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Invisalign FAQs

Everything you need to know about Invisalign

When choosing the right orthodontic treatment plan for your needs, we know there are many factors to consider. If Invisalign is an option for you, here are the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions about Invisalign.

Smiling with traditional metal braces versus smiling with invisalign braces

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign is a brand of orthodontic appliances that uses a series of clear, removable aligners to progressively straighten the teeth. It’s made of a patented thermoplastic material, also known as SmartTrack, that is thin and clean enough to be virtually invisible but also strong enough to reposition teeth. Unlike traditional braces, this system does not use any brackets, wires, or bulky, uncomfortable mechanisms.

Invisalign is a series of clear dental trays molded to your teeth that are changed out for new ones about every two weeks. Invisalign is a brand of clear aligners that has become a household name for clear aligners, much in the same way that Kleenex has become synonymous with tissues. The trays must be worn for 22 hours per day, and must be removed for eating. Invisalign treatment plans will also often include additional attachments to the trays that are designed to help specific teeth move where they need to be. These attachments are slightly more visible and look like clear braces when you are wearing your trays.

How does Invisalign work?

Our Chantilly Orthodontist will create a treatment plan that predicts how the aligners can move your teeth with each set of trays. Once this treatment plan is finalized digitally, the clear aligners are designed to apply the perfect amount of pressure to gradually reposition each tooth. After receiving the aligners, it’s imperative for patients to wear their aligners for 20-22 hours per day. Each set of aligners will take 1 – 2 weeks to adjust the positioning of the teeth and then, a new set will be implemented to continue the smile correction process. Patients can go through 20-30 trays or more to achieve their ideal smile. Throughout this time, our orthodontist will monitor your progress to ensure the aligners fit correctly and work effectively. Your treatment will be adjusted to your needs from start to finish!

What is Invisalign made out of?

Invisalign trays are made out of BPA-free plastic. BPA is sometimes found in dental sealants and composites, but exposure to BPA comes with possible health concerns. For this reason, Invisalign does not contain BPA.

How long does it take to straighten your teeth with Invisalign?

Just like traditional braces, treatment plans vary in length depending on your own teeth (and how diligent you are about keeping your trays in!). For Invisalign, typical treatment length is about 40 weeks for the initial treatment phase. After that, most patients wear maintenance trays (similar to wearing retainers after traditional braces), at least while they sleep, to prevent their teeth from moving back to their original places.

On average, treatment time ranges from 12 – 18 months, but the length of treatment really just depends on each individual’s situation. There are many factors that tie into your treatment time, such as the complexity and severity of the case and how often the patient wears the aligners. Our orthodontist will give you an estimate of how long treatment should take depending on your specific needs, but it may change during the process.

Is Invisalign as effective as braces?

Invisalign can be just as effective as braces if it is used correctly. Braces can be a better option for those who are more forgetful because the orthodontic appliance is semi-permanently secured on the teeth at all times. Since Invisalign patients have the ability to remove their trays, they also need to be more responsible with them. Invisalign patients must be diligent with their use of the clear aligner trays or the treatment won’t be as effective.

Though Invisalign can be customized to most cases, braces can be more effective for extremely severe or complex dental issues. Talk to your orthodontist to see if Invisalign is the right appliance for you.

Why should I get Invisalign?

Invisalign may be the right choice if you only have minor issues to fix, such as crowded teeth, gapped teeth, and minor overbite, underbite, or open bite. Invisalign can move your teeth horizontally, but not vertically, which is something to take into consideration depending on your specific smile situation. Your orthodontist, or Dr. Omar, will be able to tell you if Invisalign has the capability of helping you achieve your ideal smile.

Invisalign can also be the right choice for you if you are frequently involved in contact sports, as it offers more protection for your teeth in these situations than traditional braces do. If you are concerned about the visibility of braces, Invisalign may be a less conspicuous option.

