and are much more affordable, but can cause more damage to the teeth than what Invisalign might. In the end, it falls to the preference of the patient.