Understanding the Invisalign Process: Before, During, and After

Invisalign is a revolutionary approach to orthodontics founded in 1997 by two Stanford University graduate students. It is a system of clear, removable aligners that is an alternative to traditional metal braces. Though Invisalign is almost 30 years old, it is still a new concept in orthodontics compared to its counterpart, traditional braces, which were founded in the early 1800s. Since its release into the market in 1999, Invisalign has gained popularity for its aesthetic appeal and convenience, allowing patients to straighten their teeth discreetly with less interference when eating and drinking.

Today, Invisalign treatment remains a significant force in orthodontics, widely utilized by teenagers and adults seeking teeth straightening solutions. Its impact on the industry is notable, as it has encouraged a shift towards patient-centric treatment options that prioritize comfort and convenience. Patients often favor Invisalign for its virtually invisible profile, removability, and reduced need for office visits, compared to traditional braces. This innovative orthodontic approach has not only expanded treatment accessibility but also sparked further advancements in dental technology, inspiring the development of competitive transparent aligner systems.

Understanding the Invisalign process is crucial for anyone considering this relatively new orthodontic treatment. Here’s an overview of the process:

Before Invisalign: Consultation and Planning

Before beginning Invisalign treatment, patients must undergo a consultation with an orthodontist who is trained and certified in Invisalign treatment. During this session, the orthodontist assesses the patient’s eligibility for Invisalign and discusses their dental history, cosmetic goals, and the potential timeline for treatment. Before beginning Invisalign, dentists will need impressions, photographs, and X-rays of the patient’s mouth to create a precise 3D image of the teeth. With these images, the orthodontist can map out a detailed treatment plan, showcasing the step-by-step transformation of the patient’s smile and estimating the duration of the treatment. These step-by-step transformations are the blueprint for creating the series of custom-made aligners, typically fashioned from a thermoplastic material developed specifically for Invisalign, known as SmartTrack®. The aligners are then trimmed to fit each individual’s gum line for comfort and appearance and checked for quality before being given to the patient to begin treatment.

During Invisalign: Treatment and Care

The Invisalign treatment process involves wearing a set of aligners for 20-22 hours a day minimally, changing to a new set every one to two weeks as specified by the orthodontist. Each aligner makes minor adjustments to the position of the teeth according to the treatment plan established during the consultation appointment. Patients regularly check in with their orthodontist to monitor progress and receive new aligner sets. It is vital to keep up with the treatment plan and follow up with the orthodontist to ensure the treatment progresses as expected. Maintaining good oral hygiene practices during this time is also essential, as aligners must be cleaned, and teeth must be brushed and flossed regularly to prevent cavities and maintain gum health during the process.

After Invisalign: Retention and Results

Once Invisalign treatment is complete, patients are usually given a retainer to prevent teeth from gradually shifting back toward their original position. The orthodontist will determine the type of retainer and the duration of use depending on the patient’s history and treatment plan. A final check-up can ensure that the desired results have been achieved. With proper retainer use and continued oral hygiene, the stunning results of Invisalign treatment can last a lifetime.

While this is just a brief overview of the Invisalign process, talking to your dentist can give you a clearer understanding of the entire journey before beginning Invisalign. 

Are you seeking a dentist in the area? Dr. Werleman is accepting new patients in Hanover, PA!