Invisalign FAQ: 2020 Edition
Everyone wants great teeth and a beautiful smile. But sometimes, genetics just doesn’t work out the way we’d like and sometimes you’re stuck with teeth that just don’t align perfectly. But just because you didn’t start out with perfect teeth doesn’t mean you’re stuck with them. Invisalign might be the solution you’ve been waiting for.
If you are new to Invisalign, you may have some questions about how it works and whether or not it’s worthwhile. We have updated our Ultimate Invisalign Guide to discuss some of the biggest Invisalign FAQs in 2020 to help you determine if Invisalign is right for you.
What is Invisalign?
Invisalign is a technique in which transparent aligners made out of SmartTrack material are utilized to correct your teeth. Basically, they’re a set of clear, removable aligners that work to straighten your teeth over time just like braces, but without using wires or brackets at all.
The SmartTrack material is a patented thermoplastic material that was made just for use for Invisalign. Because this material was made safely, Invisalign is FDA approved and doesn’t have harmful chemicals such as latex. If you’re allergic to gluten, no need to worry: Invisalign is gluten-free as well.
The aligners are specially designed for each individual patient. A skilled orthodontist will make a digital map of your teeth and form your aligners specifically to apply the right pressure in the right places and solve your smile concerns. Through every step of the process, you’ll be monitored by your orthodontist.
When it comes to finding the right orthodontist for your treatment, the best orthodontists for Invisalign Philadelphia are Invisalign Diamond+ orthodontists, as they see hundreds of patients annually and are particularly skilled for Invisalign treatment.
How Do the Aligners Work?
Another one of the most popular Invisalign FAQs is: how do they work?
Invisalign works similarly to metal braces do; their main advantage is the fact that they are clear as opposed to braces. Your aligners are designed to put gentle force on your teeth, in different areas, and with careful timing, to bring them into a more aesthetic and functional alignment. Each aligner is designed to make only the slightest of adjustments.
Aligners are swapped out usually about every two weeks, to continue putting pressure on your teeth. This ensures that your orthodontist can continue monitoring the progress of your teeth and alter the aligners if necessary.
Eventually, the incremental progress will slowly accumulate, and you’ll discover that your smile is better than ever. The best part of it all is that you won’t have to deal with the bulk or discomfort of traditional braces to get the smile you’ve always wanted.
Why Choose Invisalign Over Metal Braces?
When compared to traditional metal braces, Invisalign aligners have so many more benefits. They both straighten your teeth for you, but with Invisalign you don’t have those unsightly metal brackets and wires in your mouth and you don’t have to worry as much about what you eat. If you are considering adult braces, Invisalign may be a more appealing option.
In addition, the smooth, clear aligners are practically invisible in your mouth and very comfortable to wear. It is also easier to keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy with Invisalign because the aligners are removable. You are not trying to brush and floss around brackets and wires like you are with metal braces.
How Long Is Treatment?
Treatment length varies depending on your particular alignment issues, but in general, Invisalign treatment for adults usually can be completed in twelve to eighteen months. Treatment for tweens and tweens usually lasts as long as traditional braces, about two to three years.
Consult an experienced orthodontist, preferably a Diamond + orthodontist, to find out what their estimated treatment schedule looks like. The great thing about Invisalign aligners is that because they are clear you will be able to start seeing a straighter smile within the first few weeks.
How Often Do I Have To Wear My Aligners?
One of the most popular Invisalign FAQs is, how often do I have to wear my aligners? This is crucial to the effectiveness of your treatment. You must wear your aligners every day for 20 to 22 hours in order for them to work.
When you take your aligners out to eat and drink or to clean them and your teeth, make sure you put them right back in. Missing large gaps of treatment time will derail your treatment which can be very frustrating. And typically you will receive a new set of aligners every two weeks.
How is Invisalign Different from Mail-Order Teeth Aligners?
Have you seen the social media ads for mail-order teeth alignment? They have seen a huge rise in popularity recently as people look for orthodontic work at a lower cost. And you might look at the clear trays used by these companies and wonder if they are any different than the Invisalign trays.
The answer is: yes! Invisalign is definitely a different product. The mail-order companies make an impression of your teeth and use it to develop clear trays, just like Invisalign. However, they do not complete any additional assessment, such as x-rays or gum examinations. The trays they make are not part of a progressive series and stay the same for your entire treatment.
