During a consultation with your dentist or orthodontist, they review your dental history, complete an oral exam, take a series of oral X-rays and take a 3D digital scan of your teeth with the iTero Element scanner (technology also owned by Align Technology) to generate a custom teeth-aligning plan. They show you how your teeth will move from their current alignment to ideal alignment with digital imagining, as well as disclose how many sets of aligner trays (and weeks of wear) will be needed for the course of your treatment plan.
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During this consultation, the dental professional will also inform you whether your treatment plan should include the attachment of clear “buttons” on the front of certain teeth to help anchor and pivot your aligners over time to achieve optimal results.
Depending on the professional providing treatment, Invisalign can help correct:
- Crooked teeth
- Overlapping teeth
- Gaps between teeth
- Misaligned and malpositioned jaws
After you agree to your treatment plan, the dentist or orthodontist orders a series of computer-generated rigid plastic aligner trays that gradually move the teeth based on your digital scans. With the exception of eating, the trays are meant to be worn 24/7, says Dr. Yang.
While it may be tempting to remove them for a work meeting or social function, sporadic wearing of the trays can prolong treatment time or even disrupt treatment, she adds. It’s recommended that patients brush and/or rinse both their mouth and aligners after every meal (or beverage that isn’t water.)
Once your sets of trays arrive at your dental office, your dental professional examines your smile again with the first set of trays in place, ensuring a proper fit. Then, every few weeks, you meet with your dentist again for a check-up appointment regarding your progress. During these sessions, they tell you when you can move on to the next set of trays in your treatment plan and provide your next batch of aligners.
Depending on the complexity of your case, your treatment plan could last as little as six months, according to Invisalign. With that said, most patients start noticing results within a matter of weeks. For an accurate estimate of your specific completion time, request a consultation with your dentist or orthodontist.
Once your treatment plan is complete, you can either continue wearing your final set of aligner trays as retainers or purchase a set of Vivera retainers, which are sturdier than the aligner trays. All orthodontic treatment requires the wearing of retainers to keep the teeth straight and stable, especially adult orthodontics, says Dr. Yang. Plan on wearing your retainers indefinitely once you’re done, even if it’s just a couple of times a week after the initial retention period of one to two years.