Clear, nearly invisible braces have made teeth straightening and realignment an orthodontic treatment option that is as aesthetically pleasing as it is effective.
The thought of having visible braces on show for two or more years may deter people from undergoing orthodontic treatment.
But nearly invisible braces deliver the same life-enhancing results as normal braces without such concerns.
What then are these clear, near-invisible braces and how do they work?
The first thing to say is that they are not actually “braces” in the usual sense (comprising of brackets and wires), they are instead a series of aligners!
It is possible to get traditional braces that are relatively unobtrusive.
A patient could be suitable for lingual braces which go on the inside of the teeth (though typically cost significantly more than labial/outside braces).
And white-coloured wire and white, ceramic brackets provide a subtle look on the front of teeth.
However, when people talk of “invisible braces” they are thinking of transparent aligners.
Of these aligners, Invisalign is the clear market leader and is the product used by leading orthodontic practices.
Other, similar products are available, but it is Invisalign we will be specifically referring to in this post.
How Invisalign Works
The aligners work by gradually moving teeth into the desired final position.
A patient would progress through a number of different aligners, each one completing the next step of the movement. By the time the final aligner had been worn for a couple of weeks, the teeth would be in the desired position and would stay so as long as the patient continues to use a retainer (which is advised for all orthodontic treatments).
If that makes the process sound simple it is because that is the reality, however, we can break it down into the exact steps
The process of getting the clear Invisalign aligners would begin with a consultation with an orthodontist. Other options would be discussed including more traditional braces, but let’s suppose Invisalign is the desired option, what then happens?
See Aligner Results At The Start
During the consultation, x-rays, photos and a digital scan, or a dental impression, would be taken of the mouth, creating a clear picture of how the teeth are now.
A wonderful aspect of this technology is that if a digital scan of the teeth is made, it is then possible to use software to show the path of the realignment, the patient could see how each aligner will move their teeth and the final outcome, all before it even starts.
Creating Custom Aligners
With the scan or impression of the teeth done, the custom aligners are made. Once ready (about 4 weeks after the impression) the aligners are fitted during a quick appointment to ensure that the fit is comfortable and that the patient knows exactly what to do after they leave.
The patient then simply wears them in order, changing as directed by their orthodontist, and the virtual changes they saw on a screen at the start of the process becomes their reality.
During the treatment, the patient would also have check-ups every six to eight weeks to ensure the expected progress is being made.
With more traditional braces, the end of the process might seem more like a big reveal, the obtrusive braces come off and the effect of the work over two or more years is finally visible to all.
Invisalign, clear aligners make changes that are apparent as the realignment is happening, not least because the current state of the teeth is clearly visible through the transparent, medical grade thermoplastic aligners.
Other benefits of Invisalign and clear aligners over braces
Braces still remain a superb option for many patients and clear aligners may not always be able to replace them as the ideal treatment option. However, when aligners are a suitable treatment option they have some clear benefits (pun intended).
Dental Hygiene and Invisalign
Ease of dental hygiene. The aligners should be worn for the majority of each day, the advice is to wear them for 22 hours per day. They should, though, be removed for eating and drinking and also when teeth are cleaned. This makes cleaning teeth easier than is the case with traditional braces, where care has to be taken to clean the braces and around them.
Self Confidence from Aligners
Improved self-confidence and self-esteem. Although the long-term benefits are the same as any orthodontic treatment – an improved dental profile that leads to far more confidence in smiling and showing your teeth to the world – during the realignment process the patient’s outlook can be very different if they are using Invisalign.
Since there is no concern at having very visible braces on show, the aligners can be easily forgotten about during treatment. They are not noticeable unless someone happens to stare right into your mouth!
Longer term, having teeth realigned into a better position makes it far easier to maintain good dental hygiene and so reduces the risk of Gingivitis, periodontitis and other common conditions.
Common questions about clear and invisible aligners as an alternative to braces
Patients naturally have many questions relating to the treatment they might undergo.
Are aligners painful to wear?
While there can be a little discomfort for the first couple of days wearing each new aligner, this soon passes. As already mentioned, each aligner is designed specifically with that patient in mind and so a perfect fit is ensured. Patients usually experience little to no discomfort after the first aligner.
Will clear aligners be suitable for my specific dental issues?
(An overbite, underbite, or if they have a bridge or have a temporomandibular (jaw joint) condition). The short answer is that an orthodontist will advise. Invisalign clear aligners have been used by millions of patients but each specific case requires an initial consultation with a trained professional before commencing.
Whatever the question, the orthodontist will advise, while many common queries are also covered on Invisalign’s website.
There is also the question of cost
Again, each patient’s needs will vary so a definite cost cannot be given prior to consultation, however, a full Invisalign treatment would usually cost in the range of £1,500 to £6,500.
The wide difference here is reflective of the fact that some patients will need only a quick course of treatment and a few aligners, for others the process will be more complicated with many more aligners along the road to that perfect smile.
Interested in Invisalign? Book a Consultation
If you are considering clear aligners, or keen to weigh up options including Invisalign as well as more traditional braces, the next step has to be to arrange an orthodontic consultation. Without that, it is impossible to know the nature of the treatment required, the options or the cost.
We would love to see you for a consultation with our orthodontists if you live in London.
We are an award-winning practice with a stunning reputation among our patients – please have a look at our independent Google reviews. We are also transparent with our prices, you can see the cost of that initial consultation via our price list.
We offer a payment plan for our orthodontic treatment whereby half the fee can be paid at the start of treatment, with the remainder paid over 10 months at 0% interest.
If you would like to discuss options further, please do get in touch with us at The Dental Surgery. We are based in the City of London and contactable on 020 7680 1800 or visit this page.