Invisalign is one of the dental treatment options available to patients for straightening their teeth. It is a series of transparent aligner trays that fit over the patient’s teeth and are practically invisible. They are a good choice for patients who want to undergo orthodontic treatment but do not want to have to use traditional metal or even clear braces. Invisalign aligners are a comfortable, hassle-free option for patients and provide aesthetically pleasing results during and after treatment. If considering this option, patients should learn about the way treatment works, the advantages and disadvantages related to the treatment, how much does Invisalign cost and Invisalign vs braces cost.
The computer-generated transparent aligners used with Invisalign are made from a thermoplastic material. Visually, they look a lot like teeth whitening trays. But once the patient is actually wearing them, they are practically unnoticeable, which is why Invisalign for adults is a good choice for those patients who are not comfortable with others in their business and social environments knowing about their dental treatment.
The series of aligners are custom-made for each patient following their dentist’s indications. Each set of aligners is worn for about two weeks and then replaced by a new one. They remain in the mouth all the time, except when the patient eats, drinks, brushes her teeth or flosses. Each set shifts the teeth slightly towards the goal position. Not all the teeth receive pressure from the aligners at all times. Instead, the pressure is controlled and limited to certain teeth during the period a patient wears each set of aligners. At the end of the treatment, the patient would have worn all the aligners in the series prescribed by her dentist and her teeth will be in correct position, or aligned.
These aligner trays are removable and the patient changes them as her teeth shift into position. A patient should wear the aligners for about 20 to 22 hours every day, removing them when she needs to eat, drink or clean her teeth and the aligners. The aligners can be cleaned with a specialty kit or can be brushed and rinsed in warm water. This also means that there are no food restrictions when wearing Invisalign, since the patient simply removes the appliance before eating and then puts it back on again after she is finished. Before the aligners are reinserted, however, the patient must brush her teeth to maintain good dental hygiene. Smoking and using tobacco products is discouraged since they can stain the aligners.
There is very minor discomfort associated with the use of the aligners. Some patients do experience discomfort in the first few days after a new set of aligners is put in. This discomfort manifests as slight, uncomfortable pressure around the teeth, but it only means that the treatment is actually working by shifting the teeth towards the desired position. Usually, patients will not experience any actual pain. While not a result of physical discomfort, some patients can experience difficulty with their speech as they get used to wearing the aligners. They will speak with a slight lisp while they adapt to wearing the aligners but should disappear after the initial adjustment period.
The duration of the treatment varies based on each patient’s case. More complex cases need a longer duration to complete treatment. However, on average, adults use Invisalign for about 12 months to complete treatment. Adolescent patients are advised by their orthodontists how long their particular treatment will last based on their dental needs. Treatment also includes visits to the orthodontist about every four to six weeks for maintenance. But because no actual adjustment of wires and brackets is necessary, the office visits are very short.
How much does Invisalign cost is a big question for patients. While the cost of Invisalign is comparable to that of traditional orthodontic braces, there are various factors that affect the actual cost. The first factor is the patient’s case. Each patient’s needs are different and a dentist needs to evaluate the complexity of the case before devising a plan. Length of treatment, which also varies from patient to patient, affects the total cost. The location of the treatment center also impacts the cost of treatment, since orthodontic treatment tends to be more expensive in bigger cities. However, the cost for Invisalign treatment ranges from $3,500 to $8,000 on average.
Invisalign vs braces cost is actually very similar. Traditional braces cost between $3,000 to $8,000. Ceramic or clear braces will usually cost the client at least $500 more than traditional braces. Lingual braces usually cost about $2,000 more than traditional braces, but the figure can add up to about $5,000 more. The cost of any type of treatment is affected by the patient’s case and the location of the dental clinic. So if expense is a major concern, patients can rest assured that Invisalign vs braces cost falls in the same range.
Patients who have dental insurance will usually find that orthodontic treatment via Invisalign will be covered up to an amount similar to that of traditional braces. However, each insurance company is different so the patient needs to refer to her particular company for information. If the patient does not have dental coverage, there are financing options available for Invisalign. Many dentists and dental clinics offer the patients payment options, some without large down payments, that divide the total cost of the treatment into monthly, manageable payments. There are also other health-financing options available through third-parties, such as Flexible Spending Accounts, that can help to manage the cost of Invisalign treatment.
For some patients, a lower-cost and shorter duration version of this treatment called Invisalign Express is available. This version limits treatment to the duration of only 10 sets of aligners or less, which translates to an average of about half a year. Often, the last aligner worn will function as a retainer for an extended period of time. For patients with mild issues of malocclusion or misaligned teeth, this can be a more attractive option. This option is also available to some patients as a supplemental treatment for veneers or other cosmetic dental treatments.
