March 3, 2021

Is Invisalign Really Effective?

Peri Elgrot

Top 10 Invisible Braces Editor

When people read about the claims of Invisalign, they sometimes find it hard to believe it possible. Is it really possible to get straight and beautiful pearly whites without wires and metal brackets?

Invisalign has been around for more than two decades. However, most adults are still not familiar with the idea of invisible braces or clear teeth aligners. Many generations grew up with only traditional metal braces as an option for straighter teeth. We all know how metal braces look like. We know that it involves wires, brackets, and some amount of pain. This is why some people doubt whether a set of plastic trays can actually do what metal braces do.

Is Invisalign really effective? We’ll take deeper dive at some factors to consider when it comes to Invisalign. How does the treatment process work? Is Invisalign a good option for everyone?

How effective is Invisalign?

A common misconception about Invisalign is that they can only treat minor issues like gapping and crowding. However, Invisalign is capable of treating more serious cases such as overbite, underbite, crossbite, and open bite just like metal braces do. For traditional braces, complicated and severe issues are resolved by adding spacers, expanders, or even headgear. Invisalign can correct turned teeth, spacing, crowding, and other issues that traditional braces often treat.

Compared to when clear teeth aligners first came out in the market, Invisalign is now able to treat a wider variety of issues. At the start, clear teeth aligners were only used in minor cases. The more complicated and severe issues would often be advised to get traditional metal braces. As their technology developed and their product grew more popular, Invisalign has managed to match the capability of traditional metal braces. Invisalign also offers attachments in addition to the clear aligners for more complicated cases. These attachments give orthodontists and dentists more room to work with when using Invisalign.

What Types of Cases Can Invisalign Treat?

In general, Invisalign is an effective option for a wide array of alignment issues such as gaps, protruding teeth, crooked teeth, and even more complex cases of malocclusion such as underbite, overbite, and crossbite.

1. Gap teeth

Gap teeth is a spacing issue where there is an extra space bet two or more teeth. Although gapping between the teeth does not sound like a major issue, the spaces between the teeth will act as pockets where food can get stuck. When food gets stuck in hard-to-reach areas, it can lead to cavities and tooth decay.

2. Overbite

When someone has an overbite, their upper front teeth are overlapping with the lower front teeth. Majority of people have some minimal overbite. When the overbite is too deep, it can lead to problems such as pain in the jaw and teeth being worn down.

3. Underbite

When someone has an underbite, it means that the lower front teeth are protruding over the upper front teeth when the mouth is closed. An underbite can make it harder to speak clearly and properly chew food. It can also cause to quickly become weak.

4. Open bite

Open bite is when the top and bottom teeth are not touching even when the mouth is closed. People with an open bite will also often find it hard to bite into and chew food such as apples.

5. Crossbite

Crossbite is when the upper jaw and lower jaw are not properly aligned. You’ll see some of the upper teeth sit inside the lower teeth instead of outside. A crossbite can also wear down the teeth and even cause the gums to recede. These complications can lead to bone loss and painful gum issues.

If not managed properly, all of these conditions and issues can cause gum disease, tooth decay, tooth loss, and even exacerbate some jaw problems.

How Invisalign Works?

Compared to traditional metal braces which use wires to pull and push teeth into the proper or correct alignment, Invisalign uses clear plastic trays to do the job. Clear teeth aligners, such as Invisalign, are made of plastic that is customized to fit the unique set of teeth of the patient. Invisalign uses a 3D technology that allows dentists and orthodontists to formulate a customized treatment plan that they can follow step by step. With this treatment plan, you will have an idea of what would happen throughout. Your dentist or orthodontist can also check if you are progressing according to the plan or if there are any changes that you need to make.

When you decide to start the treatment, the first thing you need to do is to have your clear aligners produced. This set of clear aligners is custom-fitted to your mouth. Every few weeks you will need to change the clear aligners in order to progress according to the treatment plan.