The Invisalign process may look similar, but it is far safer. You are carefully evaluated before beginning treatment, and you are closely monitored during every stage. You receive new aligners every few weeks to take your progress as far as it can go without damaging your teeth.
Do I have To Give Up Certain Foods?
No! One of the best parts of the Invisalign system is that you do not have to restrict your diet. The trays are meant to be removed while you eat, so you do not have to worry about damaging them with hard or sticky foods. You may want to be a little easy on your teeth after each new set of aligners though, because your teeth may be a little uncomfortable while adjusting.
Keep in mind, though, that you will need to brush your teeth after eating before you put the aligners back in. If you eat a food that will be very difficult to brush out (say, corn on the cob), make sure you have enough time to clean thoroughly before wearing the aligners again.
What Is the Best Way To Care For My Aligners?
Avoid discoloration, odor and a buildup of bacteria by following these tips for how to clean Invisalign trays.
Each morning take your aligners out and clean both your teeth and the aligners thoroughly. While you were sleeping a lot of bacteria could have built up on the aligners so it is important to start the day off right with clean teeth and aligners. Make sure you do this every evening as well.
Always rinse them when you remove them. To prevent dry saliva and plaque from building up, make sure you rinse your aligners every time you take them out of your mouth. You want to avoid creating an inviting environment for bacteria to grow. You can also use a clear anti-bacterial soap to keep your aligners clean and clear.
Brushing the aligners with a soft-bristled toothbrush can also help remove some of the plaque. Even when you are out and about and not in the comfort of your own home, it is important to properly take care of your Invisalign aligners.
Soak your aligners every day. The best way to make sure your Invisalign aligners are as clean as possible is to soak them in either a denture cleaner or Invisalign cleaning crystals. After they are finished soaking, use an extra toothbrush that you don’t use for your teeth to brush off any lingering plaque or food particles and then rinse the aligners before placing them back in your mouth.
Always brush and floss your teeth before putting the aligners back in. If you put the aligners back in when there are food particles still stuck between your teeth, you will be trapping them inside the aligners which could lead to cavities and other dental issues down the road.
What Are the Invisalign Cleaning Crystals?
As discussed, it is very important to keep your Invisalign aligner trays clean at all times. If you are often in a hurry and worry about cutting corners with your cleaning routine, you should look into the Invisalign Cleaning System. Invisalign offers this product as an alternative to brushing your trays multiple times a day.
To use the system, you place your Invisalign aligner trays in warm water and add the Cleaning Crystals. You gently shake the mixtures to evenly distribute the crystals, and then you let the whole thing sit for about 15 minutes. Then you shake it again, remove the trays, and rinse them off in warm water. NEVER use hot water on your trays, as it could melt or soften the plastic.
Using the Invisalign Cleaning System is not required though. You can keep your aligners just as clean with old-fashioned brushing. Some studies have even found that the best approach is a combination of the Cleaning System and brushing with toothpaste. Whatever method you choose, be sure to do it consistently and thoroughly.
Where Can I Buy Invisalign Cleaning Crystals?
Luckily it is very easy to find places to buy Invisalign Cleaning Crystals. You can buy them directly from Invisalign, order them online from Amazon or even pick them up at your local Walmart. Get recommendations from your orthodontist on how best to clean your aligners and where to get all the cleaning accessories you will need.
Does Invisalign Hurt?
While there is pressure on your teeth to align them, many patients are not very affected by this. However, it is entirely possible that you may feel a little discomfort and soreness, especially when you are starting with a new set of liners.
This discomfort should clear up within a few days and should never exceed pain beyond some general sensitivity. As your teeth and mouth become used to the pressure from the Invisalign, you’ll find that the soreness dissipates and you can no longer notice the pressure at all.
For the early days, you can utilize minor pain medication, such as that for headaches, to help alleviate the discomfort if necessary.
Is Invisalign Easy To Use?
Yes, that is what people love the most about Invisalign. The aligners are easy to put in and remove and are very comfortable to wear. There are no sharp edges that can dig into your gums and because they are practically invisible to people around you, you will feel more confident wearing them.
Also because they are removable, keeping your aligners and teeth and gums clean is a lot easier. You will be able to get into all the nooks and crannies without any problems.
