• Dr. Tanner

Integrating Invisalign into Your Daily Life

No matter what choice you make to straighten your teeth, there is always an adaptation period. Fortunately with Invisalign, this period is short and easy.

Many patients are curious what an Invisalign experience is like and the impact Invisalign may have on their daily routine. First and foremost, of any system on the market for straightening teeth, Invisalign is by far and away the least invasive. No matter what choice you make to straighten your teeth, there is always an adaptation period. Fortunately with Invisalign, this period is short and easy.

Lets say you have made the decision to choose Invisalign to correct your smile—what happens next? Assuming that you have had a recent check up / cleaning and there is no outstanding dental work, the first step is to scan your teeth with an iTero digital scanner and take digital x-rays (panorex or full mouth set) plus photos. These records are then sent to Align Technology and uploaded to create a 3D tooth and bite simulation. The orthodontist plays a critical role at this junction because he or she directs the individual tooth movements, the timing and rate of these movements, attachment designs, and auxiliaries (such as elastics). All of these decisions are based upon the doctor’s experience and more specifically the doctor’s understanding as to how teeth respond to pressure from plastic (which differs from braces). Once the orthodontist is satisfied with the clinical set-up and outcome, the case is approved and the aligners are manufactured.

The next appointment is usually about 3 to 4 weeks after the records appointment and is typically about an hour in length. At the first aligner delivery appointment, attachments are placed on your teeth. Attachments are tooth colored “buttons” that provide added points of retention or active pressure points for enhancing the effectiveness of the aligners. You will receive between 6 to 10 aligners and be instructed to change the aligners every 7 to 10 days. Most adult patients can change their aligners on a weekly rotation but the KEY is that the aligners be worn 20 to 22 hours per day.

Aligners are typically changed at night when you are ready to transition from one aligner to the next. (NOTE: It is important to hold onto prior aligners if something happens to the current aligner or if the orthodontist requests that you backtrack due to a tooth or teeth not moving properly). Subsequent appointments are every 8 to 10 weeks for the delivery of additional aligners. Aligners are easily kept clean with toothbrush and toothpaste, which should be done at least twice a day. In addition, aligners can be periodically soaked in denture/retainer cleaner if necessary.

So what does it feel like wearing 2 pieces of plastic and how does it impact one’s daily routine? If you have ever bleached your teeth with bleaching trays—the experience is very similar. It does not feel that different having aligners in the mouth because most of us do not keep our teeth in contact unless we are chewing food—that even holds true when we are talking! Sometimes it is easy to get in the habit of clenching on the aligners and you have to remind yourself to keep your lips together and your teeth apart. With each new set of aligners, your teeth may get sore for about a day—which is significantly less than braces. The best advice is to take two Advil the night you change your aligners at bedtime. The only potential irritation to the lips and cheeks likely will come from adapting to the attachments. The aligners themselves are smooth and well contoured to the gingival margins, thus ensuring a custom fit. The attachments, depending upon their design, can initially rub the inside of the lips and cheeks when the aligners are not in place while eating. Over time, “callouses” build up and the attachments are no longer an issue.

The number one challenge is around food and drink. The aligners need to be removed while eating and drinking any beverage that is not clear. If you like to snack or sip coffee, then the best option is to consolidate your snack times and either reduce your coffee intake or drink through a straw. And of course, the teeth need to be clean before replacing your aligners—a vigorous rinse or better yet, a thorough brushing is necessary!

You might be amazed at some of the ancillary health benefits that come from wearing Invisalign aligners. Many patients mention losing a few pounds and they feel their teeth have never been cleaner—all while straightening their teeth!!

If you have questions about the benefits of Invisalign treatment, please call Visage Orthodontics at 505-670-6145 or visit our appointment page to schedule a complimentary consultation with me, Dr. Tanner, your Santa Fe Invisalign specialist. I will review everything in detail and develop a customized treatment plan to fit your lifestyle and budget.

A confident and beautiful smile is right around the corner!