Survival Guide: Invisalign

If you aren’t already aware of the Invisalign clear aligner system, you should be! Thacker Orthodontics is proud to offer patients this exciting alternative to traditional braces. Invisalign produces the same beautiful results as braces, but doesn’t use any brackets, wires, or bands. This means Invisalign patients enjoy a freedom and flexibility that simply isn’t available with other treatment options, making it particularly attractive to teens and adults.

Are you ready to take the first step towards achieving the straighter smile you’ve always wanted? If so, you’ll know how exciting it can be, but you may also feel a little overwhelmed. This is especially common if you don’t know much about Invisalign or what to expect from the orthodontic process. We want you to feel confident in your decision to pursue treatment with our practice, so let’s take a closer look at what Invisalign actually is, how it works, and how clear aligners can give you a smile you’ll want to share with everyone around you!

What is Invisalign?

Traditional braces use brackets, wires, and bands to move the teeth into more desirable positions. They are a fixed appliance, meaning the brackets are affixed directly to the teeth and can only be removed by an orthodontist. In contrast, Invisalign utilizes a series of removable clear aligners. These aligners are made of a special thermoplastic resin that is custom-designed to fit snugly and comfortably over your own teeth. Because they are removable and nearly invisible, Invisalign aligners can be an excellent alternative to traditional braces.

How does Invisalign actually work?

Dr. Jim or Dr. MaryEvan will need to examine your mouth first to determine if you’re a good fit for Invisalign. If you are, we’ll begin the process of custom designing your aligners using a highly-detailed 3D scan of your teeth and gums. This scan will allow us to map out a precise treatment plan that will include the exact movements we want your teeth to make, and will also give us an indication of how long we expect treatment to take.

The aligners themselves are created from a special SmartTrack® material, which is strong but still fits comfortably over your own teeth. Because each patient responds to treatment in their own way, the total number of aligners required will vary from case to case. On average, however, patients tend to need anywhere from 18-30 aligners over the course of their treatment. Treatment times will also vary depending on your specific needs, but in general, the process can take anywhere from 9-15 months. Keep in mind, however, that this could be longer or shorter depending on your particular case.

Patient compliance plays a big role in how successful your Invisalign treatment will be! Because the Invisalign aligners are removable, it’s up to you to wear them exactly as directed by our doctors. To work properly and produce the best results, aligners must be worn for at least 20-22 hours every day throughout treatment. You should only remove them to eat or drink anything other than water, or when you are brushing and flossing.

Aligners will need to be switched out for the next in the series at predetermined intervals to keep up with the movements your teeth are making. This will usually be every 1-2 weeks, depending on your personalized treatment plan. Regular check-ups are also part of the treatment process, just like they are with braces. You can expect follow-up appointments with us every 6-10 weeks or so. During these visits, Dr. Jim or Dr. MaryEvan will check to be sure everything is proceeding according to your treatment plan, so it’s important not to miss them!

Dr. MaryEvan talking to a patient's dad

Caring for Invisalign aligners

Whether you’re an orthodontic patient or not, it’s important to keep your teeth and gums healthy. While this can sometimes be frustrating and time-consuming when you’re wearing braces, it couldn’t be easier to achieve with Invisalign! Simply remove the aligner before brushing and flossing the way you normally would. We recommend that all of our orthodontic patients brush at least twice a day for two minutes each time, and floss every night before bed.

It’s important to take care of your aligners, too. Dried saliva and plaque breed bacteria, so you should rinse your aligner every time you take it out. To keep the trays clear and sanitized, you can soak them in denture cleaner or with special Invisalign cleaning crystals. Brushing your aligners is another option, just be sure to do so gently and carefully. Brushing too hard can scratch your aligners and leave visible etchings.

You never need to use toothpaste to clean your aligners. In fact, this can damage the material. Many toothpaste brands have abrasive agents that are great for giving you sparkling teeth, but can actually dull aligners or create small openings for bacteria to grow in them.

The best candidates for Invisalign

Invisalign can be a great option for many of the most common orthodontic issues in teens and adults. For cases that are more severe or complex, we may recommend other treatment methods. When you schedule a free consultation with our Cincinnati office, we’ll be able to determine if Invisalign would be a good fit for you and your smile.

What happens once Invisalign treatment is complete?

Whatever treatment method you choose, your teeth will always retain memories of their previous place in your mouth. Over time, they’ll naturally begin drifting back towards those original positions. This is why retainers are so important! Once you’ve finished the active phase of Invisalign treatment, we’ll provide you with a retainer and advise you on how to wear it for long-lasting results. Wearing your retainer as directed will help prevent any natural drifting and keep your newly straightened smile in place!

Thacker Office

Find your best smile with Invisalign and Thacker  Orthodontics

Here at Thacker Orthodontics, we’re committed to providing all our patients with a positive and stress-free orthodontic experience. While Invisalign can take a little getting used to, the aligners will soon be just one more part of your daily routine! Remember that if you ever have any questions or concerns about your treatment plan or the Invisalign system, Dr. Jim, Dr. MaryEvan, and the rest of our talented team are happy to help. For more information on how Invisalign could benefit your smile, give us a call to schedule a FREE consultation, and take the first step towards your best smile!