How Invisalign Works
Invisalign works by using the same principles employed by traditional braces- it pushes your teeth into new positions, creating a beautiful smile by applying physical force to move each tooth in a specific direction. The difference between Invisalign aligners and traditional braces is that Invisalign is painless, convenient, and far less embarrassing.
Invisalign aligners don’t have to rely on permanently installing anything in your mouth! There’s no metal pieces (which cause sensitivity issues for some people), no wires, no rubber bands, no jaw expanders or any of the other nightmare components that make up the system of traditional braces. Does it require headgear? Nope!
Invisalign uses a series of plastic trays to nudge your teeth towards their proper positions. Each person’s treatment plan is different, because they are created specifically to suit the shape of your mouth and the problems with your teeth. Invisalign trays are replaced every two weeks so that the changes to your smile come gradually, painlessly, but also accurately.
Each Invisalign aligner nudges your teeth teeth up to 1 milimeter’s distance from where they currently sit. Some trays will work on all of your teeth at the same time, while others may only be used to shift a single tooth. What does that mean to you, the patient? You’ll barely feel the movement. In fact, you won’t experience any real pain, you won’t have to deal with the splitting headaches known to be caused by braces, and nothing more than tylenol will be required to dull any discomfort that you may experience.
The first couple of days that you use Invisalign, you will experience some soreness, but that is to be expected. You might not know it, but your teeth are held in place by tiny little pieces of tissue- muscles and ligaments- which prevent teeth from shifting around. When little kids lose their teeth, those muscles and ligaments get extremely weak, then give up trying to hold onto the tooth at all, which causes baby teeth to fall out.
When you start Invisalign treatments, your teeth are likely to be held rigidly in place by firm muscles and ligaments, which are not used to experiencing any sort of pressure applied to them. Those muscles and ligaments will loosen up over the period of your treatment, so that your teeth actually start to feel a little loose (I’m on my fifth set of trays and I can wiggle my teeth just a bit with my fingers now!).
Your first aligners will probably cause some tooth soreness because those ligaments will get stretched as the trays push your teeth into new positions. Remember though, since you’re only going to be moving teeth 1 millimeter at a time, it won’t leave you in crippling pain, but you will most likely experience some general soreness. As you move to your next set of trays, and the set after that, your teeth will become more pliable, those ligaments will loosen up, and you will experience less and less soreness with each ensuing aligner.
The process is gentle, it’s relatively convenient, and it definitely produces results. While I’m still extremely early into my treatment plan (I need to wear my aligners for over a year), I can already see massive improvements over what my smile previously looked like.
You may not enjoy wearing your Invisalign aligners, but you will be happy that you didn’t get traditional braces, and you will love the improvements to your smile. I cannot recommend this system enough, and not only because of the fact that its straightening my teeth to give me a Hollywood smile, but also because the Invisalign diet has helped me lose quite a bit of excess weight!
My Invisalign Review
I’ve been using Invisalign for about 10 weeks now (I honestly lost count!), and I can tell you that there’s very little pain involved. I would say it’s more like “discomfort” that you’ll experience, which is the discomfort of having something foreign in your mouth at all times, and feeling a bit of pressure for the first day or two after you insert each tray (every two weeks).
In the beginning, the process seems much harder than it ends up feeling down the line, because you’re not used to keeping things in your mouth for an extended period of time, you’re not used to brushing your teeth after every single meal, and you will need time to adjust to dealing with a new process in your every day life, but after a week or two it will become second nature.
My trays no longer bother me at all. They don’t pinch, they don’t a bad taste, they don’t even dry out my mouth. I’m able to work (even go to client meetings and run conference calls), run (without any additional dry-mouth like a mouthguard causes), kiss (very important!) and do all the other things that I could do before, and I can do it all without any pain or embarrassment that I would get from traditional braces. Perhaps the best part is that most people can’t even tell that I’m using Invisalign.
What is the Invisalign Process?
To start your Invisalign treatment process, you’ll meet with your dentist to take perfect molds of your upper and lower teeth. If you’ve ever had to get X-rays taken, I can tell you from first-hand experience that the process for generating Invisalign molds is similar, though far less obnoxious.
Your dentist will fill a mouthguard like piece of plastic with a gooey substance that is then pressed up against your top teeth, and down against your bottom teeth. The gooey stuff hardens quickly, but takes a couple minutes to perfectly shape out the exact contours of your teeth. It isn’t the most fun experience in the world, but it isn’t all that bad either. There’s no pain, but a little bit of discomfort.
You’ll be amazed at the perfection that the Invisalign molds are able to capture. When I glanced at the mold, I realized for the first time just how crooked my teeth were. You can see every little detail, every little nook and cranny, and all the lines and forms that your crooked teeth make- it’s amazing!
The dentist will then take photographs of your smile from a variety of angles, which he will package up along with the molds and send off to the Invisalign team. They use the molds that you created, along with those photos, to create a 3D-model of your mouth that will be used as the baseline for coming up with your Invisalign treatment plan.
Your next meeting with the dentist will involve reviewing your treatment plan, which gets put together by Invisalign’s experts, but has to be agreed upon by your dentist. He will use a computer model to show you exactly what needs to happen to create your perfect smile, what your teeth look like at each stage of the process (where they will be positioned each two weeks), and you’ll know exactly how long Invisalign will take to straighten your teeth.
If you agree to start Invisalign treatments, your Dentist will order the aligners which take about two weeks to arrive. All of your aligners get shipped to him at the same time, rather than once every two weeks, to save on production and shipping costs. That means that if anything goes really wrong during the course of your treatment, you’ll have to start the process over (because the aligners that were created up front may not work for your new situation).
The good news is that Invisalign allows you to re-start the process a number of times, depending on which plan you purchase from them. Since my teeth are so crooked, I went with the most expensive options (about $5,000), which allows me to restart the entire process (taking the molds, shipping them out for 3d modeling, reviewing the treatment plan, then having all the aligners shipped out to us), up to three times.
Is Invisalign Worth It?
Invisalign may not be the best option for everyone, but I do think it’s the best option for most people. Invisalign won’t fix all smiles, but it’s definitely begun working its magic for me. I’ll hold off on giving a final answer to whether or not it was worth it until after my treatment is complete (about a year from now), but so far, I’m completely satisfied.
Check back soon for more Invisalign posts, updates to my treatment, and before and after photos. I’ll be posting pictures of my mouth along the way as well (taking photos every two weeks to track my progress).
Thanks for visiting, and feel free to ask me any Invisalign questions that you may have in the comments section below.