An Invisalign Braces Guide

Thinking of Buying Invisalign Braces?

I have worn Invisalign Braces for the last year and this article aims to use my experience to provide some basic information about Invisalign, a new form of invisible orthodontics. It offers advice about cost, wearability, how long treatment will take and where to get invisalign braces from.

What Are Invisalign Braces?

Invisalign braces are clear braces that are an alternative to traditional metal or ceramic braces. As a wearer myself I can tell you that they really do live up to their advertising of being “invisible braces

Invisalign patient wearing Invisalign bracesMade of completely clear medical plastic, they are virtually undetectable when you are wearing them. Unlike traditional metal braces, not only are they invisible, they are removable too. Designed to be worn for 22 hours a day, they are removed for meals, and important social occasions. The picture on the right shows an Invisalign patient wearing Invisalign braces.

The braces come in the form of a series of plastic aligners, molded from a patients teeth, that are worn for 2 weeks each. Each new aligner moves the teeth slightly more, gradually shifting the teeth into the final desired position. I am currently wearing Invisalign and have been for the last 18 months.

My teeth have improved immensely whilst wearing Invisalign. I am also an adult patient so I want to let other people know about how great I think Invisalign are for adult patients who wouldn’t be interested in metal braces.

Is Invisalign Appropriate For Any Orthodontic Problem?

Invisalign is fairly new technology (only 10 years old) and was originally only suitable for treating minor problems. However it has developed rapidly and when used by very experienced orthodontists can now be used to treat almost any orthodontic problem that does not require surgery.My teeth had some quite complex issues wrong with them, including a large overjet from sucking my thumb as a child, but Invisalign have still managed to transform my teeth.

Invisalign is only available through approved providers. These are dentists or orthodontists (dentists who specialize in the movement of teeth after extensive additional training). In order to provide Invisalign they must have completed a program of training provided by Align Tech the company that owns Invisalign. The Invisalign website for each country has a list of providers and ranks them according to experience.

Invisalign comes in a few forms, full Invisalign (the one that I have) is for patients with serious orthodontic problems. Invisalign express is for patients with minor issues that can be dealt with in less than six months. Invisalign Teen are for teens and incorporate compliance indicators and other features aimed at teenagers.


How Much Does Invisalign Cost?

Invisalign cost Invisalign costs approximately the same as metal braces. It is also covered similarly to other orthodontics by most healthcare providers. You should check with your own insurance company as to your own level of cover.

The cost of treatment varies according to the complexity of your problem, the experience of the individual provider, and the location that you live in. In the US the average cost of treatment is around $5000. However, this figure is much higher in some areas such as New York. I live in Australia and my treatment cost me around $6500 although I was able to recover around half of that from my health fund.

How Long Does Treatment Take?

Treatment time varies according to the complexity of the problem that is to be treated. Times can range from just a few weeks to 2 years or longer depending on the treatment needed. Average times are around six months to one year including any adjustments that the patient requires after treatment.

Invisalign before and after pictures

Do Invisalign Hurt?

Invisalign do not hurt. My experience with Invisalign is that I have found that they do not rub the cheeks and cause sores like metal and ceramic braces. They do exert pressure on the teeth and this can cause discomfort at the start of each new aligner, but this is minimal and usually goes away after only a couple of days.

I find that a simple painkiller on the first day of each set is more than enough to deal with any discomfort. My orthodontist has specifically told me that if my Invisalign hurts something is wrong and that I should call him immediately.

Because they are designed so that they can be removed there can be a slight amount of pressure when they are reinserted after meals too. This is particularly the case when aligners have been left out for an extended period of hours and teeth have moved. Also, check out our step by step instructions on how to clean  invisalign braces.

Most people who get Invisalign also require attachments or buttons. These are small pieces of tooth colored substance that are fixed to certain teeth that require complex movements. They are not painful but do require some drilling to remove.

Similarly some patients require a small amount of filing of their teeth in order for them to be able to move past each other. This again is not painful, although it can be quite an unpleasant sensation. I have had both attachments and filing on my teeth during Invisalign, and whilst they weren’t exactly an enjoyable experience they weren’t terrible either.

What Do Invisalign Look Like?

Whilst Invisalign are in your mouth they really are not very noticeable. This is why they are known as invisible braces or clear braces. They are clear plastic so the teeth just look a little bit shinier than normal. The picture to the above right shows an actual patient wearing Invisalign. If you look closely you can see that the teeth look glossier than normal, but no more.

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