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  • Considering Braces? Check Out Invisalign’s Clear Aligners

    If you’re considering braces to straighten your teeth and enhance your smile, then the Invisalign system is one you should take a long look at as an option. Invisalign clear aligners feature custom-made sets of trays that slowly move your teeth into the desired position.

    Unlike traditional braces, which feature lots of metal and are VERY noticeable, Invisalign clear aligners are nearly invisible. They fit nice and snug over your teeth, slowly shifting your teeth in whichever direction they need to go to straighten out – vertically or horizontally. In fact, Invisalign clear aligners can even rotate your teeth into the proper position.  They can accomplish that seemingly impossible goal because they are designed to use just the right amount of force in the right place at the right time.

    The Invisalign clear aligner system works by having you change regularly (usually weekly) to a new set of aligners. At Personal Care Dentistry, each set of aligners is part of a custom treatment plan developed and mapped by Dr. Andrew Heinisch, our Invisalign expert.

    If you think the Invisalign clear aligner system might be an option for you, we have answers below to the questions we most often get from patients about the system.

    Why Choose Invisalign?

    For many people, it’s the way Invisalign clear aligners look when they are wearing them. Called “invisible braces”, they are computer-manufactured and slide comfortably over your teeth for optimal fit. You remove them when you eat, drink, brush or floss. And unlike wire braces, there isn’t a need for regular wire tightening, and you can avoid the irritation to your teeth and cheeks that you get from wire braces.

    Invisalign is a Serious Commitment

    Like all braces, Invisalign is a big commitment. You should ideally be wearing your Invisalign clear braces 22 hours a day, every day. That means you’ll have two hours a day to remove them for eating, drinking and cleaning (unlike wire braces which are permanent).

    Issues with Invisalign Braces

    There are a a couple of areas of concern that patients sometimes mention when they use the Invisalign system. These include a slight lisp for some people, which generally goes away after a week or two. Kissing can be problematic, say some patients, but it’s often a bigger deal to the person wearing the braces rather than their partner. Finally, you will have to change your eating and drinking habits while using Invisalign clear braces, since you should remove them before eating or drinking. You need to brush before you put them back in your mouth.  

    How Long Does the Invisalign Treatment System Take?

    Treatment duration varies by patient, but it usually takes between 22 and 30 aligner variations to achieve the desired result. This generally takes from six months to a year, but you’ll begin to notice results as soon as several weeks after you start.

    Caring for Your Aligners

    We usually recommend brushing your aligners with the toothpaste you are already using. You can also use cleaning tablets offered by Invisalign, or a mild denture cleaner. If you have wire braces, keeping your teeth clean is much more difficult. 

    Whiten While Using Invisalign

    If you want whiter teeth while straightening your teeth with the Invisalign system, go for it! You can do both at the same time – just ask your dentist for the details. 

    After Invisalign

    Once you finish your course of treatment with the Invisalign system, you’ll need to wear a retainer at night to keep your teeth in place.

    Sources: Colgate.com, WebMD, YourDentistryGuide.com, RealSelf.com

  • All About Invisalign

    What You Need to Know When Considering these Clear Aligners

    One of the biggest breakthroughs in orthodontics over the last 20 years has been Invisalign clear aligners. They are custom-made tray-sets that gradually move teeth to straighten them into a beautiful smile.

    The aligners are virtually invisible and fit snugly over your teeth. Each aligner shifts your teeth slightly, moving them horizontally and vertically and even rotating them when needed. Aligners are engineered to use the right amount of force in the right place at the right time.

    When you change to the next set of aligners (typically every week) your teeth gradually move into position, following a custom treatment plan mapped out by your doctor. See below for some answers about the Invisalign experience.


    Why Invisalign?

    What attracts many people to an Invisalign option is the attractiveness of the device itself. Dubbed invisible braces, clear aligners (also called clear braces) are computer-manufactured plastic appliances that straighten the teeth without compromising smile aesthetics. Invisalign is removable (though your dentist will suggest you minimize removal for optimal treatment performance) and custom-fit to your teeth, meaning it slides comfortably over the surfaces of your teeth. The aligners must be removed in-order to eat, drink, brush and floss.


    Benefits Over Wire Braces

    Along with fewer visits, no repairs and an easier cleaning method, Invisalign also:

    Allows you to remove the aligner at any time.

    Makes it easier to eat the foods you love.

    Uses materials that are practically invisible, which can help wearers feel more confident.

    Offers a more comfortable experience without the need for regular wire tightening.

