If your crooked smile or gaps between your teeth drive you crazy--and you can't imagine a mouth full of metal braces--Invisalign might be a good option to remedy your dental problems. The nearly clear, plastic system is custom fit by your orthodontist to make teeth straightening comfortable and unnoticeable.
What is it?
Imagine an opaque mouth guard created to fit your teeth like a glove. These are called the "aligners." The braces-less system is a good fit for adults or teenagers who are timid about the look and maintenance of traditional metal braces. There are no metal parts to adjust or rubber bands to secure the braces. As a bonus, the system is removable for short periods of time. This can be a huge benefit for high school seniors who want the dental service but don't want their dental care to show in graduation photos.
After an evaluation by your dentist, he can refer to you an orthodontist or cosmetic dentistry practice that will start the teeth straightening process. Expect oral X-rays and photographs to be taken of your teeth before, during and after the process. This helps the doctor figure out what type of treatment plan is best for your specific dental condition. The images can also be manipulated digitally to give you an idea of your future corrected smile. These pictures can be a huge motivator to enroll in the program and stick to the lengthy process.
How long is the program?
You will wear the nearly clear aligners for 20 to 22 hours each day. If you have trouble sleeping with something in your mouth, the aligners might be difficult to wear. You can only remove the aligners when you eat, brush your teeth, use mouthwash or floss your teeth. Unlike traditional metal braces, this system is smooth and won't irritate your mouth like braces.
You can wear the aligners when you
- play sports without worrying about cutting your gums
- drink with a straw
- take a nap
- talk or sing
Approximately every two weeks you'll get a new set of aligners that help straighten your teeth. Each set is molded to gradually move your teeth a small amount over time, so they will feel snug when you first wear the new set. Every six weeks, you will visit with the doctor to check on your progress. He may take photos of your mouth to document the progress and plan the positioning for your next set of aligners.
This teeth straightening program doesn't work overnight. Most adults require a year or more of straightening to achieve their desired results. Children and teenagers usually see results faster. This system takes approximately the same amount of time as traditional braces to create visible results.
The cost factors
Your price quote for this service will depend on the length of time you're in the program, the number of aligners you need and how many check-ups you require during the process. Most orthodontists quote a package price and ask for payment in two installments: half up front and half when the service is complete. You don't have to worry about co-pays, insurance reimbursement forms or payments during each office visit.
Check with your dental insurance to see if they offer coverage for cosmetic dentistry services. If you require teeth straightening for medical reasons, have your general physician work with the orthodontist when submitting the insurance claim. A portion of the expense may be covered under your medical insurance plan.
Treatable medical conditions
This program can treat several common dental problems. Invisalign can close gaps between teeth, correct an overbite, realign an underbite, reduce tooth crowding and realign crooked teeth.
In addition to physically looking better, straightened teeth can lower your risk for gum disease (since gaps are no longer present) and reduce painful jaw and joint problems. Chewing becomes easier and plaque won't build up in the crevices between formerly overlapped teeth. In the long run, this can lower your dental maintenance costs.
Having straighter teeth can also boost your confidence. If you frequently give presentations, speak on-camera or are photographed, this system can improve your self-image, quality of smile and ultimately your presentation skills.
What it can't fix
This program is designed to realign your teeth. It cannot remove plaque build-up, heal gum disease or whiten your teeth. If you're interested in any type of cosmetic dentistry service, call a dentist in Atlanta to give you an initial evaluation. He can then recommend an orthodontist or cosmetic dentistry professional to improve your smile.