Dentists and orthodontists would often remind their patients of the difference between Invisalign and traditional metal braces. One of these key differences is that an Invisalign treatment may take longer to complete than traditional metal braces. This is because metal is definitely stronger than plastic. Since the clear aligners are made of plastic, it is only natural that the treatment will advance at a slower pace.

One of the positive points of using clear aligners is that patients would feel less pain and discomfort compared to having traditional braces. How? Well, since the clear aligners are plastic and apply relatively weaker pressure than metal, the force applied to push and pull the teeth is gentler.

Another upside to using Invisalign is that you can take out the clear aligners if you need to brush your teeth or just want to clean the set of aligners you are using. As long you maintain the clear aligners in good condition, they will be unnoticeable when you are wearing them. This gets rid of the self-conscious thoughts one might have when wearing metal braces. This is one of the major focuses of Invisalign’s teen systems. The company knows that teens that need to wear braces often struggle and feel self-conscious.

Unlike Invisalign clear aligners, removing braces is not possible until you reach the end of the treatment. You also need to use special brushes to keep the brackets clean.

What Can Cause Invisalign Treatment to Fail?

One of the biggest downsides to using Invisalign is that it requires total compliance from the patients in order to be effective. This means that the patient should wear their aligners for the prescribed number of hours, which is actually the majority of the 24 hours a day. Sometimes, though patients will forget to wear their clear aligners after taking them out when they have lunch or brush their teeth.

Invisalign becomes most effective if the patient wears it for more than 22 hours a day. If a patient wears the clear aligners for less than 20 hours a day, they may not be as effective and delay the progress of the treatment. If the clear aligners are taken off longer than necessary, the teeth can slowly shift back to their natural positions throughout the day.

People who are using aftercare retainers after they had their metal braces taken out will sometimes say that the retainers feel tighter when they wear them during the night. This happens because, in the more than 12 hours that they went without retainers, the teeth have slowly moved back to their natural position.

If the patient continues to wear their clear aligners for fewer hours of the day, they will slow down the progress until they no longer see any results. It is recommended to take off clear aligners when eating or brushing and flossing teeth. For patients who are forgetful or who find it hard to comply with this instruction, it is better to choose metal braces since they don’t need to be taken off and put back on. However, the problem of people with metal braces is compliance with the dietary limits and cleaning routine.

What Do You Need for Aftercare?

Invisalign, and even metal braces, doesn’t end when the clear aligners are finally taken off. Patients will need to wear an aftercare retainer in order to maintain the proper alignment of teeth. Some patients will only need to wear a retainer on either the top or bottom teeth while some would need a complete set. There are two general types of retainers. These are removable and fixed. The removable retainers are normally worn for up to one year. Meanwhile, fixed retainers are normally worn for several years. These are attached to the back of the teeth by using cement.

There are two common materials used for retainers:

• Clear – Clear retainers are made of plastic that is molded to fit the teeth. Similar to clear aligners, this type of retainer is highly discreet. This makes them a very popular option.

• Acrylic –Acrylic retainers are the most commonly used type. Acrylic retainers are constructed from bendable acrylic and wire which can also be adjusted. Acrylic retainers are also offered in a variety of styles and colors.

Which One Should You Choose: Invisalign or Metal Braces?

Choosing between Invisalign and metal braces should be consulted with your dental care provider. The two types of treatment are comparable in price. Although traditional metal braces can take faster to complete, getting Invisalign treatment promises less discomfort and pain for the patient. Invisalign is ultimately the more discreet option for those who are self-conscious about the process of getting straighter teeth.

Always consult with a dentist or orthodontist to see which type of treatment would suit you better. If your dentist approves and you can make sure that you don’t forget to wear your clear aligners, then by all means go for an Invisalign treatment. If you are not as concerned about aesthetics and just want a solution to your alignment problems, traditional metal braces are a good option too.