How Does Invisalign Work

What is Invisalign?

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve either had orthodontic treatment before or it’s been recommended to you in the past. That’s because, according to a survey from 1998, only 35% of people have naturally straight teeth. If you’re an adult who needs orthodontic correction and never received it as a youth, braces aren’t the only option.

Invisalign is a treatment plan that moves your teeth into alignment for a more beautiful smile and better oral health. Invisalign is a plastic mold that fits around your teeth, causing minimal discomfort while being virtually invisible to the eye (thus the name “Invisalign.”)

The average Invisalign treatment plan takes around 12 months to complete, but your exact time frame will vary depending on individual circumstance.

How Does Invisalign Work?

Our dental professionals start by taking a full three-dimensional scan of your mouth and jaw to determine your current alignment and what problems need to be addressed. The dentist then makes a mold of your current oral structure in order to create your customized plastic aligner. Those clear aligners will create gradual tooth movement that will align your teeth to where they should be.

Next, you’ll be asked to wear your aligners regularly. You will come back to our office every few weeks for check-ups and adjustments as needed. Over the course of the process, you will need to be measured for new aligners that are better shaped to your tooth alignment as it adjusts during your treatment.

At the end of your treatment, you will need to wear a retainer at night in order to maintain your alignment for years to come.

Invisalign vs. Braces

There are a number of advantages that Invisalign treatment provides over traditional metal braces.

  • Invisalign is Removable. You’ll be able to take out your aligners when you eat or brush your teeth, meaning Invisalign won’t make either of those activities a chore the way braces will. Invisalign treatment is designed to keep you on track with your daily routine.
  • Fewer Consultations. While you will have to come into our office to see how your progress is going, Invisalign treatment generally requires fewer adjustments than braces do.
  • Less Time. On average, Invisalign treatment takes around 12 months to complete. That’s half the average length of a traditional braces plan.
  • Better Look. While braces are hard to hide, Invisalign blends in with your teeth making it comparatively hard to detect. You can confidently go about your day while Invisalign does the work.
  • Easier On the Mouth. If you’ve worn braces before, you might remember that those metal wires can cut up your cheek, gums, and tongue if you’re not careful. Since the aligners in Invisalign are made out of a special plastic material and are designed specifically for your mouth, their comfort level is far superior to braces.

What Can Invisalign Fix?

Invisalign can be used to fix a number of different oral issues. There are many health benefits to having straighter teeth, some of which are not commonly known.

Can Invisalign Help Periodontal Disease?

One mostly unknown benefit to using Invisalign is that it can lead to improved overall oral health. Periodontal disease – a bacteria-caused gum disease that can destroy the structure for your teeth and can even cause your teeth to fall out if left untreated – can be cured through Invisalign treatment.

That’s because proper alignment of your teeth can remove or reduce deep pockets in your gums that could otherwise serve as a happy host for the types of bacteria that erode your gums. This treatment can improve your jaw structure and make flossing much easier, thus making your mouth stronger than ever.

Can Invisalign Fix Crowding?

Invisalign before and after image showing teeth crowding with the front two upper teeth crooked in the first image and then straight in the second image

Teeth crowding occurs when there is not enough space in the mouth for all of the teeth. This is very common among children when their baby teeth are falling out and adult teeth are growing in. But it’s fairly common among adults too.

Crowding can lead to teeth overlapping or rotating, making them very difficult to clean. This can be a tremendous risk factor for periodontal disease and other oral health issues.

This patient came to our Invisalign specialist with severe crowding of her upper front teeth which made it very difficult for her to keep her gums and teeth clean. After 18 months of using our Invisalign treatment, she saw a dramatic improvement to both her oral health and her mouth’s aesthetic appearance. You can even see the difference in the health of the gums and the teeth!

Can Invisalign Fix Gaps?

Diastema is the official term for a gap between any two teeth in your mouth. Most frequently, people think of the tooth gap being between the two upper front teeth, but diastema can occur anywhere in the mouth.

There are several reasons that spacing between the teeth can form. In some cases, it is a natural occurrence through aging and the growth of adult teeth. More extreme cases of misalignment can result in diastema.

Diastema can also be an effect of periodontal disease. Damaged or diseased gums may have trouble keeping your teeth in place, causing them to shift and form gaps. Periodontal disease itself can be largely cured through Invisalign treatment by removing easy pockets for bacteria to form.

Habits such as sucking on your fingers, lips, gums, teeth or constantly tongue thrusting towards your teeth can lead to diastema by forcing your teeth apart over time. You will want to work to curb these habits in conjunction with your Invisalign treatment in order to ensure those gaps don’t re-form when your treatment is over.

Invisalign before and after image with the first image showing a large gap between two lower front teeth and then straightened teeth in the second image

Invisalign is one of the main treatment options for diastema. Over the course of your treatment, Invisalign for gaps works by closing the gaps and realigning your teeth to better fit your mouth and make them easier to clean.

Because Invisalign treatment is also a main method for curing periodontal disease, it also lowers your chances of developing diastema from gum disease down the line.

Can Invisalign Fix Crossbite?

There are two major types of crossbite: anterior and posterior. Posterior crossbite is when teeth in the lower row of the back of your mouth fit over the teeth in your upper jaw. Anterior crossbite is when front lower teeth fit over teeth in your upper jaw. Both can be cured through Invisalign treatment.

An Invisalign before and after photo for anterior crossbite, showing completely straight teeth in the second photo

Crossbites most commonly develop through genetic factors rather than poor cleaning habits. Outside of the natural growth of your jaw, crossbites also form when you lose your baby teeth later in the process than usual.

Invisalign corrects crossbites by slowly shifting the teeth into their proper alignment. Since the clear aligners prevent the upper teeth and lower teeth from grinding together or blocking one another, the overlapping teeth are able to move back into their proper places easily.

The length of your treatment for crossbite correction varies depending on the severity of your crossbite. A minor crossbite can be fixed in just a few months while a more extreme case can take a year and a half to fix.

Does Invisalign Help With Grinding?

Invisalign can prevent grinding as it stops your teeth from making direct contact with each other while you sleep at night. However, if protecting against grinding your teeth is your only concern, we’d recommend getting fitted for a night guard specifically designed for that purpose.

Before and after image of a patient who used invisalign to help with grinding, showing completely straight teeth in the second photo

Invisalign is also great for preventing future grinding. This is because many instances of tooth grinding can be attributed to misaligned teeth. In fact, misaligned teeth can cause severe wear and tear to your teeth through grinding. If not addressed, this can do permanent damage to your teeth. By fixing your other orthodontic issues through Invisalign treatment, your teeth clenching may cease as well.

Additionally, grinding your teeth can cause them to fall out of alignment. This is because the constant pressure your teeth are applying when you clench your teeth forces them to shift in subtle ways that become a lot less subtle over a long period of time.

Your treatment will begin by realigning your teeth. This process, like with any other Invisalign treatment, can vary in length of time but will likely take around a year on average. After your teeth are aligned, you will be asked to wear a retainer at night that will protect your teeth against grinding in the future.

Invisalign Treatment in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Schantz at CNS Dental is licensed to provide Invisalign treatment to help people solve any of these issues. Give CNS Dental a call today to find out how Invisalign can help you. Wonder if CNS Dental is in-network for you? Check out our insurance and financing page to learn more.