How Do I Know If Invisalign Is Right for Me?
Orthodontic treatment is a big commitment of time and money so you want to make sure you choose the right kind of treatment. How do you know if Invisalign is right for you? The best thing to do is do your research on all your options and weigh all the pros and cons of each type of treatment and have an initial consultation with at least a couple of different orthodontists because who does your treatment matters too.
Invisalign is a great choice if you are looking for a treatment that will be less invasive, but still very much effective. If you don’t like the look of traditional metal braces, than invisible aligners will definitely be more preferable.
Drs. Pale, Gemmi and Middleberg are Invisalign Diamond + orthodontists who really care about their patients and who will work closely with you to make sure you get the best results possible.
What Alignment Issues Can Invisalign Treat?
Probably the most important of the Invisalign FAQs is, what alignment issues can Invisalign treat? The most common problems Invisalign braces are used to treat include gapped teeth, an overbite which occurs when the upper teeth protrude out over the lower teeth, underbite which is when the lower teeth protrude past the upper teeth and an open bite where the teeth are not aligned properly for a proper bite. Other treatable issues are overcrowding of teeth and a crossbite which can happen if both the upper and lower jaws are not aligned properly.
Will Invisalign Fix TMJ?
Yes, when your TMJ is due to misaligned jaws, Invisalign can help. If you are experiencing TMJ symptoms, consult with an orthodontist to see if fixing the alignment of your teeth and jaws will help.
When Is Invisalign Not An Option?
Today’s Invisalign technology has come a long way and most alignment issues can be treated with it, but sometimes if you have complicated oral health and severe alignment issues, it might not be the best choice for you.
For example, if you already have gum disease or receding gums or weakened bones, then your orthodontist probably won’t recommend it. Your best bet is to get evaluated by a trusted orthodontist to see what the best options are for your particular situation.
Additionally, Invisalign may not be appropriate for very young patients whose jaws and teeth have a lot of growing left to do. We want to make sure that no corrective action is needed later in life.
Is Invisalign Appropriate for Teens?
Teenagers may be able to benefit from Invisalign as well. Adults and youth have different orthodontic needs because their jaws and teeth are in different stages of growth. Typically Invisalign was exclusively for adults because their jaws are finished growing. But now with the development of Invisalign Teen, younger patients can reap the benefits as well.
Invisalign Teen shares many similarities with Invisalign Adult. They both involve making an impression of your teeth and having clear plastic alignment trays made from that mold. However, Invisalign Teen aligners have blue indicators that help teens keep track of how long they have been wearing their aligners. Adolescents may be more likely than adults to forget to place the trays back in after eating.
Invisalign is a really appealing option for teenagers for a variety of reasons. First, they are usually more comfortable. The clear plastic trays prevent food from getting lodged or metal from snagging cheeks. Second, they are typically much more attractive than metal braces. For a teen who is embarrassed by their need for braces, this can help them avoid shame. Invisalign is practically invisible.
Teens can also remove the trays if needed for things like Yearbook Photos or dates. And if they play after-school sports, they can remove the trays to avoid causing them any damage. Just remember though that the trays should only be removed for a few hours a day, including the times for eating and drinking.
Why Is Wearing Invisalign 22 Hours A Day Necessary?
22 hours is most of the day which can seem like a lot, but it is really truly necessary for you to wear your Invisalign aligners for that long every day. This is because the aligners gradually put pressure on your teeth to move them into better alignment and this takes time. If you have them out for long gaps of time during the day, not enough pressure is being exerted to get the results you want.
What Are Invisalign Attachments?
Sometimes during Invisalign treatments, your orthodontist will add tooth-colored “handles” to your teeth to give the aligners something to push against. They help increase the pressure on your teeth to get the proper alignment. They are invisible just like the aligners though so you will barely notice that they are there.
What Are Invisalign Buttons?
Some patients might need a little extra pressure to shift their teeth than just their aligners. That is where the Invisalign buttons come in. What exactly are they? Well, they are small tooth-colored dots of dental bonding that are places on specific teeth, usually in the middle of the tooth. Buttons can be created in a variety of shapes, including rectangular, square, circular, ellipsoidal or triangular in shape. It all depends on what its purpose is. In general though the buttons create extra pressure between the tooth and the aligner to help it shift better.