Many people are afraid of getting Invisalign because they have yet to remove their wisdom teeth; however, wisdom teeth will not affect the alignment of your teeth in most cases. Like other braces, Invisalign can be used before or after wisdom teeth are removed. If your wisdom teeth do need to be removed, it’s most likely because they are impacted or decayed. According to Smiles Orthodontics, both your orthodontist and regular dentist should be able to identify if this is a problem before orthodontic treatment by looking at your dental x-rays.

There are variations of Invisalign treatments that are available based on the need of the client, including express options and a teen program option with additional resources and tools to keep users on track. Your orthodontist will be able to discuss these options with you if they are applicable.

Why might Invisalign be the wrong choice for me?

Invisalign cannot address as many issues as traditional braces can. For example, Invisalign trays can’t move teeth vertically, so if that is an issue that needs to be addressed in your teeth then Invisalign may not be right for you. Your orthodontist will know if your situation is too severe to be corrected with Invisalign, or if your specific needs cannot be met by Invisalign.

Another aspect to consider is the frequency of office visits you are able to commit to. Your Invisalign trays need to be changed trays every 2 weeks, instead of traditional braces which need adjustments every 4-6 weeks. Sometimes orthodontists are able to give patients multiple trays at a time, but if they are not able to then Invisalign may require more frequent visits. This is something you will want to ask your orthodontist about because factors like insurance and your specific orthodontic needs come into play here.

The biggest issue users experience with Invisalign is also the greatest advantage. Invisalign trays are removable, but they need to be worn for 22 hours a day everyday. If the patient is not able to stick to this commitment due to scheduling or forgetfulness, then traditional braces may be a better option.

What is Invisalign Express?

Invisalign Express is a faster version of the standard 40-week treatment plan. Invisalign Express makes use of ten or fewer straighteners compared to the 22 or so used in traditional Invisalign. Express treatment can last six months compared to 1-2 years, and is used to correct minor alignment issues and requires strict adherence to the 22 hours per day rule to obtain the faster results. Invisalign Express can be more uncomfortable as the teeth are moved fast, and it cannot address as many issues as standard Invisalign can. Talk to your orthodontist if Invisalign Express is an option you would like to consider.

There is also other options for those who are teens that want Invisalign.

How much does Invisalign cost?

Invisalign usually costs around the same amount as braces. The price of each case will depend on its complexity, time, and number of aligners. At Omar Orthodontics, we also offer several ways to make Invisalign more affordable and flexible, such as monthly payment plans. Our financing options include:

  • No-interest in-house financing
  • CareCredit
  • LendingTree
  • Cash
  • Check
  • All credit cards

Give us a call if you’d like to schedule a consultation for a quote!

Can Invisalign be covered by insurance?

Yes, as stated above, Invisalign may be covered by your insurance provider. We recommend checking ahead of time to see if it’s part of your plan. Our office accepts most insurance, including:

  • MetLife
  • Delta Dental
  • Dominion Dental
  • Cigna
  • Aetna
  • United Healthcare
  • Guardian
  • Anthem BlueCross BlueShield
  • United Concordia
  • Humana
  • Medicaid

What are the benefits of Invisalign?

There are many benefits to Invisalign! The treatment system works just as well as regular braces, but the user has a lot more control and flexibility. Below are the major benefits that our patients enjoy.

Appearance: Invisalign clear aligners are made of a clear, thin material that rests closely against the teeth, so they are virtually invisible. Many of our teenage and adult patients appreciate this aspect of Invisalign because it allows them to participate in activities and events without being self conscious about having clunky metal appliances in their mouth. Patients can speak and smile with confidence, which can be especially important during special occasions like interviews or presentations.

Comfort: Traditional braces with metal brackets and wires can be bulky and uncomfortable, especially for patients with sensitive mouths. They can even scratch and bruise the inside of the mouth. Because Invisalign is made of such a thin material and its molded precisely to the mouth, many patients find it to be more comfortable. Of course, it still applies pressure on the teeth, so it will inevitably make the mouth a little sore from the tooth and bone movement.

Convenience: Since Invisalign is a removable appliance, it’s a lot more convenient for patients. Food and drinks can easily get stuck in braces, but Invisalign users can simply take off their braces when they need to eat.

