Patients who qualify for and choose the Invisalign® system of teeth straightening over braces receive a series of customized clear aligners. These fit snugly over the teeth so as to be nearly invisible to observers. The treatment does not take as long as traditional straightening with braces and is typically more comfortable for the patient because there are no wires or metal to irritate the soft tissues in the mouth and the aligners fit so closely. Find out how this customized fit is achieved.
Creating a custom fit for the aligners requires detailed information about the patient's teeth. If the patient has records relevant to the full treatment, such as bite impressions, photographs, or X-rays, the dentist looks at them again.
It is generally not necessary to take new impressions to design and create Invisalign® aligners. Rather, the patient undergoes an advanced process of three-dimensional rendering. The process quickly and accurately captures a digital image of the teeth used to create the initial aligner. The information is fed into a computer that uses it to create a model to plan the course of treatment. The design of each subsequent appliance is based on the computer model.
Each aligner is then produced using 3D printing technology. To ensure that the aligners fit as comfortably as possible and are less noticeable to others, each is trimmed to the gumline of the individual patient.
The aligners usually are made in three to four weeks and sent back to the dentist. Once the aligners arrive, the patient should schedule an appointment at the dentist's office to receive them. Part of the purpose of this appointment is to make sure that the aligners fit properly. The dentist shows the patient how to remove the aligners and provides instructions about how to care for and wear them. Successful treatment depends on the patient following these instructions closely.
During the treatment, the patient should have frequent dental checkups to ensure that there are no refinements or adjustments needed and that the teeth are moving according to the treatment plan determined at the beginning of the process. The patient wears each set of aligners for approximately two weeks, at which point Invisalign® provides replacements. Patients who wear aligners consistently according to the instructions should start seeing visible results in two to three months. The entire treatment usually takes about a year.
Because the aligners are removable, brushing and flossing are much easier for Invisalign® patients compared to those with braces. Patients must be diligent about performing dental hygiene and cleaning the trays as well.
Once the treatment is complete, patients still need to wear a tray to prevent the teeth from shifting back. This is more of a retainer made of a thicker material and is worn primarily at night.
Invisalign® aligners are created using a 3D printing process after a scan of the teeth using advanced rendering technology. Treatment is much more comfortable for the patient than traditional braces and, if aligners are worn consistently, treatment time is significantly shorter.
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