Which Invisalign Type Do I Need?
There are actually different types of Invisalign you can choose from including:
- Invisalign Full are the most common type of Invisalign. It can treat the most complex bite issues. With this type of treatment, you will have top and bottom aligners for about a year to 18 months.
- Invisalign Lite is better for less complex issues. It is also a quicker solution when you need teeth straightened before you can get cosmetic dentistry work like veneers or crowns.
- Invisalign i7 is the newest version of Invisalign and is the one that takes the least amount of time. It is perfect if you just have one or two crooked teeth or just a minor crowding issue because you can focus the aligners on just those areas. This is also a good option if you have already had orthodontic work, but your teeth have started to move back into their original spots.
- Invisalign Teen is geared to teenagers who need braces, but don’t want to be embarrassed by a mouth full of metal. In the teen years, your mouth and teen are constantly growing so these aligners are designed to deal with these issues. These aligners have a compliance indicator which will fade from blue to clear to indicate if your teen is wearing the aligners enough hours in a day.
Each type varies a little in what they treat so you should consult with your orthodontist to see which one will meet your needs best.
What Accessories Should I Get?
Here is a list of the most common accessories that can help you adjust to your Invisalign a lot easier. They include:
- Orthodontic Wax – Even though Invisalign aligners are usually more comfortable to wear, you can sometime still experience so discomfort from the aligners and any buttons or attachments the orthodontist might have adhered to your teeth to help straighten your smile.
- Aligner Retrieval Tools – Usually there is a learning curve to learn the smoothest way to get the aligners in and out of your mouth and There are tools available that can make it a lot easier to get the aligners on and off your teeth and to make sure it is positioned properly. Look for one that is made of surgical stainless steel so it is easy to keep clean and will last you a long time.
- Invisalign Chewies – Chewies are another product that can help you with switching the aligners in and out. You can usually get them 2 in a pack.
- Travel Oral Hygiene Kit/Storage Case Combo – Probably the most important accessory for your Invisalign braces is a storage case that also doubles as an oral hygiene kit. You are wearing the aligners for 20 to 24 hours and will be taking them in and out at different times of the day so being prepared is key. You need a discrete place to store the aligners when you are not wearing them and you need to also have on hand all your cleaning products and tools because you need to clean not only your teeth and gums every time you take the aligners out, but also the aligners themselves. To have all this in a compact travel kit you can take everywhere will make your life so much easier.
- Cleansing Towelettes and Sprays – If you are looking for quick ways to clean your aligners and freshen them up, you can buy cleansing towelettes that you can simply wipe your aligners quickly without the need to rinse them out. If you prefer a spray to towelettes, you can get an Invisalign and retainer cleaner spray.
- Cleaning Crystals – Invisalign offers its own cleaning system to help simplify the process. If you do not want to brush the trays you can purchase packs of cleaning crystals from Invisalign or possibly your orthodontist. You place the trays in water, mix in the crystals, and let them sit for about 15 minutes. Take them out, rinse them in warm water, and voila! Clean aligners!
How Does Invisalign Look on Your Teeth?
Because the aligners are made of clear plastic, Invisalign is pretty much invisible. People would have to look really hard at your teeth to spot them. Most people will never know you are wearing them unless you tell them.
Of course, you need to take really good care of the aligners. Aligners can get stained and give off an odor if they are not cleaned properly.
Can I Smoke While Wearing the Aligners?
No, we do not recommend smoking while wearing the Invisalign trays. Smoking can cause significant discoloration which will affect how your trays look. If the discoloration is problematic, you may end up needing to replace them, which could be costly and interfere with your treatment progress.
Is Invisalign Affordable?
Yes, Invisalign treatment is affordable for most people. While sometimes it can be more expensive than metal braces, when you consider all the benefits of choosing Invisalign, it is definitely worth it. And most orthodontists will work with you to find the right payment plan. Your oral health is too important to not fix any problems with your smile.
First check with your dental insurance plan; most of them will cover Invisalign as well as metal braces. Then talk to your orthodontist about setting up affordable monthly payments for the difference in cost. Some practices will allow you to make in-house payments while others might offer CareCredit, a third-party patient financing program to help you cover your treatment.
