Invisalign aligners may look like just a little piece of plastic but they pack a powerful hi-tech punch when it comes to fixing crooked teeth and other orthodontic problems.
From cutting-edge digital scanning to high-end 3D printing, the entire Invisalign process is designed for maximum comfort and fast results.
One of the multiple benefits of Invisalign is that each movement of your teeth is planned from start to finish, with just the right level of pressure to minimize discomfort.
Each aligner is custom made with precision trimming and smooth edges, which avoids gum irritation.
Invisalign appliances also come with a unique SmartTrack system that takes teeth straightening to a new level, with treatment times reduced to as little as a few months.
Other key advantages of Invisalign over traditional fixed braces include:
- You can take your aligner out for meals and snacks and to clean your teeth.
- As the name suggests, Invisalign aligners are practically invisible.
Advantages of Digital Impressions for Invisalign
The benefits of Invisalign begin even before you start wearing your aligners. The Invisalign digital scanning process avoids the need for messy tray-and-putty impressions – particularly unpleasant if you have a strong gag reflex.
The standard digital scanning method for Invisalign is the iTero system, in which a handheld wand produces a 3D image of your teeth, which you can see on-screen in real-time and is sent electronically to a lab.
The iTero scanner can create up to 6,000 frames a second and the images can be rotated and zoomed in to give your orthodontist an in-depth view of your teeth.
The iTero system uses Cone Beam Computerized Tomography (CBCT) to create a 3D 360-degree view of your mouth.
What is Invisalign SmartTrack?
SmartTrack is the Invisalign proprietary material resulting from eight years of research by dental biomechanics experts.
It improves the elasticity of the aligners and reduces dental pressure as they move your teeth into the correct bite position, straightening your teeth more effectively while lessening discomfort.
SmartTrack ensures your aligners retain their shape and fit snugly around your teeth throughout treatment, maintaining gentle pressure to move your teeth more effectively – up to 50 percent faster than regular braces.
The SmartTrack material also makes it easier and more comfortable to put your aligners in and take them out.
3D Printing for Invisalign
The digital files created by the Invisalign scanning process are used to produce 3D-printed shape-engineered molds, from which aligners are fabricated in a highly automated and technologically advanced manufacturing process.
3D printing has been around since the early 1980s but is now much more mainstream in medical fields, including orthodontics.
Align Technology – the U.S.-based multinational medical device company behind Invisalign – is a leading pioneer of 3D printing in dentistry and it continually fine-tunes how Invisalign aligners are made.
The high level of customization for each patient’s aligners means Invisalign can be used to treat both simple and complex orthodontic issues.
What Problems Can Invisalign Fix?
One of the benefits of Invisalign treatment is its capability to resolve many different orthodontic problems, and advances in technology are enabling this ground-breaking teeth-straightening solution to treat ever more complex cases.
Depending on complexity or severity, Invisalign can usually help patients with:
- Crooked teeth. Invisalign straightens teeth in a series of precisely regulated movements, and only some teeth are gradually moved during each stage of the process, which means much better control than regular braces.
- Crowded teeth. Overcrowding of teeth can result in teeth that become twisted and overlap. Invisalign can be effective in some instances of crowded teeth, depending on how complicated the case is.
- Gapped teeth. Unless the problem is serious, Invisalign can close gaps between teeth to improve oral health.
- Protruding teeth (overbite). If your upper front teeth overhang your lower teeth, Invisalign can typically shift your teeth so your bite aligns properly.
Invisalign can also treat other bite abnormalities, including:
- Crossbite – if your upper teeth close on the inside of your lower teeth.
- Open bite – when upper and lower teeth don’t meet correctly.
- In most cases, Invisalign can help to move your lower teeth backward so they lie behind your front teeth.
Comfort and Convenience of Invisalign Aligners
The Invisalign system provides a popular alternative to traditional braces because the clear, medical-grade plastic of the aligners means you can get your teeth straightened without drawing attention to your orthodontic treatment.
While the conspicuous brackets and wires of standard braces can make patients feel self-conscious, it’s unlikely anyone will even notice your aligners – and you can take them out for special occasions.
This removability also provides a key health advantage over fixed braces, which makes oral hygiene tricky. With Invisalign, you simply remove your aligner to brush and floss your teeth as normal.
You can also take your aligner out to continue to eat whatever you want, avoiding all the dietary restrictions that come with fixed braces.
Another benefit of Invisalign is the greater level of comfort compared with regular braces. In one study, more than one-third of Invisalign patients reported no pain at all. Those who experienced some discomfort said it went away within a few days of putting in a new aligner.
Is Invisalign Right for Me?
The numerous benefits of Invisalign allow you to get on with your life without having to worry about excessive discomfort, your appearance, what you can eat, and keeping your teeth and gums clean.
Invisalign treatment also means fewer orthodontic appointments. Unlike conventional braces, Invisalign appliances don’t require ongoing adjustments – you just pop in a new aligner every week or so.
And once your Invisalign treatment is completed, you’ll be able to show off your brand-new healthy smile with confidence.
If you’re weighing up the benefits of Invisalign compared with regular braces, the best person to help you decide on the right treatment in your case is an orthodontic specialist experienced in both teeth-straightening systems.
Most people are good candidates for Invisalign treatment, and although it’s generally a little more expensive than getting conventional braces, it’s usually covered by dental insurance.