    Doesn’t affect the teeth or cheeks like traditional braces


    Invisalign is a Commitment

    Invisalign, as with braces of any kind, is a big commitment. Ideally, you should wear it 22 hours a day, every day. That gives you two hours a day to remove them for eating, drinking and cleaning (unlike wire braces which are permanent).


    Brushing and Flossing are a Key Part of Treatment

    It’s very important to brush and floss after each time you eat and before you reinsert your aligners. It’s tempting to skip a step, but with Invisalign on, your teeth are soaking in whatever is on them.


    Impact on Social Situations

    • Lisping: Invisalign can also affect your speech, causing a slight lisp. Some people find it very noticeable and for others, it’s barely there. Whether it takes a day or a few weeks, the lisp should go away. If it doesn’t, let your dentist know because that may indicate that your aligners aren’t fitting quite right.


    • You can still kiss: A big concern for many is how Invisalign may affect romance. Answers vary. Some say you can kiss your love life goodbye, others say it doesn’t change anything. Sometimes it’s a bigger deal to the person wearing Invisalign than it is to the significant other.


    • What you’re going to miss and the ‘Invisalign diet.’: Invisalign has an immediate effect on your diet. Your dentist will likely warn you to only drink water when your aligners are in. And it’s a good idea to drink a lot of it, since having the aligners in your mouth can make your mouth dry and irritated. Clients report that they miss drinking coffee or beer slowly. Now they have to remove their aligners, eat or drink quickly, then brush their teeth before putting them back in.


    Discomfort or Pain – Here’s What to do About It

    Some people report pain with Invisalign, but there are several things you can do about it. Using wax helps to cover sharp or rough edges on their aligners. Others have their dentists file down sharp edges.

    If you get the wax on the problem area as soon as possible, you’ll save yourself a lot of pain. It’s recommended putting a bead of wax on your tray on the spot where it hurts BEFORE you put the tray into your mouth.


    Total Treatment Duration and How Long Before Seeing Results?

    The duration of treatment varies, though typically 20 or 30 aligner variations are needed to accommodate most cases. The average Invisalign course for adults is about a year, but how long does it take before you start seeing results? For most people, not long – it usually takes two to three months for most patients to notice results from clear aligners.


    Invisalign Attachments

    Some people who get Invisalign have attachments temporarily bonded to their teeth as part of the treatment. Your dentist or orthodontist will determine if you need them. Made of tooth-colored filling material, attachments help the aligner trays grip individual teeth, which helps move them to their correct position. They are removed when your Invisalign treatment is completed.


    A Tip for Removing Your Aligners

    Your aligner trays will need to stay in most of the day, but they do need to come out at times. Usually, this isn’t too difficult. But if you have attachments to help the aligners grip your teeth, it might take something extra to remove the trays.

    To help with this, there is an aligner remover tool on the market called Outie (sold on Amazon in a set of three).


    It’s Easy to Care for Aligners

    Dentists recommend brushing your aligners with toothpaste or sometimes just water. Invisalign sells cleaning tablets, but dentists also recommend a mild denture cleaner, a diluted bleach rinse, or retainer-cleaning tablets. Keeping your teeth clean while wearing traditional metal braces is difficult.


    You Can Whiten Your Teeth While Using Invisalign

    People are often interested in whitening and straightening. Should you wait until after Invisalign treatment is completed, or can you do both? Yes, you can whiten during Invisalign treatment. You’ve already got the trays in all day, so use that time to get the color right while you’re at it.


    You’re Not Done After Invisalign.

    After you complete your Invisalign treatment, you need to wear a retainer every night to keep your teeth in place.


    Invisalign Isn’t Right for Everyone.

    Invisalign can’t fix every problem. Discuss with your dentist or orthodontist what Invisalign can and cannot do for you, and consult more than one expert.


    Sources: Colgate.com, WebMD, YourDentistryGuide.com, RealSelf.com


  • The Evolution of Dental Braces

    Happy black girl with braces

    Before George Washington’s Wooden Teeth, Dentists Thought About Correcting Bad Bites

    Even ancient people wanted straight teeth! According to the AAO (American Association of Orthodontists), archaeologists have discovered mummified ancients with crude metal bands wrapped around individual teeth. Later, in 400-500 BC, Hippocrates and Aristotle both ruminated about ways to straighten teeth and fix various dental conditions. Straight teeth have been on our minds a very long time!

    Important Breakthroughs

    In 1728, French Dentist Pierre Fauchard published a book called the “The Surgeon Dentist” with an entire chapter on ways to straighten teeth. Fauchard used a device called a “Bandeau,” a horseshoe-shaped piece of precious metal which helped expand the arch.

