Expert Contribution

How Effective is Invisalign Orthodontic Therapy?

Invisalign is an orthodontic system using a series of clear plastic aligners, rather than traditional braces to straighten your teeth. Invisalign has become both a popular and effective method of straightening smiles. Since it was introduced in 1998, dentists around the world have treated over 3.5 million patients.

Invisalign’s popularity most likely stems from the fact that patients appreciate that they just don’t look like traditional braces. This advantage is most evident in the older teen and adult orthodontic patient population. However, the younger orthodontic patients still have a fun time and prefer to change the multi-colored arch wire ties of their traditional braces at every appointment visit! Another advantage Invisalign aligners have over braces is that they are definitely more comfortable to wear since they hug tight to the teeth and do not stick out from the surface of the teeth.They make it much easier to eat than with braces, because the aligners need to be removed from the mouth when chewing food and drinking liquids (except cold water). Other Invisalign advantages involve the increased convenience of being able to remove the aligners for special occasions (both social and work related) and to perform the important task of brushing and flossing to maximize the effectiveness of maintaining good oral hygiene.

With all of these great advantages, why is not every orthodontic patient currently being treated with the Invisalign system? For the most part, Invisalign can move the teeth; however, many orthodontic problems stem from facial/jaw growth problems that are currently beyond the scope of aligner tray treatment. For example, severe overbite or underbite conditions often require headgear in growing patients to have an effective correction. In fact there are some circumstances wear removable aligner trays are not as effective as traditional braces. Since the aligners are removable, some patients do not wear them enough (the recommended 20-22 hours/day) to properly move the teeth. Also, some patients report initial slight speech impediment. My advice is to carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of either traditional braces or Invisalign that relate to the personal needs of you or your child; and discuss them with your orthodontist so that the plan can lead to the road of a successful orthodontic treatment outcome.

By Richard Anthony, DDS MS – Blackhawk Orthodontics