Crooked teeth can affect everything from our self-confidence to our oral health. Some of us may even notice that our teeth tend to tilt or drift into more crooked or tilted positions as the years go by.
Unfortunately, crooked teeth rarely straighten out on their own. The only exception is typically when a child loses a tooth, and the adult replacement gradually works its way into the open space. But even then, crooked teeth may not straighten out without a bit of professional intervention.
Teeth Alignment Problems
When teeth don’t align properly, it causes more than just aesthetic concerns. Misaligned teeth tend to wear down prematurely, due to the excessive pressure points placed on your tooth enamel. Anything that abrades your enamel also has the capability of breaking down dental work. No matter the quality of your fillings or crowns, they cannot physically withstand excessive, uneven tooth wear.
Plus, crooked teeth typically have a significantly higher risk of tooth decay and gum disease (periodontitis). Even if you have good oral hygiene and a balanced diet, those areas of your smile may be more prone to recurring dental problems.
Finally, misaligned teeth don’t function the same as straight ones when it comes to biting and chewing. In turn, your jaw joints (TMJ) have to move in an atypical manner in order to thoroughly break down food for digestion. Although this may not seem like a significant problem, the ongoing irregular motions can take a toll on your joints. Over the years, you may develop jaw pain or clinical TMJ disorder (TMD).
Options for Crooked Teeth
Treatment for crooked teeth can occur at just about any age. Adults make great orthodontic candidates because they’re invested in their treatment outcome and wear their appliances as directed. And when you combine a versatile treatment like Invisalign into the mix — which was designed with adults in mind — it’s a recipe for success.
Fixed braces can also be useful for adults. However, they come with a few drawbacks. For one, they can catch food and be more difficult to clean each day. Then there’s the fact that some people don’t want visible appliances on their teeth.
The most discreet option for adult and teeth straightening is Invisalign. With clear aligners, you get benefits like:
- A translucent treatment
- Freedom to eat all your favourite foods
- Fewer dental appointments
- Digitally mapped tooth movement
- Improved oral hygiene
- Minimal to no impact on your speech
- Improved comfort
- No “adjustments” or fixed appliances
For people who want a more convenient, easy-to-care-for orthodontic alternative, Invisalign is the clear winner over traditional braces.
Invisalign vs. Braces Effectiveness
Traditional bracket-and-wire braces use a specific point on each tooth to push or pull it into alignment. Since the force comes from a fixed, rigid archwire, the directional movements are fairly static. All of that being said, conventional orthodontics are still extremely effective. Especially for people with severe tooth misalignment needs. When teeth need to be moved in other directions, additional appliances are incorporated into your therapy (such as springs, spacers, expanders, etc.)
When Invisalign was first developed over 20 years ago, its capabilities were not what they are today. The therapy was usually reserved for mild cases of tooth misalignment or orthodontic relapse. But thanks to advanced technological developments, Invisalign is now extremely effective in a wide range of cases, be it mild tooth movement or more aggressive misalignment and crowding.
Both braces and Invisalign are effective. But Invisalign provides better versatility since teeth can be moved from various directions. The aligners can nudge from every side of the tooth, offering an expedited solution that may result in shorter treatment times.
If you’re looking for the most technologically advanced orthodontic treatment, Invisalign is the clear winner. Every stage of your therapy is digitally mapped out before the treatment even starts.
How Does Invisalign Move Teeth?
Instead of using brackets and wires, Invisalign incorporates a series of clear, removable aligners. Each of these transparent trays is printed from 3D digital scans of your smile.
As we scan your smile into the Invisalign planning software, the program allows us to replicate a model of your bite and adjust each tooth. The virtual models allow us to digitally move each tooth into the desired position. In fact, you can even preview a virtual mock-up of your proposed tooth alignment before we order the first set of trays.
From there, a series of trays are produced at Invisalign labs and sent back to our office. When you place them over your teeth, they gently nudge your smile toward an ideal alignment.
Simply change your aligners out every two weeks to continue your tooth movement. Since you switch them out at home, you won’t need frequent orthodontic appointments to have “adjustments” like people with regular braces do.
Make sure you wear your aligners for a minimum of 22 hours a day, to prevent teeth from drifting out of place. The extra two hours give you time to remove them for meals and oral hygiene.
Since Invisalign wraps around each tooth, it’s capable of nudging them from various directions. There’s not a specific push/pull force like with traditional braces. This characteristic means that Invisalign is typically more comfortable for our Caulfield North patients.
Even though Invisalign is extremely successful, you must follow your home care instructions as directed. Not wearing your aligners long enough or skipping to the next pair of trays too soon could result in unwanted side effects. If you think you’ll have trouble keeping up with aligners, then a fixed orthodontic system may be a better alternative.
Invisalign was designed with adults in mind. That being said, teens make great candidates too! Invisalign offers various lines of treatment for adults, teens, and short-term cosmetic cases where minimal tooth movement is needed.
How Long Does It Take to Straighten Teeth with Invisalign?
Invisalign is extremely accurate and efficient when it comes to teeth straightening methods. In some cases, experts even note that Invisalign may work more quickly than traditional braces to straighten teeth.
The length of your Invisalign treatment depends on the complexity of your tooth misalignment.
For example, perhaps you only need to adjust a few teeth at the front of your smile or fine-tune some shifting after wearing braces years prior. If that’s the case, your Invisalign treatment may only take 3-9 months in total.
What about moderate tooth movement needs? On average, traditional Invisalign therapies usually require somewhere between 12-18 months from start to finish. The more complex and significant movement needs, the more likely the therapy can take up to 24 months.
At Hawthorn Road Family Dental, we’re able to provide you with an estimated timeline before you actually start Invisalign treatment. Since the length of your treatment is determined by the number of alignment trays you’ll need (and each aligner moves your teeth a specific amount) we can tabulate the overall timeline. The number of trays also influences the total cost of your Invisalign treatment, which is why there is typically not a flat fee for every patient.
What Happens After Last Invisalign Tray
Teeth typically have a type of “memory” that causes them to want to drift back to where they came from. Whether you wore Invisalign for six months or two years, the way your lips, tongue, and other oral muscles move could potentially nudge teeth to their previous position.
As with other types of orthodontic treatment, you’ll need some type of long-term retention plan after completing Invisalign therapy. Your retainer protects your investment to help keep teeth straight. The only difference is that with Invisalign you’re not wearing a traditional type of retainer. We’ll fit you with a Vivera retainer, which looks almost identical to an Invisalign tray.
Wear your Vivera retainer every day (particularly while you’re sleeping) to prevent relapse in tooth movement. The more time passes, the less often you’ll have to wear your retainer. Most of our Invisalign patients tend to only wear their retainer one or two nights a week as the years go by.
Care for your Vivera retainer the same way you would one of your Invisalign trays. Don’t eat or drink in it, clean it daily, and make sure you don’t store it in an area with high temperatures. If for any reason you lose or break your retainer, we can use your existing digital records to order an exact replica of your final bite alignment.
It’s worth noting that it may occasionally be necessary to place a thin, fixed retainer behind your lower front teeth or upper front teeth. If these lingual retainers are required, they’re discreet and smooth; chances are you’ll forget it’s even there.
Invisalign Consultations Caulfield North
Hawthorn Road Family Dental is proud to offer in-house Invisalign teeth straightening treatments for adults and teens. If you’re considering orthodontic treatment and want a more discreet alternative, find out if Invisalign is right for you.
Contact us today to reserve a no-fuss consultation to see if you qualify.