Which Insurances Cover Invisalign?
Invisalign treatment cost can vary depending on the length of treatment and how many teeth need to be corrected, but it usually ranges between about $2,800 and $4,800. It is actually very comparable to the cost of traditional metal braces.
Most dental insurances will cover at least a portion of your Invisalign treatment, usually 25 or 50% of the total cost. The most common insurances that cover Invisalign include Delta Dental, Metlife, Cigna, Guardian, AETNA, Humana, Assurant, United Healthcare, and United Concordia. Call your dental insurance company to find out exactly what they cover.
How Do I Pay for My Portion of the Cost?
If you insurances doesn’t cover the whole cost, you may be worrying how you are going to pay off the part you are responsible for. Luckily, you have a few options. Both Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Savings Accounts can be used. Both are offered through employers.
A Flexible Spending Account is an account that can be used to pay certain medical, dental or orthodontics bills. You add funds to the account pre-tax and use them within a year. A Health Savings Account is for people with high-deductible plans. They can add funds to their account but do not have to spend them within a year. These funds roll over indefinitely and can be a great option for paying for Invisalign. There is also the CareCredit credit card that you can apply for which allows to get the treatment you need right now and then make monthly payments to pay it off.
What If I Get Sick During Invisalign Treatment?
Dental experts agree that if you are sick and can’t wear your aligners the required amount of time for a few days, that it will not completely wreck your treatment plan. Just try to wear them as much as possible and if you notice that your aligners don’t fit correctly anymore, you may need to go back to an earlier set of aligners. In addition, if you are not wearing your aligners the prescribed amount of time, then don’t move up to the next set of aligners either. Keep your orthodontist informed on what is happening so he or she can adjust your treatment plan accordingly.
Can Invisalign Go Wrong?
Like with any dental or medical treatment, there is always a risk, but that is why you always choose an Invisalign provider who has a proven record for successful treatments and happy patients. When you have a skilled orthodontist treating you, you can feel confident in the treatment that you are getting. Always check their Invisalign provider status and ask for references, and before and after photos. Never just take their word for it.
Can Invisalign Make You Sick?
Invisalign aligners are made of a safe plastic and in general do not cause any problems. However, if you have a plastic allergy you could get severely sick from it so make sure you talk to your orthodontists about all your allergies when trying to pick out the right treatment option.
In addition, while the actual aligners won’t make you sick, you could catch germs from them if you don’t clean them properly and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water whenever handling the aligners and putting them in your mouth.
Are Invisalign Results Permanent?
This really depends on you. For best results, you need to follow all the instructions of your orthodontist, making sure you wear your aligners every day for the prescribed amount of time. Also, like with any type of orthodontic treatment, you will need to wear retainers after your Invisalign treatment. This will help keep your teeth in their teeth permanently. Do all this and you will be able to enjoy your beautiful smile for the rest of your life.
Will Invisalign Change My Jaw?
This is a complicated answer. Depending on the severity of crooked teeth and any jaw issues, sometime straighten your smile can cause changes to your jaw and your facial profile. If it does happen, it is usually very subtle. If you are worried about your profile changing because you like the way it is right now, make sure you talk to your orthodontist. Orthodontists are skilled to know how teeth alignment can affect your facial features and can answer any of your concerns.
Can Invisalign Cause Bone Loss?
No. Invisalign actually helps prevent bone loss by straightening your teeth which makes it easier to keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy. In addition, the Invisalign technology is a lot gentler on your teeth than metal braces. Some bone loss naturally occurs with aging, but as long as you take good care of your teeth and gums, you will have a beautiful smile for the rest of your life.
Can Invisalign Give You Headaches?
Because your face, jaw and teeth are all connected, sometime the pressure applied to your teeth as they shift can cause headaches. Other side effects include jaw popping or grinding, jaw pain, neck pain and earaches.
When Will I Start to See Results with Invisalign?
Usually it takes a few months before you start to see results with Invisalign. Sometimes however a patient can start to feel subtle changes with that first tray. It all depends on the individual patient.
Will I Need To Wear a Retainer After Treatment?
Just like with regular braces, the end of your treatment doesn’t necessarily mean that your teeth will be perfectly straight for the rest of your life. Most orthodontists will recommend that you wear a retainer even after the completion of your aligners’ work to prevent your teeth from moving back to their original position over a long period of time.
