Clear aligners, also known as Invisalign aligners, are clear, removable dental braces which are basically a clear, removable plastic band of dental metal used to realign teeth. The device is worn like a regular brace and is worn for a certain period of time each day. It must be worn for a minimum period of: one year for people with severely crowded or spaced out teeth, 2 years for those with spaced out badly placed teeth or an irregular number of teeth and finally, a full year for those who wish to realign all their teeth and have gaps or crooked teeth. These aligners can be taken off after the year is up and replaced with a new aligner every twelve to sixteen weeks.
Unlike traditional metal braces, Invisalign aligners do not require the wearer to be fitted for a new tooth or denture; this means that they are perfectly safe to wear by children who still have teeth. Invisalign aligners also have the added advantage that the wearer will not notice whether or not the aligner is in place during the whole time that it is worn. They can be worn under clothing to eat, do household chores, go to the toilet or shower and even sleep without anyone knowing. There is no pain involved in wearing these aligners and the wearer will not feel sore or uncomfortable either during or after the treatment. People who are worried about their oral hygiene adopting Invisalign may find that their new found straight appearance is far more attractive than their previous, messy looking braces.
Many doctors and dentists believe that wearing invisalign aligners can improve health and quality of life for people who are suffering from one of a number of conditions such as: caries (bacteria build up on the teeth), misalignment of teeth (tension or stress on the teeth), vertical stagger (back teeth rubbing against the front teeth) and overcrowding/spacing problems in the mouth. Although there is no scientific evidence to support these claims invisalign does make an improvement in cosmetic appearance. Wearing Invisalign aligners also allows patients to maintain or get ahead in their career prospects because it is possible to hide any tooth gap and the aligners can also expand the size of any gaps.
Invisalign aligners can be either soft removable aligners that fit directly over the teeth, or hard clear retainers. The hard retainers can be custom made to include spaces for teeth which tend to expand when treated and expanded. Retainers can be made from either plastic or metal, which can be either fixed into the brackets or removable plates. The metal retainers that are custom made can also expand with the treatment and the metal plates can be taken out easily. Hard retainers are easier to use than the plastic models. If the treatment has been carried out correctly, the aligners will not move or slide out of place even if the patient moves their mouth forward and back during their day to day activities.
Invisalign aligners can be worn for short or long periods each day and in some cases patients even wear their aligners at night whilst asleep. The obvious benefits of wearing Invisalign are that they are far less conspicuous than wearing braces and they provide a natural looking alternative to traditional braces. The problem some people might have with wearing Invisalign braces is that they can be uncomfortable and hard to clean especially if there is a lot of plaque build up on the backside of the teeth where the brackets are attached. Brushing the teeth normally with a specialist toothbrush can be hard enough already so Invisalign seems like a step up! One thing which must be said though, is that the treatment can be embarrassing if the wearer is not careful as they can be quite obvious when someone views them in the mirror.
There are different aligner designs to suit the wearer such as round, square, invisible, metal and clear plastic. Invisalign aligners can be worn for up to eighteen months at a time and they can also be removed after this period. Removing them takes only a couple of hours each day however and after removing the aligners the only thing left to do is to keep them clean by flossing and using a soft toothbrush to brush out any food or plaque which might have built up. It is important to be aware that Invisalign aligners cannot help you to get straight teeth if you do not start taking good care of your teeth before you need the treatment and over time regular cleaning with a good toothbrush should be enough to remove any plaque or food you might have missed with the metal braces.