There are some specific criteria that the patient must meet in order to be eligible for Invisalign Express. Per arch, spacing must be less than 2mm, and dental expansion must be less than 1.5mm. Midline correction cannot be greater than 2mm. Rotation of the cuspids and the bicuspids must be less than 10 degrees and that of the incisors must be less than 15 degrees. Treatment cannot include any mesial or distal movement of the bicuspids or molars or any true extrusions. If the patient can meet all these criteria, and her malocclusion issues can be corrected using less than 10 sets of aligners, then she is a candidate for this option.
The cost of Invisalign Express is also lower than that of a full Invisalign treatment since the duration of treatment is shorter and the dental problems corrected are simpler. Treatment can run from $1,800 to $3,500, depending on the patient’s problems, the experience of the orthodontist and the location of the dental clinic. While most patients will not be eligible for this version of the treatment, it should be mentioned to the orthodontist in case it can be considered.
Invisalign treatment can be used to correct many malocclusion issues, not just minor ones. Spaced teeth and overcrowded teeth can both be corrected with this treatment. It can also be used to address a cross bite, the result of misaligned upper and lower jaws, which causes upper teeth to bite into the inside of the lower teeth. Left untreated, cross bite can lead to chipping or breaking of the teeth, gum disease and even bone loss. Invisalign can also treat an underbite, which happens when the lower teeth protrude past the upper teeth. An underbite can be caused by undergrowth of the upper jaw, over growth of the lower jaw or missing upper teeth. It can lead to unusual wear of the teeth and painful jaw and teeth problems. Additionally, Invisalign can address problems with an overbite, which happens when the upper teeth bite over the lower teeth. The causes of overbite include genetics, bad habits and overgrowth of the bones around the teeth. The harmful effects of overbite include gum disease and chipped or broken front teeth.
Because the aligners for the upper and lower arches work independently of each other, focusing on a few teeth during the time the patient wears each aligner, Invisalign treatment can be isolated to either of the arches depending on the patient’s needs. Many patients actually require a different amount of aligners for each arch to correct the problems. If a patient has no issues in one of the arches, she does not need an aligner and treatment is limited to the arch with the problem.
Invisalign is available for both teenagers and adults. Invisalign Teen is particularly designed to suit the needs and challenges presented by adolescent wearers. The technology and materials used are the same as Invisalign for adults, but to add to the convenience of treatment, Invisalign Teen includes a blue dot on the aligners that lets the wearer know it is time to move to the next aligner. The program even includes up to six replacement aligners as part of total cost, since it is more probable that an adolescent can misplace her aligner when she takes it out to eat or for cleaning.
The costs and duration of Invisalign Teen are basically the same as Invisalign for adults. However, the cost of treatment for teenagers might be slightly higher depending on how many replacement aligners are included in the total cost. The duration of the treatment depends on the complexity of the patient’s case, but on average, most Invisalign treatments last about a year.
The health benefits associated with Invisalign treatment are many for both kids and adults. Achieving healthier teeth and gums is possible with Invisalign treatment. As the teeth are moved into the correct, aligned position, the gums and the teeth gain greater protection from bacteria that can cause gum disease. Bleeding and swelling around the teeth is also alleviated or eliminated as a result of the corrections provided by treatment. Teeth are easier to clean when they are straight, preventing plaque buildup and tooth decay if a proper oral hygiene routine is followed. Straightened teeth with Invisalign also provide greater overall health. The chance for oral infections, which can lead to even more serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, is greatly decreased when malocclusion issues are corrected. Additionally, the problems associated with misaligned jaws, which can include speech and chewing irregularities, are eliminated when teeth are straightened with Invisalign.
Patients might also wonder about the benefits of Invisalign versus veneers. Veneers do provide patients with beautiful smiles. However, they only cover dental imperfections, which does not solve the non-aesthetic problems associated with malocclusion. Because they are only attached to the front side of the teeth, part of the veneer installation process is removing the original enamel. This procedure is not reversible. Veneers also need to be replaced every five to 10 years. Additionally, there are food restrictions involved with the use of veneers, since coffee, tea and red wine can all cause stains and must be avoided. They can also chip and break so the patient must be careful about her food choices. If the patient is looking for a quick cosmetic makeover, veneers can be a good option. However, if the patient wants to correct underlying dental problems and wants a permanent fix, Invisalign might be the better choice for her.
Only a consultation with a dentist or orthodontist will allow a patient to explore the options available to treat any dental problems. While some options might be more appealing to a patient, the dentist will be able to examine her teeth and judge the complexity of the case and suggest treatment options that are best suited to each patient.