This is not a guarantee, however. If you only require a slight correction from Invisalign, it’s definitely possible that you won’t have to wear a retainer after the fact. The more drastic the correction, the more likely that you’ll need to wear a retainer.
Thankfully, you can get retainers from the same orthodontist who helped you with your Invisalign treatment. There are several different retainer options that you can look into to best suit your lifestyle and schedule. Many retainers only need to be worn at night.
Who Started Invisalign?
Invisalign actually first started just as an idea of a student at Stanford University. Zia Chisti was just finishing up his own orthodontic treatment with the traditional metal braces when you was inspired. He wanted to see if he could create aligners similar to retainers that would work just as well or better than metal braces.
To bring his idea to fruition, he teamed up with Kelsey Wirth and eventually also brought Apostolos Lerios and Brian Freyburger on to their project. The four of them cofounded Align Technology in 1997. Align Technology is headquartered in San Jose, CA. The aligners are made in Juarez, Mexico. Today, there are several different types of Invisalign aligners to choose from.
How Do I Find an Invisalign Provider?
Invisalign is offered by orthodontists. Usually, your dentist will first mention at one of your regular checkups that you should get evaluated by an orthodontist. Once you choose an orthodontist you are comfortable with, he or she will evaluate your particular situation and make recommendations based on the type of alignment issues you may be having.
When deciding which orthodontist to choose, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. Ask if they are a top-tier certified provider. The higher the certification level they have, the more experienced they are in providing Invisalign treatment. When undergoing a medical procedure, you want to make sure you are in the best hands.
You should also make sure they have schedules and policies that fit your needs. Will you be able to get to their office for appointments? Do they offer payment plans that you need? Do they have the specific gear you will need?
Who Does Invisalign Near Me?
There are lot of orthodontists in the Philadelphia, Bucks and Montgomery Count areas, but they all do not offer Invisalign, and none of them are as experienced using the Invisalign technology as we are.
Invisalign providers can have four different certification designations: Preferred, Premier, Premier Elite, and Diamond/Diamond Plus. We are the only Invisalign Diamond Plus provider in Philadelphia. This means that while a Preferred provider will know how to use Invisalign, we work with the technology every day.
Your best bet is to ask for referrals and do some online research to come up with a few prospective candidates and then schedule an initial consultation with the top contenders so you can confidently pick the right one for you.
How Have Invisalign Braces Changed the Face of Orthodontic Care?
Aesthetics count more in orthodontic care now. When metal or ceramic braces were your only options, you were forced to deal with a mouth full of metal and wires for long periods of time. This can be really hard especially for tweens and teens who are very appearance focused. Concerns about how braces make you look now though is not as big of a problem because of innovative technologies like Invisalign.
There is also more flexibility in orthodontic care now. With the metal braces, once the orthodontist places them on your teeth, there they must remain until he or she removes them when treatment is finished. Invisalign braces however were designed with the wearer’s comfort in mind and are more flexible.
With these braces, you can remove them on your own for short periods of time, like for instance, when you want to eat or drink something or when you are cleaning and flossing your teeth. With Invisalign there are no barriers to getting a proper clean.
It is also a more comfortable experience. Invisalign braces don’t include any metal or wires that could cause damage to the inside your mouth. The clear braces are designed with a smooth finish so that they are no sharp edges that can cause you discomfort. Also metal braces have been known to accelerate teeth decay because of the enormous amount of pressure put on the teeth.
With Invisalign, you still get the desired results but in a way that is gentler on your teeth. There are also no restrictions on what food you can eat like with metal braces so overall orthodontic care has become a much more comfortable experience then it used to be.
Probably one of the best things about choosing Invisalign is that even though it is a gentler process than conventional metal braces, it doesn’t take as long to do the same work. While you could wear metal braces for 3 years or more, you typically only have to wear the Invisalign braces from a year to a year and a half.
When you choose Invisalign braces, there is less trial and error involved because everything is planned out ahead of time using special software. This means you will know what to expect ahead of time and there will be little room for guesswork.
At Orthodontics Limited, we believe that it is our mission to help you get the healthiest, most beautiful smile possible. Call us today for an initial consultation and find out why we are a top orthodontist in Center City.
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