How Does Invisalign Work? [Step-by-Step Guide]
By now, you’ve likely heard of Invisalign®.
It’s presumably the most popular type of clear aligner system in the world, with more than 9 million smiles treated.
Instead of traditional braces with metal brackets and wires, this orthodontic treatment uses clear trays to straighten your teeth.
So, how does it work? And what can you expect?
Let’s answer those!
How does Invisalign work?
The short answer:
Invisalign uses 3D technology to create a digital impression (or mold) of your smile.
Then using that impression, the technology determines how to move your teeth and predicts the final outcome. From there, all of the aligners needed are created based on that scan.
Each time you switch to a new set of aligners, your teeth will gradually continue to move into alignment until complete.
Now, for a more detailed description of how Invisalign works and what you can expect, let’s begin.
Step 1. Meet with an Invisalign dentist
First, you need to find out if you’re a candidate for Invisalign.
Back in the day, Invisalign generally wasn’t suitable for moderate or complex cases. But all that’s changed with advanced technology.
If you were told years ago that you weren’t a candidate, it’s worth asking again!
What cases can Invisalign treat?
Invisalign’s treatable cases… This text opens a new tab to the Invisalign website… include:
- Gap teeth
- Open bites
- Crowded teeth
- Baby and permanent teeth
- Generally straighter teeth
To determine if Invisalign is right for you, schedule a consultation with an Invisalign dentist.
What happens at an Invisalign consultation?
To decide if you’re a good candidate for Invisalign, your dentist will likely:
- Ask you about your goals or concerns
- Review x-rays and records
- Examine your oral health
If all is well, then the next step is to make an impression.
Like ours, many Invisalign providers use the iTero Element® scanner for digital impressions (no goopy or gaggy mess).
The iTero scanner uses a small hand-held wand to take thousands of digital images of your teeth and gums within a couple of minutes (no radiation).
This is then computed onto a screen as a 3D digital impression.
The technology maps out an Invisalign treatment plan, which your dentist customizes as needed.
All of this typically happens right next to your chair, so you’ll see the same things as your dentist.
Your treatment plan will include:
- How many sets of aligners you’ll need
- How long treatment will take
- How much Invisalign treatment will cost
The best part of the consultation:
You’ll get a sneak peek at your new smile!
On the screen, a simulation will show you the anticipated movements of your teeth as you change aligners and what your smile will look like at the end of your treatment.
You’ll leave the consultation knowing:
- If you’re an Invisalign candidate
- When you can expect to be done during treatment
- How often you’ll need to switch aligners
- How often you’ll need to visit the dentist for check-ups
- The cost of Invisalign (and if the dentist offers payment options)
- What your expected smile will look like
Step 2. Start treatment
After you decide to move forward with Invisalign treatment, your dentist will send off your treatment plan to have your custom clear aligners made.
When they’re ready, typically within a couple of weeks, you’ll return to the office for your first official appointment.
Depending on your treatment plan, you may need attachments… This text opens a new tab to the page on attachements… placed on your teeth.
Attachments are small tooth-colored composite “bumps” applied to certain teeth in specific spots to help the aligners grip onto the tooth and move it more effectively.
Start wearing your aligners
Next, you’ll try on your first set of aligners.
Your dentist will ensure it fits seamlessly and is not causing visible pain.
The first few days after wearing a new set of aligners (especially your very first set) may cause slight discomfort or sensitivity. This is normal, and the discomfort will subside shortly as your teeth adjust.
You’ll likely leave your first appointment with 2-3 sets of aligners and instructions on when to switch to the next set.
Comply with instructions
Invisalign aligners must be worn for 20-22 hours a day.
Failure to comply with this may result in longer or ineffective treatment.
You should only take your aligners out to:
- Drink (Exception: you can drink water with the aligners in)
Get regular doctor check-ins
Your dentist will tell you how often you’ll need to come back for check-ups.
Typically it’ll vary between 4-8 weeks (far less than braces).
These appointments allow your dentist to verify your treatment is going according to plan, and if necessary, make adjustments (more/less aligners, change plan, remove/add attachments, etc.).
You’ll also be given more sets of aligners to continue straightening your teeth.
Step 3. Complete treatment
Once you and your dentist are satisfied with the outcome, you’ll end treatment.
The average treatment length with Invisalign is 12 to 18 months.
To keep your brand-new smile as is, you’ll need to wear a retainer at night.
Invisalign’s Vivera retainer is custom-made and 30% stronger than other retainers, making it last longer and effectively keep your teeth in alignment.
For the final touch:
These two services will truly make your new smile stand out and shine.
Ready to start YOUR Invisalign journey?
The first step is to Google “Invisalign dentist near me.”
We recommend reviewing a few options to compare offerings, such as:
- What other dental services do they offer?
- What experience does the dentist have?
- Do they offer payment options or accept insurance?
Then request a consultation and start your journey.
Are you located near Wichita, Maize, or Valley Center, KS?
Book an Invisalign consultation at Dr. Eric S. Farmer DDS today!
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