Invisalign is one of the most powerful and popular dental advancements today.
But there are a few things you must know before getting Invisalign.
Having gone through Invisalign myself, it’s a great option for adults who want the freedom of removing their aligner for pictures and special events.
However, this advantage can also become a problem if you aren’t diligent about wearing your aligners for at least 20 hours a day.
This article will help you understand the Invisalign process, what to expect, and if it’s right for you.
How invisalign works
Your orthodontist will send the impressions/ scans taken of your mouth to Invisalign, where they scan it and send back a ClinCheck. The ClinCheck is essentially a preview of the final results and how long the treatment will take.
Your dentist will modify the ClinCheck based on their preferences and the patient’s specific needs.
Some cases (where a tooth needs to be rotated or pulled down) may require tooth-colored composite attachments to be bonded to certain teeth.
Although this can make your treatment more noticeable and slightly irritating, attachments are an effective way to make the tooth movements more exact for better results.
Before moving forward, it’s important that your orthodontist goes over the ClinCheck with you and ensures you that your preferences are considered.
Why choose invisalign?
Deciding to go with Invisalign is mainly a lifestyle choice based on the advantages of aesthetics, hygiene, and comfort.
The benefits of invisalign
- Esthetics: You get clear, almost invisible aligners.
- Speed: Invisalign cases tend to be shorter than conventional braces because it can move more teeth at once.
- Comfort: Unlike conventional braces, there are no wires or sharp edges
- Results: Invisalign can move teeth in ways that braces cannot
- Reduced Risk: With Invisalign, there is less risk of shrinking tooth roots from the excessive forces than conventional braces may impose
- Time-Saving: there are much fewer dental visits than with conventional braces
- Better Oral Hygiene: Unlike conventional braces, which are hard to clean around, you remove your aligners to brush and floss.
- Custom trays and aligners for life: Your Invisalign aligners double as whitening trays and a nightguard during and after treatment.
The downside of invisalign
- Cost: Typically, Invisalign costs more than conventional braces because of the high lab fees.
- Longer wait time: it takes about 4-6 weeks to receive the aligners from Invisalign after taking impressions.
- Speech issues: Because there is a layer of plastic over your teeth, you may talk with a slight lisp for the first couple of days of wearing your aligners. If you’re worried about this, you can remove them for short periods of time when you need to speak clearly (i.e., an interview).
- Needing to remove the aligners when you eat: having to remove and store your aligners every time you eat can be inconvenient. And there’s the risk of losing your aligners if they get misplaced.
How much does invisalign cost?
The price of Invisalign falls somewhere between $2500 and $6500, depending on the complexity and length of your case.
It will also vary depending on where you live, the type of provider you choose, and how much your insurance covers.
The orthodontic coverage for your insurance will cover Invisalign. And although these plans will not cover the full treatment, they will definitely help a lot.
Some insurance plans have a $2,000 maximum lifetime for coverage, which is usually about a third of the cost of Invisalign.
This may sometimes be used as a down payment towards Invisalign and can get you a monthly payment plan with your provider.
Some people come interested in Invisalign Express, a cheaper treatment that only uses 10 aligners and is good for minimal movement. This option is typically not enough for most cases, which typically require 18 to 50 aligners.
How to choose a provider
Although both dentists and orthodontists can provide Invisalign. But it is always best to go with an orthodontist who has years of additional intensive training in orthodontics and focuses their practice solely on orthodontics.
But the most important thing is to choose a provider who has a lot of experience with Invisalign and has seen many cases with good results.
You can find a list of these providers at Invisalign’s website. You could also ask for references from actual patients when making your decision.
During the appointment
Your appointment to get Invisalign will start with impressions or digital scans of your teeth, which are sent to Invisalign. Invisalign will then make a 3D model of your teeth before and after the proposed treatment. Once you and your orthodontist have approved the model, the aligners are fabricated and sent to your dentist’s office. Your orthodontist will then bring you in to get you started treatment.
At this time, there are a few things you should know
- Your orthodontist will go over the ClinCheck with you.
Your orthodontist should show you this 3D simulation video of your projected tooth movement and final results, which give you a preview of what your teeth should look like after treatment is completed.
Your provider should take into consideration any preferences you may have before the aligners are made.
Also, ask your orthodontist if you will need any additional aligners for the “refinement” after you’ve completed your first set of aligners.
This should be included in a full Invisalign treatment case until the treatment is fully completed.
- How long will treatment be?
Most cases are between 10-24 months with switching out the aligners every two weeks.
The length of your treatment will be based on how complex your case is. The more complex your case is, the more aligners and time it will take.
The average case takes a little over a year. The ClinCheck will show you an estimate of how long your treatment will be based on how many aligners you will need.
- How much will a replacement cost?
