Your Invisalign consultation allows us to plan for your upcoming treatment and prepare you for the entire process.
Invisalign is steadily growing to become one of the most popular orthodontic procedures, often being the preferred choice for our patients over traditional braces. Their almost invisible look, comfortability, convenience, and shorter treatment time make them near unbeatable in the world of teeth straightening. Even clear braces, which use ceramic brackets and clear elastics to mask your dental work, can’t compare to clear aligners’ unique benefits.
There are many reasons why our patients tell us they’d much rather use Invisalign. However, before we start correcting your smile, we must first create a treatment plan. This begins with your initial Invisalign consultation. When you come into Smiling Dental, our dentists* will start by addressing your main concerns:
- Why are you here, specifically?
- What don’t you like about your smile?
- What are your expectations for your future smile?
When a patient tells our dentists that they want to start Invisalign, it’s always for a reason. Clear aligners aren’t like a dental cleaning or cavity treatment, where they are a necessary, nonelective procedure. Instead, our orthodontic patients choose Invisalign because they are tired of their crooked, crowded smile and want the straight teeth they deserve. They know what can be improved about their smiles, and they’ve decided to do something about it finally.
By considering your smile goals, we can often tell from the beginning whether or not you may be a good fit for Invisalign. While clear aligners are very versatile and have only become more effective over the past two decades, they aren’t as powerful as traditional braces yet. Patients who need more extensive treatment might need to be referred to an orthodontist for bracket braces or other appliances. Alternatives like partial braces and expanders are common preliminary treatments for our younger patients who don’t have all of their adult teeth yet.
On the other end of the spectrum, some patients may not need something as comprehensive as clear aligners to correct their smiles. If you only want to fix one or two crooked teeth, we may recommend a different cosmetic dentistry procedure like porcelain veneers or tooth bonding. These treatments pinpoint specific teeth that are mildly crooked, crowded, or set too low in the jaw.
Once we’ve decided that you’re a great candidate, we’ll take photos of the interior and exterior of your mouth. Our dentists need an idea of what we’re working with when planning your treatment. We’ll then use our virtual iTero scanner to scan your entire mouth, giving us a digital impression of your smile. With these exams, we can provide you an outcome simulation of what your smile could potentially look like once you’ve completed treatment. We know how important it is to see your Invisalign before and after to understand how we can help you achieve your dream smile.
Finally, before you leave your appointment, you’ll sit down with our dental professionals to discuss the ins and outs of your Invisalign procedure. Here, we’ll be able to answer your pressing questions, such as “How much does it cost for Invisalign?” and “What are the pros and cons of Invisalign?” We want to make sure you never feel shocked or surprised by your treatment. We will go over:
- All financial aspects of Invisalign—base procedure cost, dental insurance coverage, financing options, etc.
- Everything you can expect throughout your treatment—how long your orthodontic work is expected to take, how to take care of aligner trays, the post-aligners teeth retainer period, and more
- Advantages and disadvantages of Invisalign vs braces
- If preparatory orthodontic treatment is needed (for children who need early orthodontics work done)
What Does An Invisalign Do?
During your consultation, it’s essential that we understand your smile goals and your misalignment’s severity. For now, there are some cases that clear aligners aren’t equipped to handle due to how Invisalign works. It often comes as a surprise when we tell patients that Invisalign isn’t just “invisible braces” but a whole new method of fixing their smiles. Traditional and clear braces use brackets and wires that apply force to your entire tooth, which often makes them more painful to wear.
Clear aligners, however, use clear plastic trays we have specially made for your mouth. With our photos, scans, and impressions, your first tray will slip right on and fit perfectly to your smile, with little discomfort. You will trade out your current tray for the next tray in the series every week or two. This way, you can continuously work on your teeth’s alignment progress instead of relying on a tightening appointment every four to six weeks.
Each tray focuses on a specific area of the mouth, rather than putting pressure on every tooth at once. Over time, your whole smile will be adjusted to exactly how you want it. Along with the lack of bulky and abrasive brackets, this focus makes clear aligners much more comfortable than braces.
During your consultation, we will check that your smile goals align with Invisalign’s capabilities. Clear aligners can tackle slight to moderate:
- Gaps between teeth
- Open bite
However, since clear aligners don’t apply pressure to the entire tooth like brackets and wire do, there are some cases that they can’t fully fix:
- Severe teeth and bite alignment problems
- Severely rotated teeth
- Irregularly shaped teeth your Invisalign can’t grip properly
- Intrusion and extrusion (moving teeth vertically in or out of their jawbone structure)
- Previous dental work that may be difficult to move where we want (bridges, crowns, etc.)
During your consultation, we’ll be able to tell you whether you are a viable candidate for Invisalign or if you will need orthodontic braces instead.
What Happens If You Don’t Wear Invisalign For A Whole 24 Hours?
One of the most common questions we get asked during the consultation is what happens if a patient doesn’t put their trays every minute of the day. It won’t be the end of the world—or your smile—if you don’t wear your Invisalign 24/7. To be fully effective, you only need to wear your aligner trays for 20 to 22 hours each day. Unlike traditional braces, Invisalign is meant to be removed periodically throughout the day for meals and cleaning.
However, it may complicate things if you forget to wear your aligners for multiple days in a row. A couple of days may only delay your treatment for a bit as you must wear your current trays longer to make up for lost time. However, any longer can lead to your aligner no longer fitting. You will need to return to a previous aligner that does and earn back your old progress.
How Long Do You Wear Clear Aligners?
One of the things your orthodontist figures out during your consultation is your Invisalign’s duration. How long your treatment lasts depends on how extensive your alignment problem is. Clear aligners usually shave months and years off of the standard braces process. It would take between 18 months and 3 years for you to get the straight teeth you want with brackets. Our Invisalign patients only need to wear their aligner trays for 8 to 18 months. Patients requiring only minimal work done may need as little as 6 months of treatment.
Our younger patients, between 11 and 14 years old, often require less time than our older patients. As we grow older, our teeth fully develop and become more deeply rooted in the bone. More force and pressure is necessary to get the same results. However, we want you to be as comfortable as possible throughout your time with us. By slowing down your orthodontic work a bit, we can still gently move everything where we want them without causing pain or damage to your teeth and jaw structure.
Our dentists may have to postpone your treatment if you have cavities and gum disease. These dental health emergencies can’t be ignored as they can ruin your smile if left to their own devices. However, waiting to address them until you are mid-Invisalign treatment may briefly put your orthodontic progress on hold. Invisalign trays depend on your teeth being where and how we expect them—shape and all. Dental fillings, crowns, extractions, bone grafts, and tooth replacements permanently affect your teeth and jaw’s shape. In many cases, patients who need restorative work must later have their clear aligners redesigned to fit their new smiles.