Crooked teeth can cause a host of problems, including diminished self-esteem. Metal braces have long been the standard treatment to correct crooked teeth, but the thought of a mouth full of wires makes many patients think twice. Using state-of-the-art technology, now patients have a clear alternative to standard braces with Invisalign clear braces. Taking a look at the advantages of Invisalign may help to determine if the system is right for you.
At Allred Dental, we want all of our patients to love their smiles. When faced with crooked teeth, it can be difficult to determine the best course to correct the issue. If you live in the Encinitas, Oceanside, or San Marcos area and would like to discuss Invisalign as an option, call us today! Our staff will schedule a consultation and help you find a treatment plan that fits with your lifestyle.
Metal Braces Basics
Metal braces have been a mainstay for orthodontists for decades, and for good reason. They are an effective method of realigning teeth, especially for younger patients with jaws that are still developing. Metal brackets are cemented to each tooth and connected with wires. By applying pressure, teeth are pushed, pulled, and nudged into the proper position over time. After around 18 months, the patient is rewarded with a stunningly straight smile.
Unfortunately, the metals used in braces can cause problems in some people. They can scratch the insides of your mouth, and wires may poke and prod cheeks and gums. Some patients even require dental wax to smooth out rough edges. They are also a highly visible treatment; even clear ceramic brackets are still noticeable. For a truly invisible and much more comfortable experience, patients will need to find another option.
Introduction to Invisalign
For many of our clients, the Invisalign treatment system is just what they’re looking for. Instead of shifting teeth using brackets and wires, Invisalign trays are shaped specially to help guide the teeth into place. Each tray is based on a mold of your mouth, designed to apply constant pressure throughout the day. Invisalign trays are made of clear plastic, making them difficult to see while inserted while maintaining durability.
These trays should be worn for at least 18 to 20 hours each day, and are usually removed for eating and basic oral care. Alignment trays are lightweight and easy to clean, making them an excellent alternative to traditional braces. It’s not just the difference in how they move teeth that makes the Invisalign system stand out, though. There are other benefits to choosing alignment trays as the preferred method of straightening dentition.
First and foremost, patients gravitate towards Invisalign because the system is very difficult to detect. When trays are inserted, they blend in naturally with your teeth. Many people don’t even realize when someone has them inserted until it’s time to share a meal! Because it is such a discreet treatment, patients who are concerned about their professional appearance now have an option that fits perfectly with their lifestyle.
Metal braces can make some clients feel even worse about their smiles since their crooked teeth are now covered by metal and wire. Invisalign™ users don’t have that problem, and can confidently wear their trays throughout the day. While patients may have some difficulty speaking at first, this lessens as their mouth becomes used to the treatment.
Braces are a long-term solution to crooked dentition. Once installed onto teeth, brackets can only be removed by your orthodontist with special solvents and scraping. Wires are changed during office visits, and any uncomfortable poking or prodding needs an additional appointment to fix.
Invisalign trays don’t have such an issue because patients can remove them when needed. Most people only take out their trays to eat or brush, since the less time they spend in your mouth the longer you’ll need to use them. Even so, many patients appreciate the daily breaks from the constant pressures that realigning teeth demands.
No Dietary Restrictions
When a patient first has their braces installed, they are given a long list of foods to avoid. A lot of clients feel they miss out on some of their favorite foods, such as:
- Hard foods (almonds, hard candies)
- Chewy items (gum, licorice)
- Sticky candies(caramel, gum)
- Crunchy snacks (popcorn, ice)
- “Biting” fruits and vegetables(corn-on-the-cob, apples)
Those with braces should avoid these foods because they can cause serious damage to brackets and wires. Hard foods can allow wires to slip free or break, while stickier substances may become lodged between teeth and under the wire.
Since Invisalign trays are meant to be removed while eating, this treatment doesn’t suffer from such drawbacks. Patients can freely eat their favorite foods because their trays stay secured away at mealtime. In fact, it may be dangerous to eat while trays are still inserted because it can cause damage to teeth and the aligner as well as allow food to become trapped between tooth and tray, a perfect recipe for decay!
Cleaning around braces is a pain. In order to ensure plaque, food particles, and bacteria are removed, patients need to take care of not only their teeth and gums but brackets and wires as well. There are special tools that are made to floss around metal braces, but they can be a hassle to use. Things get even worse if the patient has gone against their dentist’s recommendations and has eaten inappropriate foods. Popcorn kernels and other small particles can get stuck in between braces and teeth causing irritation, inflammation, and even tooth decay.
On the contrary, brushing and flossing with Invisalign™ trays is no different than before! While the aligners should be rinsed at mealtime, taking care of your teeth won’t change. However, it is important that you brush after every meal to prevent decay-causing particles from becoming trapped between the trays and your teeth. Some patients may see this as an inconvenience, but the extra attention your dentition receives will help keep those pearly whites shining.
One of the major reasons people choose an Invisalign™ treatment plan is for comfort. Metal braces are made of titanium alloys for brackets and wires. This can lead to painful scratches and cuts inside the mouth. The pressures caused by shifting teeth in the jawbone itself may become painful when wires are tightened as well, leading to headaches and difficulty chewing until the pressure lessens.
Adjustment trays apply pressure to teeth, too, but not to the same intensity as braces. In addition, aligners are made from a proprietary resin called SmartTrack™ that is designed exp[ressly for the purpose of moving teeth. The polyurethane plastic is comfortable, durable, and safe. They also have a perfect fit since each tray was designed specifically for your mouth!
Even though the Invisalign™ system is highly effective, virtually invisible, and easier to maintain, there are still some factors that may make it an unsuitable treatment plan. Traditional braces are exceptionally effective at treating more intense cases of misaligned dentition. Adjustment trays aren’t able to handle drastic reconstruction, making them a poor choice for patients who need major changes. Other reasons a patient might choose other options include:
- Time-Intensive: Invisalign trays need to be worn at least 20 hours a day, and longer if possible. While it’s ok to take a break now and then, those who find it difficult to stick to a schedule may find it difficult to maintain the treatment. This is a major reason why fixed braces are a better choice for younger patients.
- Potential Loss: Because trays are removable, it’s very easy to lose them. It is a common habit to wrap the aligners in a napkin while eating, but that makes accidentally throwing them away much more likely. Even if a patient were to lose their trays, it may still be possible to use a previous set as a temporary replacement until proper ones can be obtained.
- May Require Brackets: Unfortunately, some treatment plans using Invisalign™ require the patient to attach ceramic brackets to hold the trays in place. These are similar to the enamel-tinted kind used in traditional braces, and may make the treatment more visible, and can resemble them when inserted.
- No Snacking: Alignment trays need to be worn most of the day and patients should brush their teeth after eating, so frequent snack breaks will only prolong the treatment plan. While some people find this inhibition a dietary dream, others may need to eat at regular intervals, making traditional braces much more sensible.
While there may be some drawbacks, most clients have a wonderful experience using alignment trays. Discuss the decision with your dentist or orthodontist to help determine which option would be most effective.
The Invisalign adjustment system is an attractive way for patients to straighten their teeth. If you still have questions and would like to discuss Invisalign and other dentition correction options, call us to schedule a consultation. Our helpful staff at Allred Dental is waiting to put a smile back on your face!