Invisalign (generically known as "clear aligners") is a relatively new orthodontic option for patients who desire straighter teeth. They offer a number of benefits over traditional bracket-and-wire braces, including less visible hardware, easier cleaning and less trauma to the lips and cheeks. However, Invisalign is not necessarily a great choice for everyone. While most patient have needs that can be addressed through clear aligners, it is important to note the limitations of this treatment option.
For starters, Invisalign needs to be worn at least 20+ hours a day (ideally 22+ hours). If you are unable to adhere to this requirement, your treatment will take much longer. This is one of the primary reasons Invisalign is not recommended for young and poorly compliant kids. It is better to wait until the patient is ready to commit to treatment rather than stay in trays for additional months or years.
While Invisalign is easier to clean than normal braces, it can pose a higher tooth decay risk for individuals who choose to eat or drink with their trays in (water being the exception). The clear plastic creates a cover that can hold in sugars and carbohydrates while blocking out the remineralizing/protective saliva. Oral hygiene is of utmost importance when considering any appliance, and Invisalign is no exception.
Finally, there is a small subset of orthodontic conditions that Invisalign either cannot treat or treats very slowly. Severe deviations from normal dentition and drastic tooth movements may be better managed with traditional braces. Here, the wires and brackets can act as anchors on which to push, pull or slide teeth. In certain cases, a combination of Invisalign and other appliances may be needed to achieve an ideal smile. There is only so much a removable device can do in straightening teeth.
At Thousand Oaks Family Dentistry, we offer Invisalign aligners as a treatment option to our established patients. However, we evaluate each patient individually and decide if their needs are better managed by one of the orthodontists in our specialist network. If you would like to know more about Invisalign, braces or cosmetic dentistry, please give our office a call!