If you have crooked teeth and are thinking of using Invisalign in Charlotte, you might be wondering how these state-of-the-art teeth aligners work. Our cosmetic dentist in Charlotte offers Invisalign, and is always glad to explain how the aligners create a great smile!
You may already know that Invisalign is the alternative to braces for straightening your teeth. The clear aligners are comfortable, convenient and nearly transparent, making Invisalign the clear choice for teeth straightening. For these reasons and many others, Invisalign is gaining in popularity. In fact, you probably have friends that are already getting a great smile with Invisalign.
Anatomy of a Smile
To understand how Invisalign works, it helps to have some in-depth knowledge about the anatomy of your teeth and jawbones.
The tooth has two main components: the crown and the root. The crown is the part you can see above your gum line. The root is the part below your gum line.
Your jaw bone holds the roots of your teeth in place. This bone is living tissue that can break down to allow teeth to move or build up to hold teeth firmly.
A group of specialized connective tissues, known as the periodontal membrane, attaches each tooth to the jaw bone. The periodontal membrane contains thousands of tiny ligaments that are slightly stretchy.
Invisalign Works by Applying Pressure that Moves Your Teeth in a Predetermined Direction
Teeth straightening works by applying gentle, consistent pressure on your teeth. More specifically, the Invisalign applies pressure to the crowns of your teeth. This pressure transfers down to the roots and to the bone and ligament tissue that holds the root. The pressure stretches the ligaments on one side of the tooth and relaxes the ligaments on the other side.
Your jawbone responds to this pressure in a process known as bone remodeling, which allows your teeth to move within your jaw without falling out. The bone ahead of the tooth (or between the current location of the tooth and its intended location) starts to break down and shrink away, which allows the tooth to move a small amount in the predetermined direction. Your body absorbs the old bone tissue - dentists call this “resorption.”
The bone behind the tooth immediately starts to rebuild with stronger bone tissue; dentists refer to this process as formation. As the ligaments stretch, the bone follows with resorption and formation of bone tissue.
Bone remodeling happens at a specific rate, and is not something you can rush by applying more pressure on your teeth. Trying to straighten your teeth faster than your bone can remodel itself may trigger root resorption, in which your body breaks down and absorbs the tissue surrounding the affected tooth. Root resorption causes the root of the tooth to shrink, and is a natural process in small children - it allows baby teeth to come out easily. In adults, though, root resorption can be permanent and result in loose teeth.
How Does Invisalign Work Differently From Braces?
Both Invisalign and braces work to straighten teeth in the same way - by applying pressure that causes the resorption and formation of jaw bone remodeling. Aside from that, though, the two approaches to teeth straightening are quite different.
Traditional braces use metal brackets and wires to apply the pressure that moves your teeth. The dentist glues the metal brackets to the front surfaces of your teeth. With some help from rubber bands, the wires pull on the brackets and your teeth to trigger the remodeling process. You’d need to visit your dentist every 6 weeks or so to have your braces tightened, which increases the pressure on your teeth.
Invisalign is different in a number of ways. First, Invisalign uses a series of smooth, comfortable trays to move your teeth instead of uncomfortable brackets and wires. And while you’ll still visit your dentist every few weeks, the purpose of these visits is to check your progress. Invisalign is removable, so you can take them out before you enjoy your favorite foods and beverages. Perhaps the biggest difference is that Invisalign is virtually invisible.
How the Invisalign Teeth Straightening System Works
The first step is to visit our dentist for a consultation, in which we help you determine if Invisalign is right for you. We’ll examine your smile then take a 3D scan of your teeth and map out a custom treatment plan. Next, we’ll send the scan into an Invisalign lab, where they will create your aligners.
You’ll return to our office when your aligners are ready, which takes about 4 weeks. During that visit, we’ll check to make sure your teeth aligners fit properly, show you how to put in and remove them, how to take care of your Invisalign, and how to get the most out of your teeth straightening. You’ll visit our office every few weeks so we can monitor your progress and answer any questions you may have.
You’ll receive a new set of aligners every one to two weeks, depending on the schedule you and your dentist have agreed upon. Simply discard the old trays and start using the new ones when they arrive.
Depending on the complexity of your treatment and other factors, you could be done with treatment in as little as 6 months – but you will begin to see real results in just a few weeks. Now that’s something to smile about!
Invisalign cost can range anywhere from $1,800 to $9,500 per treatment, depending on the complexity of treatment. The average cost for a teenager is $3,000.
The amount you pay depends on several factors, such as how much your teeth need straightening, how well you stick to the treatment plan, and the length of your treatment.