Invisalign: A Replacement for Braces?

February 7, 2011

Invisalign: A Replacement for Braces? (Part 1)

“Invisalign…..what a concept!”

Ads everywhere, your family dentist, magazines, Internet touting that perfect smile WITHOUT those ugly braces. In fact, wearing those stupid looking braces is usually the primary reason that’s stopping many adults and older teens getting orthodontic treatment.

“Hey, Invisalign is even removable, I can wear it only at night and no one will ever know I even have braces.”

…Whoa there Kemo Sabe…read further.

Great marketing BUT, is Invisalign really just as good as Braces?

The Myth: Invisalign is a Complete Replacement for Braces to Straighten Your Teeth.

The Truth: Most of the Time but Not Every Time.

In fact, this is a true statement about everything in orthodontics…everything in health care…quite frankly everything in Life.

Let me make something clear…I use Invisalign, in fact I am a committed provider of Invisalign and use it just as regularly as I use fixed braces or any other orthodontic appliances. Invisalign is a great product…just understand it’s an orthodontic tool. The many, many tools which have been developed in orthodontics all work…just not on everyone and not every time.

Invisalign marketing has implied they have created an invisible replacement for braces, period. I believe that is an optimistic statement or implication. I will make it very clear to my patients who are contemplating Invisalign to expect some potential limitations with Invisalign treatment. It is the same “Informed Consent” I would use prior to treatment with fixed braces.

“It’s not the paint and brush that creates the masterpiece”

Invisalign “works” differently than braces and has some limitations that fixed braces do not have. The primary difference is the Invisalign “Aligners” are not actually attached to the teeth as braces are. The Aligners work by basically “squeezing” your teeth into place. The Aligner is made from a clear thermo-molded plastic which has been formed to the exact shapes of your teeth. Invisalign’s patented process progressively changes the location of where your teeth fit into the Aligner. As you wear each Aligner, it has been shaped with the teeth a little bit straighter each time. The teeth get “squeezed” closer and closer to their projected finished position.

I’m dating myself here…but have you ever seen a “flip book cartoon”? You flip the individual changing cartoon drawings to create the movement of the creatures. Each Insalign Aligner is a 3-D model of your mouth very slightly altered and very slightly straighter. Add them all up, flip through the “cartoon pages”, and lo and belold…your teeth “move” from crooked to straight.

The Bottom Line

If compliance and instruction are followed, getting your teeth fixed without wearing braces can be worth all the extra challenges if you are just know what to expect.

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