Invisalign has a warranty program for any broken aligners. However, if you lose an aligner, the cost for replacement can be anywhere from $75 and $300.
So be sure to ask your doctor upfront how much a replacement would be, just in case.
And depending on how long you were wearing the aligner before you lost it, you might be able to move on to the next aligner instead of having to replace it.
- What to expect after you go home
How often to I wear my aligners?
For the best results, it‘s recommended to wear your aligners for at least 20 hours a day.
If your case doesn’t involve rotations, you might be able to get away with 18 hours.
If you want to speed up your treatment, you could wear your aligners for 22 hours a day instead of 20 and switch out your trays every week.
Your orthodontist will check to ensure that your teeth are moving as they should be and make adjustments as needed. So be sure not to miss your periodic visits with your orthodontist.
And most importantly, don’t cheat yourself by wearing your aligners for less than the recommended time.
What does invisalign feel like?
Fortunately, Invisalign is way less painful than braces. You may experience some pain and discomfort with Invisalign, but it’s more soreness than the pain of sharp brackets that come with traditional braces.
Invisalign also causes less gum inflammation and discomfort when brushing. And it doesn’t cause root resorption (part of the tooth root shrinks), which is sometimes seen with braces, which can cause tooth loss.
I recommend giving yourself time to get used to wearing the aligners and taking them in and out of the mouth.
How do I care for my aligners?
Although there are so many products out there for cleaning your aligners, the best solution is simple.
Whenever you take your aligners out, store them in a container with water and baking soda.
Check out How to Clean Your Retainers for the exact steps for how to keep your retainers clean.
You don’t want your aligners to dry out, which can cause plaque build-up. So keep them soaking in water.
You can scrub your aligners with your toothbrush. But don’t use toothpaste which will dull the shine of your aligners and make them appear less “clear.”
The same rule applies to your Invisalign retainer that you get after completing treatment.
How often do I have to change out aligners?
You’ll need to change out your Invisalign aligners every two weeks. Aligners can move your teeth .25 mm the first three days, but this is mainly tooth ligament movement. Bone movement is what keeps the tooth in its new position. This takes a full two weeks since the tooth must be held in the new position long enough for the bone cells to fill into place and hold the position before the next aligner comes in.
As your case progresses, the new position is more difficult to maintain, making the chance of relapse increase.
So it’s even more important to wear your aligners for the proper amount of time towards the end of your treatment.
After completing treatment, your orthodontist may recommend a “refinement” to make additional adjustments to your teeth and order more aligners to finish the case.
Afterward, you will need to wear your retainers only at night to keep your teeth straight. But for the first week or so after treatment, your orthodontist may have you wear your retainer for longer.
How long will I have to wear my retainer?
The answer is “for the rest of your life.”
As we age, your bites and your teeth shift, so it’s important to wear your retainer for the rest of your life.
Wouldn’t you want to preserve the beautifully aligned smile you worked so hard to achieve?
How often do I need to replace my retainer?
Invisalign retainers are quite durable and last for five to 10 years. Ask your orthodontist to show you how to properly remove it during your visit.
How much does it cost to replace a retainer?
Replacing a retainer can cost anywhere from $75 to $300, depending on your provider. On the upside, you won’t need to take new impressions because Invisalign has a record of your digital impressions and can send you a replacement easily.
Can I eat and drink with my aligners?
You’ll have to take your aligners out to eat, but most beverages are fine. It’s best to avoid dark-colored beverages like tea and coffee while wearing your aligners if you don’t want them to get stained.
But the good news is that you won’t be wearing each aligner for more than 2 weeks, so it’s not the end of the world if you stain them.
Can I whiten my teeth with invisalign?
Yes! The aligners double as custom whitening trays that will safely keep the whitening gel on your teeth.
Could I be allergic to the trays?
This is extremely rare, and Invisalign has a 100% refund policy if you have this issue.
What if I have missing teeth?
Invisalign is a great option even if you have missing teeth or have any teeth that need extractions.
Moreover, you may want to have your teeth aligned before restorations like implants are placed. This allows for the restoration to be more ideally placed.
At Thrive, your dentist and our orthodontist will be working together to create the best treatment plan and address any other dental work you may need to get done in the future or before starting Invisalign.
How often do I need to see my Invisalign Provider?
Once your receive your aligners, you will see your orthodontist every four to six weeks to ensure the treatment is going as planned. At this time, your orthodontist will answer any questions you might have. You will also receive your next set of aligners at this time.
Thinking of getting invisalign?
Come in today for a FREE Invisalign Consultation, and get started on transforming your smile today! I personally loved my experience with Invisalign and the results it gave me. It’s never too late to improve your smile. Call or book today and start living your best life!
by Dr. Nathan Coughlin
Download my FREE Ortho Guide, made just for you, to answer all your questions about braces and how to give yourself the best chance at a beautiful smile for life