Invisalign invisible braces

Reviewed by: Dr Michael Akere

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign is a revolutionary system for straightening crooked teeth and closing gaps between teeth. In many cases, Invisalign can get rid of the need for traditional metal-wire braces that have long been used in traditional orthodontic practice. The system utilises the latest in computerised technology and three-dimensional modelling to generate a series of clear, see-through aligners or “clear braces”. They are virtually unnoticeable, and are often referred to by many patients as “invisible braces”.  The clear aligners are specially fabricated to fit your teeth exactly, and over time, they move your teeth into a position that gives you a natural-looking, straight smile.

invisalign aligner
Photos showing the aligner being placed in the mouth (left) & animation showing the procedure (right).
photo of face crooked teeth before invisalign photo of face straight teeth after invisalign close up pitcture of crooked teeth close up photo of straight teeth after invisalign treatment
Invisalign before & after photos kindly donated by Dr Mark Hughes from Harley Street Dental Studio

So how does the Invisalign system work? It's simple:

  • You wear your aligners for 22 hours a day.
  • You remove your aligners to eat and brush your teeth.
  • Your teeth move slowly over time.
  • You change your aligners approximately every two weeks.
  • You have regular progress checks with your dentist or orthodontist.
  • Full treatment takes from six months to a year (sometimes 18 months).

Why is Invisalign better than metal braces?

Comfort – metal braces are usually more painful and can cause irritation and inflammation of the gums and soft tissue. The elastic bands and tightening forces used with metal braces can often cause discomfort. Although there may be slight discomfort when you start wearing Invisalign aligners, in general, most users find them very comfortable.

Convenience – this is probably one of the greatest advantages over traditional wire braces. You remove the aligners when you eat, thereby avoiding the problem of food getting trapped between wires and elastic bands. Invisalign also makes maintaining a good oral hygiene program much easier. With wire braces, cleaning your teeth is much more difficult – especially flossing between your teeth. The difficulty of flossing with metal braces means that most people will neglect this part of their cleaning, and this could lead to problems with bad breath, gum disease and tooth decay in the future.

Discreet – the aligners are virtually invisible to anyone unless they get very close to you, so hardly anyone will even notice that you are having treatment. This is one of the main reasons that has encouraged 1000s of adults to use the Invisalign system, as it won’t cause any disruption in their lifestyle.

Free consultation – the majority of Invisalign-certified dentists or orthodontists offer a free initial consultation so that they can assess your problem and discuss the treatment with you, giving you an idea of estimated costs and likely treatment time, without any obligation.

picture of face crooked front teeth photo of face straight front teeth after invisalign close up pitcture of crooked upper and lower teeth close up photo of straight teeth upper and lower teeth after invisalign treatment
Invisalign before & after photos kindly donated by Dr Mark Hughes from Harley Street Dental Studio

Can Invisalign be used for all orthodontic cases?

For the majority of crooked teeth problems, including overbites, underbites, crowding, crossbites and gaps between your teeth, Invisalign works very well. However, more severe orthodontic cases, where teeth extraction is perhaps required, or there is a lot of movement needed, Invisalign may not be appropriate. During your free consultation, your dentist will be able to tell you if you are suitable for Invisalign. In very severe cases, traditional wire braces, friction-free Damon braces or lingual braces may need to be used to correct your tooth alignment.

picture of face gaps in front teeth photo of face straight front teeth after invisalign close up pitcture of large gaps between front teeth closed a gap between front teeth after invisalign treatment
Invisalign before & after photos kindly donated by Dr Raha Sepehrara from The Dental Suite in Leicester

What is the procedure?

  • After an initial consultation and assessment of your smile and teeth alignment, your Invisalign dentist will take an impression (mould) of your teeth using a special “dental putty” and take several photographs of your teeth and smile from different angles.
  • A 3D digital model of your teeth is then created at the Invisalign laboratory using a CT scanner.
  • Using the latest patented software, the model is used as a basis to generate a simulation of your teeth movement from their current position to the final desired position.
  • This simulation is then used as the basis to design your aligners, which are custom-made for your teeth and will be changed every two weeks as your teeth move little by little.
  • Your newly fabricated aligners will then be sent back to your dentist, along with the 3D simulation, so that you can see for yourself the expected movement of your teeth over time.
  • Your dentist will give you strict instructions on how to use the aligners. They must be worn for a minimum of 20 hours a day; the success of the treatment is highly dependent on your compliance as a patient and requires dedication.
  • You will have regular checkups with your dentist to ensure that your treatment is going as initially planned.
crooked front teeth straight front teeth after invisalign braces close up pitcture of crooked upper teeth close up photo of straight teeth after invisible braces treatment
Invisalign before & after photos kindly donated by Dr Raha Sepehrara from The Dental Suite in Leicester.

How much does Invisalign cost?

This depends on the severity of your case, where you go for the treatment and the skill of your dentist/orthodontist. During your free consultation, you should be given an accurate indication of likely costs for your particular case. Treatment costs on average vary between £1,500 to £5,000+

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