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Invisalign (invisible braces)

Tuesday, 30 June 2009 | Tags: , ,

As you age, your teeth start to shift in your mouth. Aside from reliving your pre-teen years with metal braces, another option is available: invisible braces in the form of clear plastic molds worn everyday to shift teeth back into place. Anna takes Invisalign for a test drive on her own shifting pearly whites.

Overview

Invisalign are invisible braces made of clear plastic molds. They surround your teeth completely like a mouth guard, and over time, force your teeth to conform to their shape.

They are great for those with mild to moderate alignment problems like overcrowded teeth, widely-spaced teeth, crossbite (upper and lower jaws misaligned horizontally), overbite, and underbite.

First available in May 2000, the Invisalign system was developed by an ex-financial adviser who was inspired by his own experience having to wear a plastic retainer after treatment with traditional braces.

How It Works

When you go to an orthodontist, a mold and x-rays are taken of your teeth, just as woulds be done for traditional braces. Then, using computer-modeling software, technicians move each of your teeth into the idea straight position. After that, the Invisalign modeling software calculates the transformation your teeth need to go through to make them straight again. Then it creates blue prints for a set of molds to use throughout your treatment, each mold applying more and more pressure to shift your teeth over time.

The first set of molds, or “aligners”, differ only slightly from your original teeth position, and as the weeks progress, so does the repositioning action of the subsequent aligner sets. 

Typically, treatment with Invisalign can take 25 sets of aligners over 50 weeks, but some patients require more, and some less.

Some patients who have teeth that require more complex tooth movement (like Anna) also require tooth-coloured “attachments” to be applied to the tooth to help the aligners do their job.

What to Expect

The process isn’t painful, but after the initial fitting of each new aligner, you may experience some discomfort as your teeth are moving.

You must wear the aligners between 20 and 22 hours per day.

You may experience a slight lisp at first, until your tongue adjusts.

You can eat whatever you want, but you should remove the aligner during meals. Avoid chewing gum because it will stick. Avoid smoking because it will stain.

Cost

Depending on the treatment required, the full Invisalign treatment can cost anywhere between $5000-7000, which is a lot more than traditional braces.

Side Effects

Other than the occasional discomfort, some patients can experience an allergic reaction (sore throat, cough, nausea) to the polyurethane molds, though it is rare. If this happens other materials can be used.

Does it Work?

Studies show that Invisalign does work, but it is less effective than traditional braces. 

Our Tests

Anna here. As I age, I’ve noticed my teeth are shifting. There’s crowding in my bottom teeth, some teeth are crooked, and there are spaces at the sides. Because I’m in television, I was reluctant to go for shiny metal braces to correct the problem, so I checked out the Invisalign system, which has been used by many celebrities.

I went to see Dr. Jeffrey Norden at Westcoast Smile Dental Studio in Vancouver. He said my mild to moderate alignment issues were perfect for the Invisalign treatment.

Overall Experience

My treatment required 28 weeks of realignment and the attachment of alignment posts to the outside facets of a few of my teeth.

Every two weeks, I returned to the dental office for the fitting of a new set of aligners.

Even with 8 weeks left to go (at the time of filming the segment), I could see a definite improvement. And once I got used to them, they weren’t a hassle at all. Just had to remember to remove them when eating and I was set.

Cost

My treatment was about $5000 for 14 sets of Invisaligns over 28 weeks.

Does the Invisalign System get the A&K stamp of Approval?

Yes. My teeth were definitely straighter and looked great. Even with the cost, for my situation, it was the way to go.

 

Thank you to Dr. Jeffrey Norden at Westcoast Smile Dental Studio in Vancouver.

 

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