Invisalign 101

Here at Adult & Pediatric Orthodontics, we’re proud to offer patients of all ages a wide range of affordable treatment options, including Invisalign clear aligners. If you’ve been considering orthodontic treatment to improve your smile but have been on the fence about traditional braces, Invisalign can be an excellent choice! This innovative aligner system is our most popular alternative to braces, and can achieve the same beautiful results without any brackets or wires. If you’re not familiar with Invisalign, you may not be sure what the system is or how the aligners work. Keep reading below for a closer look at this exciting treatment option! 

What is the Invisalign clear aligner system? How does it work?

To understand what Invisalign is, it helps to know a bit about orthodontic appliances in general. Orthodontists like Dr. Yu can use either fixed or removable appliances to straighten teeth and improve oral health. Traditional braces are a fixed appliance, which means the brackets are affixed to the surface of the teeth and can only be removed by an orthodontic professional. Patients don’t really interact with the braces besides keeping them clean and following the guidelines given to them by their orthodontist. 

Invisalign aligners, on the other hand, are removable appliances. Although they’re custom-designed for a snug fit, the aligners aren’t actually attached to any part of the teeth. They are meant to be removed before eating, drinking anything other than water, or brushing and flossing the teeth. Invisalign uses a series of these aligners to apply gentle pressure to the teeth, which will gradually move them into the desired positions over time. 

Patient compliance is essential for success with Invisalign! If the aligners aren’t switched out according to the treatment plan, or if patients don’t wear them the recommended 20-22 hours daily, it can lead to subpar results and longer treatment times. 

How does the Invisalign process work?

If Dr. Yu finds that you’re a good fit for Invisalign and you decide to move forward with treatment, we’ll begin that process by mapping out a precise treatment plan for your smile! We do this using a highly detailed 3D scan of your teeth and gums. Your customized treatment plan will include all the movements we want your teeth to make and is incredibly fine-tuned. It will give us an idea of how long we expect your treatment to take, and you may even get a sneak peek of what your new smile will look like!

We’ll also use this scan to create your custom aligners using Invisalign’s special SmartTrack® material. This allows them to fit snugly but comfortably! While the number of aligners needed will vary from case to case, most patients can expect anywhere from 18-30 aligners altogether. The total treatment time averages from 9-15 months, but this will also depend on your specific needs and how you respond to treatment. 

As we mentioned above, it’s up to you to wear your aligners as directed by Dr. Yu. For the Invisalign system to work properly, aligners need to be worn for 20-22 hours daily, throughout the course of treatment. You’ll also be in charge of changing each aligner out for the next in the series every 1-2 weeks as your teeth begin moving. Regular check-ups are an important part of the treatment process, and you’ll be scheduled for follow-up appointments with us every 8 weeks or so. During these visits, Dr. Yu will check that everything is progressing as it should be according to your treatment plan. 

What are the benefits of Invisalign clear aligners?

Because Invisalign aligners are both clear and removable, they offer patients an extra measure of freedom that is lacking with traditional braces! Food restrictions are a good example of this. In order to protect the wires and brackets, patients in braces need to avoid eating anything that’s crunchy or chewy. This eliminates several foods and snacks, and many people who have worn braces will tell you that this can be one of the toughest parts of treatment. 

Invisalign patients have no food restrictions and can continue eating all their favorite foods! You simply take them out any time you want to eat, then put them back in when you’re done. This makes it easier to maintain a good oral hygiene routine, too. It can be time-consuming to brush and floss around brackets, wires, and bands, but aligners are removed before brushing and flossing as you normally would! Cleaning the aligners couldn’t be easier, either.  There are special kits designed to do this, or you can gently brush them using toothpaste and a soft toothbrush.

Removable aligners can also be a bonus for athletes, musicians who play certain instruments, or anyone who wants their natural smile to shine through for short periods of time, like a wedding, prom, or senior photos! 

Who is a good candidate for Invisalign clear aligners?

Invisalign can work as well as braces for many of the most common orthodontic issues, particularly if they’re mild to moderate cases. Invisalign is not for everyone, however. Cases that are especially complex or severe may require more precise tooth control than a removable aligner is able to achieve. When you schedule a FREE consultation with Dr. Yu, she’ll be able to determine if Invisalign is a good fit for your smile! 


What happens once Invisalign treatment is complete?

Whatever treatment you choose, your teeth will always remember their previous place in your mouth. Once the pressure of braces or aligners is removed, they will naturally begin to drift back towards those places. That’s why retainers are so important! Once you complete your treatment with us, we’ll provide you with a retainer. In order to maintain your newly straightened smile, you should take care to wear it exactly as directed by Dr. Yu.

Trust your smile to the Invisalign experts at Adult & Pediatric Orthodontics

It’s easy to see why Invisalign continues to be the most popular alternative to traditional braces. This innovative treatment option continues to change the way people view orthodontics, and we’re excited to offer it to patients in our Portland and Windham offices! 

Would you like to learn more about how the Invisalign system can help transform your smile? Get in touch with us today to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Yu and our expert team! It’s the perfect time to take the first step towards the smile you’ve always wanted.