Braces have long been the industry standard when it comes to teeth straightening. However, patients often complain about the pain, frequent adjustments, and visibility of braces.
When we consider these factors, it’s no surprise that clear Invisalign aligners have steadily grown in popularity since their conception in 1998.
Invisalign is the oldest, most popular aligner brand on the market. If you have crooked teeth or alignment concerns, you may be wondering, am I a candidate for Invisalign? In this guide, we’ll break down who can benefit from Invisalign and explore the pros and cons of the treatment.
How Does Invisalign Work?
Invisalign is a leading brand that specialises in thin, clear aligners that are used for orthodontic treatment. They are made from a flexible thermoplastic material.
As the name suggests, Invisalign aligners are designed to make tooth realignment as ‘invisible’ as possible.
While they are not completely invisible, the Invisalign trays fit snugly over your teeth and are completely clear, making them less prominent than the braces brackets and wires we’re familiar with.
So, how does Invisalign work?
The first step in your treatment plan involves visiting your dentist. They will create a 3D image of your mouth and jaw and use this image to help them put together a plan for moving your teeth in place.
This plan will inform the creation of your custom plastic aligners.
The aligners apply pressure to the teeth, gradually shifting them into the desired spots. You will switch out your aligners every week or two.
Invisalign aligners must be worn for 20 to 22 hours daily to work properly.
Am I a Candidate for Invisalign?
Invisalign is ideal for adult and teen patients who have mild-to-moderate misalignment. If you have severe misalignment, Invisalign may not be the right option for you.
Clear aligners work best on teeth that need to be moved horizontally. If your teeth need to be shifted vertically or rotated, Invisalign is unlikely to be useful.
There are a number of mild-to-moderate orthodontic issues that Invisalign can successfully treat, including
- Gaps in the teeth
- Overcrowded teeth
- Open bite
- Certain types of overbite, underbite, and crossbite issues (but not severe bite issues)
When deciding whether or not Invisalign will work for you, you and your dentist will need to take a few things into consideration.
For example, you’ll need to be prepared to experience a temporary lisp and some discomfort when the trays are first used. You will also have to start flossing and brushing your teeth after every meal.
If this doesn’t sound feasible, you may need to consider another treatment option.
Can Wisdom Teeth Affect Invisalign?
Most people who get braces get them as children before their wisdom teeth come through.
Invisalign patients, on the other hand, tend to be older and many have already had their wisdom teeth removed. In fact, around 85% of people need their wisdom teeth extracted in their lifetime. Wisdom teeth typically erupt between the ages of 17 and 21, which is a popular age for Invisalign use.
A painless, asymptomatic wisdom tooth is unlikely to affect your treatment. Your dentist will ensure X-rays are conducted prior to treatment to check on your wisdom teeth. They will let you know if they need to be removed prior to treatment.
In some cases, wisdom teeth that have erupted can cause crowding in the mouth, which may limit the effectiveness of the aligners. Your dentist will tell you if this is a concern and discuss options with you.
If your wisdom teeth erupt during treatment, you will still be able to wear your Invisalign retainers. Your dentist will likely trim the aligner to leave space for the erupted tooth or surgical site (if you had the tooth removed).
Can You Smoke with Invisalign?
You must not smoke while wearing your Invisalign retainers.
Smoking harms your dental health in a number of ways. It can
- Increase the risk of gum disease
- Stain and discolour the teeth
- Increase the risk of tooth loss
- Increase the risk of oral cancer
- Cause chronic bad breath
- Cause dry mouth
It’s very important to refrain from smoking during your Invisalign treatment. Tobacco products may
- Stain your Invisalign retainers
- Cause lingering bad breath
- Increase the risk of gum disease during treatment
- Reduce the amount of time you spend with your aligners in, which can lead to Invisalign failure
If you must smoke or you’re in the process of weaning off cigarettes, you should only smoke when you are not wearing your aligner trays. This will help to prevent damage to the aligners and your teeth.
You’ll also need to take extra care in brushing and flossing after smoking to reduce the risk of gum disease, staining, discolouration on the teeth and trays, and hygiene problems.
Limiting the number of cigarettes you have per day is also preferable. Remember, you’ll need to keep your aligners in for 20 to 22 hours daily for the treatment to be effective.
It should be noted that it will be up to your dentist to determine your eligibility for aligners. If you smoke, your dentist may refuse aligner treatment.
What Can Invisalign Not Fix?
As mentioned, there are a few issues that Invisalign cannot effectively resolve. These include
- Tooth Shape: Some people have very small, round or pointy teeth. Your tooth shape cannot be fixed by aligners. If you have any of these issues, your teeth may not fit in aligner trays properly. Regular braces tend to work better in these instances.