Cleanliness: It’s much easier to care for teeth with Invisalign than with braces. Patients can thoroughly brush and floss their teeth if they have the ability to remove their Invisalign trays. There’s no need to maneuver around tricky brackets and wires. There’s also less risk of calcification and stains on the teeth after the treatment is complete.  

Safety: Patients who are involved in contact sports may want to consider Invisalign because it’s a much safer option than regular braces. Invisalign trays fit snugly against the teeth, so mouthguards can easily be placed over them. They can also be removed if needed for practice and games/matches. Traditional braces can severely scratch and bruise patients if there is trauma to the head or mouth. It’s also much more difficult to use mouthguards with a mouth full of braces.

What are some of the potential risks and downsides of Invisalign?

Invisalign can take longer than traditional braces depending on your adherence to the 22 hours per day rule and your own orthodontic needs. Treatment length for traditional braces is also sometimes difficult to predict, but your orthodontist will be able to give you an estimated completion date.

Invisalign trays can also stain very easily. You’ll need to remove them to eat or drink anything besides cold or room temperature water. This can present an inconvenience, as they are very tightly fitted and require some effort to remove. Many users report that they tend to snack less than usual during their treatment, so you’ll want to be extra diligent about getting enough food, protein, and vitamins in your primary meals.

Invisalign users also report that their lipstick often ends up all over their clear trays! If you’re a lipstick lover, you’ll want to test your favorites around the house with your trays in to see if this happens to you. A lip balm or lightly tinted gloss may be a better option during your Invisalign treatment.

Am I a good candidate for Invisalign?

Invisalign is a viable orthodontic treatment for both adults and teens who have all their permanent teeth. With recent technological advances, Invisalign can treat almost all orthodontic problems, such as malocclusions, crooked teeth, and gaps. Even patients with complex cases can be candidates for Invisalign.

Like all other orthodontic appliances, there is only one prerequisite for Invisalign: healthy gums and strong bone structure. Because Invisalign exerts so much force on the teeth, patients need a stable structure to keep teeth in place throughout the treatment. The orthodontist may recommend seeing a periodontist before getting Invisalign if the patient has a history of gum disease.

Will Invisalign still work for me if I have veneers, crowns, or bridgework? What if I’ve already had cosmetic/orthodontic work?

It depends on the extent of these issues. You’ll want to talk with your orthodontist about the dental work you have gone through so that they can evaluate your individual needs. In general, because Invisalign is designed to move each tooth individually, bridgework (which connects two or more teeth) may hinder Invisalign’s ability to move your teeth.

There are many patients who seek Invisalign after their first round of orthodontic work if they are unsatisfied with the first process or their teeth have shifted. It’s also possible for patients to switch to Invisalign from traditional braces under the right circumstances. For patients with cosmetic work like veneers or crowns, Invisalign can still be an option because the clear aligners move each tooth one at a time, regardless of whether they are natural or artificial. However, only the orthodontist can determine whether you are a candidate for Invisalign, so come in for a consultation if you are interested!

Will I still need to use a retainer after Invisalign treatment?

Yes, you will need retainers after getting Invisalign. Retainers will stabilize the teeth and jaws, so they stay in the correct position for the rest of your life. At first, retainers are worn at all times like Invisalign to ensure the teeth do not shift back. Then, they will only need to worn at night.  

Most orthodontists recommend that their patients wear retainers after any orthodontic treatment in order to prevent teeth from shifting once they are set in place. This often just means wearing retainers at night while you sleep, but consult with your orthodontist about what post-treatment practices will be best for your specific situation.

If you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask your orthodontist! Does it sound like Invisalign may be the right treatment plan for you? Schedule a consultation with us today!

How should I properly clean and maintain my Invisalign system?

You’ll need to brush your teeth thoroughly after every meal, because putting your trays back in while there is still food in your teeth can both stain your Invisalign trays and damage your teeth. This will mean bringing a toothbrush, toothpaste, and tray case everywhere you go where eating is a possibility. You’ll also want to rinse your trays every time you remove them, and soak them in retainer or denture cleanser on a regular basis.