    In 1819 Delabarre introduced the wire crib, which marked the birth of contemporary orthodontics. The term orthodontia was coined by Joachim Lafoulon in 1841.

    The First Metal Mouths

    What did braces look like a century ago? In the early 1900s, orthodontists used gold, platinum, silver, steel, gum rubber, vulcanite (and occasionally, wood, ivory, zinc, copper, and brass) to form loops, hooks, spurs, and ligatures. Fourteen- to 18-karat gold was routinely used for wires, bands, clasps, ligatures, and spurs, as were iridium-platinum bands and arch wires, and platinized gold for brackets. Why gold? It is malleable and easy to shape — the original “metal mouth” was real gold or silver! How’s that for bling?

    Advancements in the 1970s

    Braces continued to wrap around the teeth until the mid-1970s, when direct bonding became a reality. Why did it take so long for dentists to invent the modern bonded bracket? The adhesive! The bonded bracket was actually invented earlier, but the formulation for the adhesive wasn’t perfected until almost a decade later.

    Around this time, the self-ligating bracket also appeared on the scene. Self-ligating brackets don’t need tie wires or elastic ligatures to hold the arch wire onto the bracket — they are held on by a “trap door” built into each bracket. As early as 1935, the idea of a self-ligating brackets began to take shape.

    In the 1970s, Earl Bergersen, DDS created the passive Ortho-Tain appliances, which guide jaw growth and help correct orthodontic problems and malocclusions in both children and adults. The Ortho-Tain appliances look like custom plastic mouth-guards, and are worn mainly at night, or for only a few hours each day. In many cases, people have been able to correct (or greatly diminish) many types of orthodontic problems with these removable custom-made appliances.

    Around 1975, two orthodontists working independently in Japan and the United States started developing their own systems to place braces on the inside surfaces of the teeth — lingual braces. These “invisible braces” offered people the results of bonded brackets with one big advantage — they were on the inside of the teeth, so nobody else could see them!

    Lingual braces were the “invisible” braces of choice until the early 1980s, when “tooth colored” esthetic brackets made from single-crystal sapphire and ceramics came into vogue.

    Invisible Braces

    As far back as 1945, orthodontists realized that a sequence of removable plastic appliances could move teeth toward a predetermined result. Some orthodontists even made simple plastic “aligner trays” in their offices for minor adjustments. But it took an adult who’d just had braces to take the concept a step further.

    Invisalign was the brainchild of Zia Chishti and Kelsey Wirth, graduate students in Stanford University’s MBA program. Wirth had traditional braces in high school (she reportedly hated them). Chishti had finished adult treatment with traditional braces and now wore a clear plastic retainer. He noticed that if he didn’t wear his retainer for a few days, his teeth shifted slightly — but the plastic retainer soon moved his teeth back the desired position. In 1997, he and Wirth applied 3-D computer imaging graphics to the field of orthodontics and created Align Technologies and the Invisalign method. With a boost from ample Silicon Valley venture funding, Align soon took the orthodontic industry by storm. Dentists and other dental companies were skeptical at first, because neither Chishti nor Wirth had any professional dental training. Invisalign braces were first made available to the public in May, 2000 and proved extremely popular with patients.

    The Future: Technology Continues to Advance

    As technology enhances our daily lives, it also continues to advance the science of orthodontics. More and more companies are utilizing digital computer imaging to make orthodontic treatment more precise. The SureSmile system by OraMetrix, for example, takes a detailed 3-D model of a patient’s teeth and helps the orthodontist develop a precise treatment plan for tooth movement. The orthodontist’s treatment plan then drives a highly accurate robotic process to customize the arch wires needed for treatment. This often shortens treatment time and gives highly accurate results.

    NASA developed one of the late 20th century’s most dramatic orthodontic breakthroughs: heat-activated nickel-titanium alloy wires. At room temperature, heat-activated nickel-titanium arch wires are very flexible. As they warm to body temperature they become active and gradually move the teeth in the anticipated direction. Because of their high-tech properties, these wires retain their tooth-moving abilities longer than ordinary metal wires and need less frequent attention from the orthodontist.

    What does all this mean for the orthodontic patient of the future? As companies develop more precise, high-tech materials and methods, your braces will be on for a shorter period of time, be smaller and less visible, result in less discomfort, and give great results. We’ve sure come a long way from the wrap-around “metal mouth” — and that’s something we can all smile about!

    Source: ArchWired.com