- Twisted Teeth: If your teeth are twisted or tilted, Invisalign won’t be able to correct them properly.
- Very Large Gaps: Invisalign technology cannot fill gaps larger than 6mm. Other solutions such as dental implants may be required to fill gaps that are too big for Invisalign.
- Intrusions and Extrusions: Invisalign is more effective for shifting front teeth than molars. Invisalign is also not the most effective treatment for situating your teeth at the same height.
- Midline Movement: Your midline is the line between your two front teeth. It can only be shifted by 2 mm either way with Invisalign.
- Prior Dental Work: If you’ve had previous dental work completed (like bridges or crowns) Invisalign may not be a viable option for you.
- Severe Bit Issues: Though a regular overbite may be treated with Invisalign, severe bite issues often require the use of braces.
Is Invisalign Better than Braces?
When it comes to comparing Invisalign and braces, it’s important to chat with your dentist about the benefits and drawbacks of both treatment options. Your dentist will be able to explain how these benefits and drawbacks may apply to your own personal situation.
Below, we’ll take a general look at the pros and cons of each treatment.
Pros of Invisalign
Invisalign is an effective and convenient option for many patients. Clear aligners are popular thanks to their subtle appearance, comfortability, and easy maintenance.
Invisalign trays fit closely to the teeth and are almost invisible from a distance. Their discreet style is one of the main drawcards, especially for adults looking for a subtle alignment option.
Aligners sit flush against the teeth and don’t cause the same cuts, ulcers, and pain that braces are renowned for. Your teeth may feel a bit uncomfortable when the aligners are readjusted every few weeks, but you won’t have to contend with pain in other areas of the mouth.
When undergoing Invisalign treatment, you must remove your aligners before you eat, floss and brush your teeth. You can then eat, floss and brush as normal. This means no challenging dental care routine or food restrictions. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for braces!
Cons of Invisalign
There are a few cons you’ll have to keep in mind when considering Invisalign.
Won’t Work for Complex Dental Concerns
As mentioned previously, Invisalign trays don’t work for every type of dental concern. They are best suited to people who require minor adjustments only.
Removal for Eating
You can drink water with your Invisalign trays in, but you can’t eat or drink anything other than water. This is because the plastic material can be easily damaged by food, stained, and warped by heat.
It’s a Commitment
You must wear your Invisalign trays for at least 20 to 22 hours per day. Taking them out too frequently and wearing them for less than 20 to 22 hours can slow your progress and interfere with the final results. Invisalign trays are very easy to take out, so it takes discipline to keep them in for the required amount of time.
If you struggle to maintain good dental hygiene, Invisalign may not be right for you. Invisalign increases the risk of bad breath and cavities, especially if the trays and your teeth aren’t cleaned after eating and drinking.
Pros of Braces
So, what are your options if Invisalign doesn’t work for you?
Typically, your dentist will recommend braces instead. Again, there is a range of pros and cons to consider.
Work for Complex Issues
Braces work for minor or complex dental issues. They adhere directly to the tooth, which means they are more powerful than clear aligners.
You can choose from a few different types of braces depending on your aesthetic preference. There are behind-the-teeth braces, also known as lingual braces, and ceramic braces that deliver a more discreet look. However, metal braces are the most affordable option.
Don’t Need to be Removed
You won’t be able to remove your braces, which is both a pro and a con.
The benefit is that your treatment is more straightforward; you won’t have to remember to take your braces out to eat and drink. You’ll also be able to drink all beverages, as braces are heat and stain-resistant.
Cons of Braces
Now, let’s take a look at the drawbacks of braces.
Metal braces are generally considered more painful and uncomfortable than Invisalign trays. They are often most bothersome during and right after adjustments. Your teeth may feel sore and tender. Braces can also cause irritation and cuts on the inside of your mouth.
Braces are easily seen. Even lingual and ceramic braces are more obvious than clear aligners. For many people, this is the main drawback.
When you’re wearing braces, you’ll need to avoid certain foods. You won’t be able to eat very hard or sticky foods such as gum, popcorn, hard lollies, and bagels, as they may damage the brackets and wires.
Can Discolour Teeth
The braces themselves won’t discolour your teeth, but because they are stuck to the teeth and therefore hard to clean, you may notice colour variations across the teeth once the braces are removed. This can be fixed with good brushing habits and a whitening treatment after they are taken off.
The cost of Invisalign is similar to that of traditional braces. The treatments typically cost around $3,000 to $5,000.
The cost will fluctuate depending on the length of treatment, how complex your dental issues are, and where you get your treatment done.
You can also check if your dental insurance plan covers Invisalign.
Am I Eligible for Invisalign?
Ready to discuss your Invisalign eligibility with a dentist?
You can request an appointment with us here, or contact us with any questions you may have about Invisalign.