If you did some research on orthodontic services, it’s likely that you encountered the term Invisalign®. What exactly does this word mean? Is it a medical term or some brand name?
If you visit an orthodontist in Woodbridge VA or some other city, for example, you can ask this question and get an unambiguous answer. However, if you prefer knowing things in advance, read on for a clear and concise explanation.
Invisalign® is written with the “®” or “Circle R” symbol, which means that the term is a registered trademark. It is a brand of a custom-made dental aligner product that can be changed biweekly for a period ranging from six to eighteen months. The term Invisalign is a portmanteau created out of the words “invisible” and “align”. It is named as such because it is usually made of clear plastic; hence, it is not that conspicuous when worn.
Invisalign® provides an excellent alternative over the usual metal brackets. Using it entails the wearing of a series of customised clear plastic aligners to guide the shifting of the teeth into the desired position. The orthodontist first obtains X-rays, photos, bite outlines, and teeth and gum impressions on polyvinyl siloxane to come up with a 3D representation of the teeth. This representation serves as the basis for the custom-made clear aligners. Once the aligners are made, the orthodontist moves the teeth to the intended position by about 0.25 to 0.33 millimetres in each instance. Typically, the full treatment requires six to 48 aligners.
Created by California-based medical device maker Align Technology, Invisalign® was conceptualised by Zia Chishti while he was himself an adult orthodontic patient. He came up with the product idea as he noticed that the use of a series of retainer-like devices to effect small movements could produce a significant overall change in the position of the teeth.
Is it good?
Initially, orthodontists hesitated to use Invisalign®. One of the main reasons for this hesitation was the fact that the creators of the product were not orthodontic experts or had no relevant credentials. However, the product rose to popularity. The US Food and Drug Administration eventually approved it in 1998. According to Align Technology, more than 5 million people have already been treated with the Invisalign® system around the world. Achieving this number of users is not possible if the product does not work.
Invisalign® has the advantage over traditional braces because the aligners can be taken out when eating, drinking, brushing, and flossing. The clear plastic aligners are gentle on the gums and cheeks and don’t have hooks, springs, and other tiny parts that are prone to damage. As such, the inconveniences of using it are minimal. However, it does not address all of the dental issues that can be solved by traditional braces. It is not the right solution for severe malocclusion or bite alignment problems. It is not useful in aligning tooth roots, particularly when there are gaps involved.
Invisalign® is an effective teeth alignment solution, albeit a little more expensive compared to traditional braces. It does not solve the same range of problems braces can address, but it is effective and less cumbersome.