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Getting the smile of your dreams has never been easier. We all know about those old-school metal braces, right? They’ve been around forever, but let’s face it, they’re not exactly a fashion statement, treatment usually takes years, and those food restrictions can be a real bummer. But guess what? Now we’ve got Invisalign, it’s more popular than ever and has transformed the way we straighten teeth.
In this article, we’re diving deep into the world of Invisalign to see what all the buzz is about. Plus, we’ve got the inside scoop from Dr. Joyce Kahng, the smile expert and proud owner of Orange and Magnolia Dental Studio. She’s going to walk us through everything you need to know about Invisalign, from what it is and who’s a perfect fit to post-treatment care and some secret tips for a successful Invisalign journey. Dr.Kahng has undergone the Invisalign journey herself, so she not only understands the mechanisms of the dental side, but can testify on the experience from a patient’s angle as well.
What is Invisalign?
Invisalign is a revolutionary method for aligning teeth, replacing the once-dominant option of metal braces. It consists of a series of clear, custom-made aligners that are worn over your teeth. Unlike traditional braces, Invisalign employs clear plastic aligners that are discreet and more adaptable to one’s lifestyle. Each set of aligners is typically worn for about one to two weeks before moving on to the next set, with the overall treatment duration varying based on individual needs. They work by applying controlled, gentle pressure on your teeth, gradually shifting them into the desired positions.
The Process of Getting Invisalign
The journey to a straighter smile begins with a critical assessment of the patient’s case. The question of whether to consult a general dentist or an orthodontist often arises. The choice depends on the complexity of the case and the practitioner’s training. General dentists can handle straightforward cases, while orthodontists specialize in more complex cases. In Dr.Joyce Kahng’s case, she often utilizes Invisalign as a precursor for veneers.
Once a patient is deemed suitable for Invisalign, the process kicks off with a digital scan using a device like iTero, replacing the traditional gooey molds. Photographs are also taken to document the initial dental condition.
The heart of the process lies in the creation of a ClinCheck, a computer-generated plan that illustrates how the teeth will move during treatment. This plan is generated technologically but often requires adjustments by the practitioner to ensure precise alignment.
After the aligners are manufactured, the patient comes back to the office for attachments. In many cases, attachments, which are small composite resin buttons, are placed on specific teeth to anchor the aligners effectively. Some patients may also require interproximal reduction (IPR), a minimal tooth shaving procedure to create space in cases of crowding.
Are You a Good Candidate?
Determining whether one is a suitable candidate for Invisalign involves considering the number of aligners required, the average treatment duration, and compliance. The number of aligners varies based on the severity of crowding or spacing. Since Dr.Kahng typically works with simpler cases, her patients usually have around 20 aligners that will be worn over a six month period. However, complex cases may require more and can take considerably longer.
Compliance plays the most pivotal role in the success of Invisalign treatment. The aligners should be worn for 22 hours a day, and that might sound easy, but life has a way of throwing snacks, meals, and social gatherings in the mix. So, you’ll need to master the art of taking the aligners out for eating and drinking and then cleaning your teeth before popping them back in. Dr.Kahng can vouch for the consequences of not wearing your aligners for the 22 hours, as she had to go through five different rounds of Invisalign that spanned over two years, all because of her lack of compliance.
If you happen to be one of those people that grazes on snacks or drinks a glass of wine over a span of two hours while watching The Real Housewives, be prepared to make some changes!
Aftercare: Securing Your New Smile
Completing the last aligner is just one step in achieving a beautifully aligned smile. The post-Invisalign phase requires diligence. Patients are advised to wear a retainer both day and night for at least two months, mimicking the wear time of the aligners. This helps stabilize the teeth in their new positions.
Eventually, patients transition to wearing the retainer only at night for the rest of their lives. This long-term commitment ensures that the teeth remain in their corrected positions.
Dr.Joyce Kahng’s Tips for Invisalign Success
- Try using a handy tool called a PUL Tool, designed for easy aligner removal. It’s essentially a little hook that makes taking out your trays a breeze, without the need to fumble with your fingers inside your mouth. This device comes in handy when you’re in public settings, sparing you the awkwardness of wrestling with your aligners. The PUL Tool is a personal favorite, especially if you don’t have particularly strong nails. It can be especially helpful in the early stages of your Invisalign journey when you’re still getting used to the process.
- Wearing your aligners just at night won’t work. While it might be tempting to only wear them at night, thinking it’s the longest continuous period, it’s not the best strategy. Dr.Kahng tried it herself, experimenting with nighttime wear only, and learned firsthand that it won’t deliver the results you’re aiming for. To achieve the smile you desire, make sure to wear your aligners as prescribed, throughout the day and night. Skipping daytime wear can lead to the need for additional refinements, ultimately prolonging your treatment duration.
- Clean the trays using a cleaning tablet, like the ones from Retainer Brite, which can be found on Amazon. It’s a simple routine – just pop your aligners into a solution with these tablets to keep them fresh and clean. Over time, aligners can accumulate residue, causing them to look less than appealing and even start to develop an odor. Dr. Kahng stresses the importance of staying committed to this cleaning routine. Neglecting it not only affects the appearance but can also impact your oral health.