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Shift your teeth with braces – how does Invisalign work?

shift your teeth with braces does Invisalign work

With so many different orthodontic systems on the market at the moment it can be difficult to know how each of them works and whether you are right to choose a particular system. If you want to know how Invisalign works and how you can shift your teeth with braces then this blog post is for you.

Before we look specifically at Invisalign, it will be good to have a general idea of how it is possible to shift teeth with orthodontics.

How do teeth move with braces?

We have a tendency to think of your teeth being locked into the bone of your jaw, however the truth is that your teeth are held in position by a shock absorbing system of periodontal ligaments. this shock absorbing system allows the teeth to move gently during eating in order to cushion the bite and prevent your teeth and/or jaw from breaking.

Because the teeth will move a small amount within this system it is possible to put pressure on the teeth in a particular direction.

If we put pressure on teeth in a particular direction then osteoclasts, a type of bone cell, begin to remove the mineral matrix of the bone and dissolve the collagen part of the bone. This makes it possible for the tooth to move in the direction of the pressure. Another type of bone cell called osteoblasts then begins to form new bone where the tooth has moved from. This process of osteoclasts dissolving bone in the direction of travel and osteoblasts rebuilding bone haven’t extremely slowly, yet is the process that allows us to move teeth using orthodontic braces.

Amazingly, it is possible to move teeth a considerable direction with modern braces and aligner technology.

How does Invisalign work?

Knowing that all we need to do to straighten teeth is to put pressure on them it is then possible to create clear aligners which slowly put pressure on teeth to move them in a chosen direction.

conventional orthodontics using brackets works by attaching a bracket to a tooth and then connecting wire between each of these brackets. The wire is under tension and is naturally trying to return to a gentle arch shape, however your orthodontist bends the wire to the shape of your crooked teeth, this means that the wire puts the brackets (and therefore your teeth) under continuous pulling, pushing, rotating pressure – all the while trying to return to a natural smooth arch shape.

Invisalign works slightly differently. Rather than continuously putting pressure and having to be adjusted each time you visit the orthodontist, Invisalign works by having a series of clear aligners.

Each aligner puts pressure in the correct place to move the tooth and has a small space for the tooth to move into. The aligner puts the pressure on the tooth, the osteoclast an osteoblast activity then allows the tooth to move.

After the tooth has moved that aligner then becomes redundant as it is unable to put any more pressure on the tooth, typically this takes 2 weeks.

You will then use a new aligner which moves the tooth further, you simply repeat this process until you have used all the aligners in the series.

At the beginning of the Invisalign treatment plan the software will calculate the treatment time and work out how many of aligners you will need. You will then visit the orthodontist or dentist at regular intervals to ensure you are staying on course for your treatment. You can even download the Invisalign app to track your own progress.

Assuming you manage to wear your aligners for the advised 20 hours per day, removing them only to clean or eat then you should find that your treatment plan and estimated time is reasonably accurate.

Is Invisalign really better than braces?

Invisalign is not better than braces.

Braces are not better than Invisalign.

Neither one is better than the other, it depends on what your outcomes are. It’s a little bit like saying which is better, a sports car or a pickup truck… They are both cars, yet both have very different ways of working and requirements… It’s the same with Invisalign and braces.

Traditional braces are fixed to your teeth and are often placed by a specialist orthodontist (although not always), this allows for extremely fine precision moving your teeth to exact locations, it also gives your orthodontist a wider array of specialist techniques, this is particularly useful if you have teeth which are in extremely difficult positions or need to be moved a long way.

At the same time, braces can sometimes be uncomfortable to wear causing ulcers and are often less desirable from a cosmetic perspective.

Invisalign on the other hand is far more comfortable to wear and is virtually imperceptible, however, it doesn’t have the ability to move teeth great distances nor realign back teeth for biting problems, this type of orthodontic treatment is usually reserved for fixed tooth orthodontics.

Is the Invisalign orthodontic treatment effective?

Invisalign is an extremely effective orthodontic system at moving teeth, in a relatively short period of time with no one else knowing.

What is it like to have Invisalign treatment?

Because Invisalign uses extremely smooth and clear tray like system it is incredibly comfortable to wear, unlike conventional orthodontics which can cause painful ulcers. You will also find that people don’t notice you are having any orthodontic treatment, many patients have told us that their friends didn’t even notice any form of braces, this makes Invisalign the treatment of choice for many people, particularly adults.

You need to ensure you look after your teeth whilst you are wearing Invisalign and keep the braces and your teeth clean, especially after you eat. You may to make sure that you brush and floss after each meal. If you don’t clean your teeth adequately then Invisalign can hold the acid excreting bacteria against your teeth leaving you more susceptible to tooth decay or gum disease, however this is only a problem if you don’t follow the advice of your dentist or orthodontist.

Do Invisalign-style braces work for teenagers?

Yes, Invisalign can be extremely effective for teenagers using the Invisalign Teen system. This is especially designed aligner which has a little indicator on the aligner which shows whether the teenager is wearing the aligner for the required amount of time or not. It is extremely important that aligner is worn for the recommended amount of time, typically 20 hours per day, teenagers can sometimes either forget or deliberately not where the aligner. This can then extends treatment times and result in unhappy parents and teenagers. The Invisalign Teen system is designed specifically with this in mind.

Can Invisalign be used to fix gaps?

Yes. Invisalign can be extremely effective at closing gaps between teeth, alternative treatments to close spaces between teeth can also include dental veneers or dental bonding.



Shrik Kotecha
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