Most of us have heard about the new and innovative clear aligners called ‘Invisalign’, which have revolutionised teeth straightening since they first came out in the year 2003. With the ease and suitability of a removable plastic aligner that can be taken out to eat, drink, brush your teeth, and floss…who wouldn’t want that?
These aligners are virtually invisible when they are being worn, so you can carry out your daily routine without feeling conscious when smiling or if something is stuck in between your braces. The idea is to get a new pair every 2 weeks, which is part of the plan. Because it works so far and efficiently, some users can start seeing a difference as soon as 2 weeks. After wearing them for at least between 20 to 22 hours a day. Unlike traditional wired braces that were known as ‘railway tracks’ back in the 90s https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dental_braces, you can see the difference on-going, as opposed to only at the end of the treatment.
How long it takes to make an impact will depend on the extent of straightening required for your teeth. Some people have slightly crooked teeth so it would take only 4 to 6 weeks, other people could take up to a few months. But at least you don’t need to visit the dentist so frequently like when you would wear the traditional aligners, either to get your rubber bands removed or replaced or braces tightened, and all sorts of adjustments being made to them.
After your initial consultation is completed and your dentist decides you are a perfect candidate to get invisible braces, he or she then shows you a 3-D print of what your teeth will look like once the period of alteration has been completed, and will also plan a schedule with you for regular visits once the plan starts. This will depend on how fast your teeth start to alter and how regularly you wear the aligner.
To get the best out of it, it is a joint effort between yourself and your orthodontist. You need to wear them continuously for the entirety of the plan and he or she needs to schedule regular appointments to do a check-up and replace them with different sizes as you go along and as your teeth start shifting towards the end goal of straightening them there is, of course, the question of after-care of your equipment, which is just as important as everything else. After all, you are investing in this procedure so you may as well stick with it till the end.
A few tips to help you keep your equipment up-to-par:
Every time you take them out, i.e. to eat or drink and brush or floss, be sure to rinse them under some Lukewarm water. Do not use too hot or too cold water as this may ruin them in the long run as the material they are made out of it a type of plastic which can distort in its shape if something like hot water is placed on them, which means it will lose its specific shape and you will need to go back to the dentist to either get it fixed or replaced, so save yourself that trip by sticking to the Luke warm water.
You can clean the aligners using a soft toothbrush and toothpaste. All you need to do is apply a little toothpaste on a very soft brush (like a brush for babies) and go around them both inside and outside, cleaning them using small circular movements. Rinse again.
Over the past few years, there are tons of different cleaning solutions and treatments that have been claimed to be a lot more efficient than the next one and so they have been studies done about these as well (check here). In any case, it is always a good idea to inspect your retainer every few days to check for any plaque or calcium build-up, if you see any (or even if you don’t see any stains), use a cleaning solution to soak the retainers in for a few hours.
There are cleaning crystals or cleaning tablets specifically created for the sole purpose of cleaning the Invisalign and keeping them nice and clear, and to stop them from smelling. If you don’t have any of these, any retainer cleaning solution can work.
Once cleaned, you can use them again. Rinse and repeat.
Point to note is not to use mouthwash to soak or clean your retainers. This is due to the fact that unless your mouthwash is organic and natural, it may contain colourants which can stick to the retainers and cause them to change their invisible feature, which is kind of the point of these braces – to stay invisible. Similarly, to drinking coffee or hot liquids while still wearing them, which can either stain the device or distort its shape.
Invisalign aligners are a great option for almost anyone to straighten their teeth in the least uncomfortable way possible. After a few wears, you get used to them and forget they were ever there. The trick is to make it a habit and create a routine around them, till its all over and you never have to do it again. It’s easy, affordable and effective and the over 3 million users worldwide can’t be wrong about the difference it has made to their teeth. Reputable resources online can help give you more information about it like this one: https://www.invisalign.co.uk/en/Pages/Home.aspx.
As with anything that you are not sure about, go to a professional, namely a dentist or an orthodontist and book a free consultation. Let them explain the whole procedure to you and show you that 3-D scan of what your teeth will potentially look like after the procedure has been completed, and decide for yourself whether you can afford it or if you would be inclined to try it out. In terms of payments, most dentists or orthodontists have payment plans for their patients, so don’t forget to ask them about this at your initial consultation. It could only do more good than harm for you in the long run, and who doesn’t like a great smile with straight teeth to show off?