Whether you’ve only heard about it in passing, or know someone who has used it, you’re probably somewhat familiar with the Invisalign clear aligner system. As the most popular alternative to traditional braces, Invisalign offers the same beautiful results without using any brackets, wires, or bands. Because the aligners give patients a freedom and flexibility that simply isn’t available with other methods of treatment, teen and adult patients are often interested in learning more about the system. 

When you make the decision to work towards a healthier smile with Invisalign, it can be really exciting. You’re taking the first step towards improving your oral health and achieving the straighter smile you’ve always wanted, and that’s something to celebrate! But it can feel a little overwhelming, too, particularly if you don’t know much about what to expect from the process. After all, even though the concept behind Invisalign is relatively simple as orthodontics go, treatment of any kind is a big commitment.  

At Kottemann Orthodontic, we want you to feel confident in your decision to pursue treatment with our talented team. Because orthodontic treatment is most successful when you’re a full participant in it, we’ve put together this survival guide to the Invisalign system. Keep reading below to learn what Invisalign actually is, how it works, and how you can get the best smile out of your clear aligners!

(Are you a good candidate for Invisalign? Click here to schedule a free consultation with us and find out!)

What is Invisalign?

Traditional braces use brackets, wires, and bands to move the teeth into more desirable positions. They are a fixed appliance, meaning the brackets are affixed directly to the teeth and can only be removed by an orthodontist. In contrast, Invisalign utilizes a series of removable clear aligners. These aligners are made of a special thermoplastic resin that is custom-designed to fit snugly and comfortably over your own teeth. Because they are removable and nearly invisible, Invisalign aligners are often an excellent alternative to traditional braces.

Assistant working on a patient's teeth

How does the Invisalign system work?

After one of our doctors determines you are a good fit for Invisalign, we can begin the process of custom designing your aligners. Using a highly-detailed 3D scan of your teeth and gums, we’ll map out a precise treatment plan that’s personalized just for you. This plan will include the exact movements we want your teeth to make, and will also give us an indication of how long we expect treatment to take. You might even get the chance to see what your smile will look like once your Invisalign treatment is complete!

The aligners themselves are created from a special SmartTrack® material, which is strong but still fits comfortably over your own teeth. Because each patient responds to treatment in their own way, the total number of aligners required will vary from case to case. On average, however, patients tend to need anywhere from 18-30 aligners over the course of their treatment. Treatment times will also vary depending on your specific needs, but in general, the process can take anywhere from 9-15 months. Keep in mind, however, that this could be longer or shorter depending on your particular case.

As the patient, you actually play a big role in how successful your Invisalign treatment will be! Because the Invisalign aligners are removable, it’s up to you to wear them exactly as directed by your doctor. To work properly and produce the best results, aligners must be worn for at least 20-22 hours every day throughout treatment. You should only remove them to eat or drink anything other than water, or when you are brushing and flossing.

Aligners will need to be switched out for the next in the series at predetermined intervals to keep up with the movements your teeth are making. This will usually be every 1-2 weeks, depending on your personalized treatment plan. Regular check-ups are also an essential part of the treatment process, just like they are with braces. You can expect follow-up appointments with us every 6-10 weeks or so. During these visits, we’ll ensure everything is proceeding according to your treatment plan, so it’s important not to miss them!

Caring for your Invisalign aligners

Keep the teeth and gums healthy is important for everybody, orthodontic patient or not. While this can sometimes be frustrating and time-consuming when you’re wearing braces, it’s easy to achieve with Invisalign! Simply remove the aligner before brushing and flossing the way you normally would. We recommend that all of our orthodontic patients brush at least twice a day for two minutes each time, and floss every night before bed. 

It’s important to take care of your aligners, too. Dried saliva and plaque breed bacteria, so you should rinse your aligner every time you take it out. To keep the trays clear and sanitized, you can soak them in denture cleaner or with special Invisalign cleaning crystals. Brushing your aligners is another option, just be sure to do so gently and carefully. Brushing too hard can scratch your aligners and leave visible etchings. 

Toothpaste is never necessary when cleaning your aligners. In fact, this can damage the material. Many toothpaste brands have abrasive agents that are great for giving you sparkling teeth, but can actually dull aligners or create small openings for bacteria to grow in them.

The best candidates for Invisalign

Invisalign can be a great option for many of the most common orthodontic issues in teens and adults. For cases that are more severe or complex, we may recommend other treatment methods. When you schedule a free consultation with our office, we’ll be able to determine if Invisalign is likely to be a good fit for you and your smile!

Dr. talking to a patient

Once your Invisalign treatment is complete

Whatever treatment method you choose, your teeth will always retain memories of their previous place in your mouth. Over time, they’ll naturally begin drifting back towards those original positions. This is why retainers are such an important part of the complete treatment process! Once you’ve finished the active phase of Invisalign treatment, we’ll provide you with a retainer and advise you on how to wear it for long-lasting results. You should always wear your retainer as directed, as this will help prevent any natural drifting and keep your newly straightened smile in place!

Invisalign is the clear choice at Kottemann Orthodontics

Here at Kottemann Orthodontics, we’re dedicated to providing you with an orthodontic experience that is as positive and stress-free as possible. Like anything new adventure, the Invisalign system can take a little getting used to. But before you know it, the aligners will be just one more part of your daily routine! 

Should you have any questions or concerns about your treatment plan or the Invisalign system, our expert team is always available to help. If you’d like more information on how Invisalign can benefit your mile, give us a call today to schedule a FREE consultation. This is the perfect time to take the first step towards the beautiful smile you’ve been dreaming of!