Invisalign is a modern alternative to the traditional metal braces for aligning teeth. For most people, the amount of time it takes to straighten the teeth and the cost of braces and Invisalign are comparable. However, Invisalign has at least one advantage over braces.
Invisalign is a series of transparent, custom-made, plastic trays that the patient wears for 23 hours a day. The trays are changed as the teeth come into alignment. The schedule for this is roughly every two weeks.
Unlike braces, Invisalign can be easily removed by the patient. This allows them to eat whatever foods they want and to take care of their daily oral hygiene without the need for special brushes or more than the usual level of attention. Because the trays are transparent, they can only be seen by someone very close to the patient and maybe not even then. This is an incentive for people who find braces unsightly. Moreover, though braces can also be transparent or match the color of the patient’s teeth, they still have the drawbacks of metal braces.
Invisalign trays are more comfortable to wear than regular braces, as they do not have the wires or brackets that irritate the inside of the patient’s mouth. Patients may find the Invisalign tray a bit tight-fitting at first, but the comfort increases as their teeth come into alignment.
Patients who use Invisalign also do not need to visit their orthodontist as often as patients who wear braces. This is because the teeth of patients who wear braces are subject to food and bacteria getting stuck behind the brackets and need special care. The orthodontist may need to make adjustments to the braces themselves if the patient finds them very uncomfortable, if wires or brackets are broken or for other reasons.
Because the patient has such control over their trays, many dentists believe that Invisalign can ultimately save a person’s teeth, especially if they are a younger person. Straightening teeth can take up to two years. During that time a person who wears braces not only has to take extra care of their dental hygiene, but there are foods that they can’t eat. These foods tend to be crunchy or sticky and may be foods they enjoyed before they had braces. If the patient grows frustrated with their braces and the regimen imposed on them, they may neglect their oral hygiene. This leads to the growth of a bacterial film called plaque on the teeth and under the brackets. If plaque is not removed, it can penetrate the tooth enamel and cause decay. It can also cause gum disease, sometimes to the point where the bone beneath the gum itself is destroyed and can no longer support the teeth, even if they are healthy.
On the other hand, a person who wears Invisalign can take the tray out, eat what they like, brush and floss their teeth, then put the tray back in.
Invisalign may be the answer for orthodontic patients, especially younger ones, when it comes to aligning their teeth.